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Livewire's Top 10

Here are the top 10 concerts of 2007 as seen
through Livewire's bloodshot eyes
Cloud Cult10) Cloud Cult
Turner Hall, Milwaukee, WI Dec. 7

Minowa has dealt with the ultimate tragedy in life when he lost his two year old son who unexpectedly died and the weight of that grief ended his marriage as well. Retreating to his farm in northern Minnesota for the next two years he found his catharsis through writing music. The band's music and lyrics cull heavily from the meaning of life and death.
Bassist Matthew Freed and drummer Dan Greenwood put the dense support columns in place on the beautifully volatile "Chain Reaction" and the wondrous ponderings of "Chemicals Collide" were lifted from the ground with ethereal vocals and strings that floated straight out of the mist. Other numbers of insane originality were "Breakfast," "Happy Hippo" and both songs from their only encore "Ghost Inside Our House" and "Take Your Medicine"...
rogernews9) Roger Waters
United Center, Chicago, IL June 9

As Waters and company continued with the sax-streaked softness of "Us and Them" and the distortion drenched "Any Colour You Like," it was evident the Dark Side disc still holds up in modern contexts, despite being cut back in 1973. Enrapturing renditions of the spacey "Brain Damage" (flanked by a laser enhanced prism mirroring the album cover) and its follow-up finale "Eclipse" provided additional portals for the audience to be transported into another dimension.
Even after that disc's triumphant presentation, there were still a few Pink Floyd classics left for an even more riveting conclusion. No Waters show could be complete without the mega hit "Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2," which was also the night's most vibrant adaptation from the band's seminal The Wall soundtrack CD. A ten-minute version of "Comfortably Numb" rode out the evening on a cloud of classic rock perfection, merging Waters' haunting bass lines with dueling guitar solos from session players that aptly upheld Gilmour's performance integrity. And though it's unlikely the two figureheads will ever reconvene again, this particular concert was the next best opportunity to experience Pink Floyd's undeniable...
Stevie Wonder8) Stevie Wonder
Charter One Pavillion, Chicago, IL Sept. 11

The mood turned jazzy for a gorgeous take on "Overjoyed," followed by the recent duet with his daughter "How Will I Know" (not to be confused with the Whitney Houston track of the same name). Additional originality came at the hands of early Motown trendsetters "Uptight (Everything's Alright)" and "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours," the latter of which was reprised as a country and western ballad, complete with Wonder's stab at a southern drawl.
As the event reached its third hour, the headliner turned incredibly spontaneous, starting out with a percussion-heavy version of "Part-Time Lover" and suddenly switching gears for the golden oldie "Hey Love." "I Just Called To Say I Love You" sounded just as sweet as ever, while "Superstition" got the sightless star so excited he stood and sang a few lines from his piano bench. Yet the experience closed in signature Stevie style with a spoken word message to "unite in spiritual love so we can all change the world." Regardless of religion, this show served as an inspiring starting point towards the lofty task and concurrent reminder why Wonder remains one of the foremost musical innovators in history..
Beastie Boys7) Beastie Boys
Riviera Theatre, Chicago, IL Sept. 26

But more than other genre this particular B-Boys show was oozing with greasy funk with light jazz influences that sounded as if Bootsy Collins was scoring the soundtrack to a '70s porn flick. Songs such as the jazzy organ-led "Groove Holmes," "Ricky's Theme," "Pow," "Lighten Up," along with the finger-licking good "Sabrosa" and "In 3's" showcased a decidedly more mature threesome of hip-hoppers as accomplished musicians - with Ad Rock on guitar, Mike D on drums and MCA handling bass duties for the majority of the evening.
As engaging as the musicians were onstage, however, the audience made this event even more special as the B-Boys encouraged audience members to dress up in suits and gowns on their website and pre-show promotions. And dress up they did, as many in attendance were dolled up to-the-nines in suits, tuxes, fancy dresses, feather boas and even the occasional lab coat and fake mustache (in honor of Beastie Boys' Hello Nasty Tour stage wear and "Sabatoge" video, respectively)...
Grinderman6) Grinderman
Metro, Chicago, IL July 25

Last night Nick Cave's latest monster, Grinderman (featuring Warren Ellis, Martyn Casey and Jim Sclavunos, all from Cave's longtime band The Bad Seeds) proved to be one of the most aggressive, virile and dangerous sounding acts of the entire lot of noise merchants