Saturday, August 9, 2014

Best. Concert. Ever.

I'm sure you read the title for this post and thought it'd be a report of some fantastic concert I went to this week. Bzzzt! Wrong! I was thinking about concerts and bands and everything, and I posed a question to myself, a question I now ask any of you who choose to read this blog:

What concert would you want to see, if you could see any band/performer from all-time in their prime?

There are a number of valid options of course. I think it'd have been great to see both the Jackson 5 and Michael Jackson at their apexes. I've heard that the tour that Elton John and Billy Joel did together was phenomenal. And I probably should've gone to see Dream Theater at some point while they had my lineup of preference. But choosing one band above all others took some thinking. In the end, though, there was only one answer.

Queen was really, really good. Plus, with Freddie Mercury having passed away, there's no chance for me to catch them in the original form. Here are the other reasons I'd choose them, and specifically why I'd choose them over a couple other bands.

Attention to Detail
I remember a conversation with my late uncle Paul about concerts, and he said that a lot of really good bands were "shit" live. His citation was Led Zeppelin, who seemed to devolve into jam sessions with relative indifference towards their audiences. There's also Van Halen, who have had their lead guitarist (the titular Eddie) show up drunk out of his mind for concerts. My counter was Dave Matthews Band, who I believe matched their studio quality in live performances. But Queen notably rose to the task in live shows. Freddie Mercury had a true flair for the dramatic. Which brings me to my next point...

There are plenty of good bands out there that don't offer anything extra from a live show. A friend told me he loved a Tom Petty concert because "everything sounds exactly like it does on the album." Well, that's fine, but if you just wanted to listen to the album, you could sit at home with Spotify and a six-pack. You want a little something extra from a live show. DMB added extensive instrumental parts and special guests. Queen, to my knowledge, gave each show a dramatic flair, and Mercury was an entertainer at heart.

Song Catalog
There are plenty of bands that I think a lot of that I wouldn't put on this list, simply because I don't know enough of what they've put together. The aforementioned Dream Theater would undoubtedly play mostly songs I'd never heard before. I went to a Bruce Hornsby concert and I didn't know 90% of the music. It was good music and a fun time, but familiarity is nice. Queen has a robust song catalog, and I'm familiar with a good deal of it. I would expect to know most songs they played.

There's something to be said for atmosphere. It's the reason that some people enjoy bands like Grateful Dead, Phish, and DMB. While you could argue most of that is a result of narcotic influence, there's no doubt the performers have an impact as well. I think I'd enjoy listening to Tool or Megadeth live, but I'd have concerns about my fellow concert-goers in those circumstances. Not that they're bad people, they're just harsher bands. Queen is mostly light-hearted, friendly music. I have to think it'd be a really pleasant time to see that show.

Undoubtedly you have your own foolish ideas. Post your thoughts in the comments so I can razz you...or grudgingly accept your opinions as valid.

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