Archive for the ‘90s Music’ Category

The final instalment for this Live Series, has been a long time coming. My love affair with the Foo Fighters began when they formed, back in 1994. They have always been on my side, always known what to say. Between 2003 and 2018 (15 years!), I have had the honour and privilege of seeing them live 5 times. In 5 different cities. Here’s how they all went down.

2003 – Montreal, Auditorium de Verdun, One by One Tour

In the summer of 2003, I moved to Montreal with my best friend (at the time.) It was our first time living away from home, but we quickly fell in love with Montreal. One of my fondest memories was my first ever Foo Fighters show, 4 albums deep into their career.

They performed at the Verdun, capacity approximately 4,100. Our group of 8 picked our spot in the general admission standing area. It had to be the hottest, most humid day of the entire summer, and the air conditioner was broken (or at least it felt that way.)

As soon as the show started, the energy took over, and not a single person was bothered by the stifling heat, no one noticed the stench of sweat in the air. A mosh pit soon formed, and the brave ones navigated their way to the front of the stage, unscathed, only to come face-to-face with the band (note: my short-ness prevented me from being said brave one.)

It was the first time I heard “Everlong” live, and I was hooked (note: I walked down the aisle to an orchestral version of it.) As I stood under the coldest shower I’ve ever taken, – something had to diffuse the heat – I knew then that I would be a fan forever (Also: I cannot believe this video exists.)


2008 – NYC, Madison Square Garden, Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace Tour

I moved to NYC in 2007 for work. I was 25, finally finished school, and ready to see what the world had in store. I have always found that mutual music interest is an easy way to make friends, and at the time, the Foos were on heavy radio rotation. Before I knew it, 4 of us had tickets to see them at MSG.

When I started work, I didn’t really know anyone, but have always found that mutual music interest is an easy way to make friends. 4 of us got tickets to go see the Foos at MSG – capacity 20,000+ – now 6 albums in, and the rest was history.

After a botched attempt at seeing Lenny Kravitz (I don’t want to talk about it,) we were looking forward to the Foos show for weeks. By this time, they were 6 albums in, and playing a much larger venue – capacity 20,000+ – with an extended catwalk-like stage, bringing the band even closer to the fans.

The Foos did not disappoint: they were a more finessed version of their 2003 selves, but with as much energy (if not more,) passion and fun. It was the first time I heard “Stranger Things Have Happened,” as well as a live acoustic version of “My Hero,” and the goosebumps lasted for days (see 23:40.)

 

2011 – Chicago, Lollapalooza, Wasting Light Tour

The first major outdoor summer music festival I ever attended, my initial reaction was: Lollapalooza is bananas. Over 65,000 attendees, so many bands, so much music, and so little time to take it all in while also staying hydrated, finding a good spot from which to watch the bands, staying fed, and not giving in to heat stroke.

Foo Fighters were one of the headliners, now with 7 studio albums under their belt, a fan-favourite Garage Tour, and a documentary about them, called Back & Forth. I went to the festival with friends, but we all had our own bands we wanted to see, so for a large portion of it, I was roaming around solo.

On this particular day, the heat and humidity had reached their peak, and the gray, overcast skies morphed into their evil cousin: apocalyptic skies. A few minutes into the Foos’ set, they were inundated with torrential downpour.

I retreated and watched from a distance, the band barely in view (I have a strong aversion to rain.) But the Foos, like true champs, kept right on playing – for 2 hours – and set the stage on fire. Metaphorically, of course.

 

2015 – Boston, Fenway Park, Sonic Highways Tour

When the Foos announced this tour, I tried furtively to get tickets to their Toronto show, to no avail. I blame ticket bots. Luckily, my partner in crime agreed to hunt them down with me in Boston for their show at Fenway Park – capacity approximately 37,000.

By this time, the Foos had released their 8th studio album, Sonic Highways, as well as an HBO series of the same name. A behind-the-scenes look at the making of the album, which involved recording each track albums in a different city, and using conversations Grohl had in those cities, to form the lyrics for that track. Artistry at its best.

The unique thing about this tour was Dave Grohl performed with a broken leg (an injury incurred at a previous show.) Because he physically couldn’t stand, he played and sang from a throne covered in guitars, specifically designed for him, and like the badass he is, even attempted to perform on crutches.

It was a 3-hour long show, and my favourite one of theirs ever. I have never seen such commitment, enjoyment, musicianship and rock ‘n roll.

 

2018 – Toronto, Rogers Centre, Concrete & Gold Tour

15 years after I first saw them live. 9 studio albums, 3 documentaries, and 1 short-lived hiatus later, I finally got to see them live in Toronto, alongside 53,000 of my hometown friends, on a beautiful summer night. It couldn’t have been more perfect.

 

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In yet another instalment of this live series, here are the performers I haven’t yet had a chance to see, but hopefully will get to one day.

Beyoncé

They called it “Beychella” for a reason. Plus, I’ve never seen anyone slay live.

Pink

I need to see her music live. I don’t know of any other chart topper that puts that much physical effort into their show (based on what I’ve heard,) and it’s sure to make me have a better appreciation for her music. So win-win for me.

Backstreet Boys

Seeing BSB live will channel the inner closeted boy band fan girl inside of me, and set her free. (In case you were wondering: Brian is still my fave.)

London Grammar

Their music breaks my heart every damn time, and I know witnessing them live will just destroy me (in the best way possible.)

Adele

When I first heard “Someone Like You,” I hadn’t had such a visceral reaction to a song in a very very long time. Adele knows how to express the deepest, darkest of emotions, with a perfect voice, which glorifies the pain and the sadness. Her music must to be experienced live (it’s just impossible to actually get tickets to her show.)

Dixie Chicks

I do my very best to be a well-rounded music fan, dabbling in as many genres as I can, to gain a more whole understanding of music. The Dixie Chicks were my gateway into country music, which is why I so badly want to see them live. Their music is beautiful, meaningful, and everything that makes them country, is what makes them so damn great.

Radiohead

I love Radiohead. My favourite way to listen to them is alone with headphones on, so I can drown out the world around me. I always hesitate to see them live when they come to town, because I don’t want that effect to get ruined when they play to thousands. Having said that, if I never get to see them live, I’ll never get over it. I missed them this year, here’s hoping they decide to come back.

 

In continuation of this live series, here’s a look at some performers that just fell short of utter perfection.

Chris Cornell

I first saw Chris Cornell in Hamilton in 2008, playing a show in support of his solo album, Carry On. I drove all the way from Whitby, and braved a heavy snow storm to get there. I went with a potential more-than-friend friend, to the Hamilton Convention Centre – a venue that has more of a high school gym feel, standing room only, but big enough that you didn’t have to rub sweaty elbows with anyone. I soon found out, the best thing about a Chris Cornell show is that you not only get his solo music, but also that of Soundgarden, Audioslave and Temple of the Dog. How can you beat that?

I also saw him play as part of Soundgarden’s reunion tour at Molson Amphitheatre, back in 2014. Although the company was great, and the music full of nostalgia, the far-away lawn seats made it difficult to fully get engaged in the show, and I left wanting more. Not to mention, the dramatic rainstorm put a damper on the experience.

My all-time fave show of his by far, was an acoustic solo show (ie just him and his guitar) at Massey Hall, which I attended solo. He interacted so much with the crowd, told stories, performed his heart out – including his epic version of “Billie Jean” and his version of “One” – a mash up of Metallica’s “One” lyrics and U2’s “One” music. His voice is was as much of an instrument as his guitar; so soulful, emotive and unique. It’s an effin’ shame we don’t get to experience him anymore. RIP.

Ben Harper

Ben Harper is a man of many talents. He plays multiple instruments, including a lap slide guitar; his music can be soft and poetic, but also angry and rock ‘n roll. He performs as a solo act, and also with different bands/musicians.

The first time I saw him was back in 2009 alongside The Relentless 7 at the Virgin Festival, at the Molson Amphitheatre. Although I appreciated the obvious talent and musicianship, I left underwhelmed. His sound with The Relentless 7 is a lot more funk-based and instrumental jamming, which is great; just not my preferred version of what I know Harper can do.

I got the opportunity to see him again in 2011, for a solo show at Sound Academy (now, Rebel; previously, the Docks,) on the Give ‘Til It’s Gone tour. I had balcony seats so it wasn’t as crowded as the general admission area, and he was phenomenal. He went on for 7 encores. Yes, 7. And probably could’ve kept on going. He’s such a force on stage, namely his powerful lyrics and sublime vocals. I left elated, and only wanting more and more.

By far, the best performance of his I saw was – similar to Chris Cornell – a solo acoustic show at Massey Hall, which I, once again, attended solo, back in 2012. It was just him and a line up of at least 10 different guitars, all of which he played with sheer perfection. He was very interactive with the audience, even serenading a couple seated in the front row with “Forever” when they told him they just got engaged. During the show. His music is easily in my top 5 favourites, and he’s such a dream to watch; it feels like he’s talking/singing directly to you, getting you through whatever you’re going through, and being a friend with whom you share all your thoughts. He’s also incredibly easy on the eyes. Swoon.

U2

I tallied it up, and I’ve seen U2 a total of 6 times live: 1997 Popmart tour, SkyDome; 2001 Elevation tour, Air Canada Centre; 2005 Vertigo tour, ACC; 2009 360 tour, SkyDome; 2015 Innocence + Experience tour, ACC; 2017 Joshua Tree tour, SkyDome. I’ve always attended with someone, either family or friends.

For the longest time, I was the most obsessive unapologetic U2 fan. Everything they did turned to gold, in my eyes. The first time I saw them, I was blown away. The sheer production of their show was like nothing I’d ever seen. Lights, lasers, lemon-shaped disco balls, you name it. And the caliber of the performance matched it perfectly, including Bono’s voice, which doesn’t age even in the slightest as he gets older. Not to mention, hearing/seeing “Sunday Bloody Sunday” live is a rite of passage for any music/U2 fan.

The 2015 show ended it for me though. None of their music after 2004 was any good, and got worse and worse with every album. This show was more about production, special effects and fancy stages. It was all so distracting from the performance itself, which seemed to hide behind all the grandiosity, and suffered as a result.

I got suckered into seeing their Joshua Tree tour – to witness the classics one last time – but that was the end of it for me. I can’t justify it anymore. Neither their live shows nor their music are anything like what they used to be, so I’ll give them a shout out for entertaining me for so many years.

The National

I was first introduced to The National back in the early 2000s. It was love at first listen. Since then, I’ve seen them perform a whopping 8 times: 2008 Boxer tour, Brooklyn Academy of Music; 2008 New Yorker Anniversary, Hammerstein Ballroom; 2009 High Violet tour, Kool Haus; 2010 High Violet tour, Massey Hall; 2011 High Violet tour, ACC; 2013 Trouble Will Find Me tour, NXNE Yonge-Dundas Square; 2014 Trouble Will Find Me tour, Massey Hall; 2017 Sleep Well Beast tour, Sony Centre. Either solo, with friends, or family. I’ll be honest though, mostly solo.

They put on an incredible show. Goosebumps for days. They outperform even themselves almost every time, and every track is that much better than the album version. I’ve even met lead singer Matt Berninger at the screening of their documentary, Mistaken for Strangers. Suffice it to say, I’m a fan. And to be honest, the quality of their music hasn’t wavered since that first album of theirs I heard. But the truth is, after seeing them so many times, their live show has become somewhat predictable.

The quasi a capella version of “Vanderlye Crybaby Geeks,” the amped-up punk-rock ‘n roll version of “Mr. November,” the adventurous nature of Berninger walking and singing through the crowd. I can understand as a first-time viewer, how incredible it is to see, so I totally get why they keep doing it.

A better and frankly more likely explanation is, I’ve become a concert snob. I need variety, perfection, emotion, and satisfaction. Don’t get me wrong, at the most recent show I saw of theirs, I was thoroughly entertained. But it just wasn’t enough. I want it to feel like I’m watching them for the first time again, and I don’t know if it will ever be that way again.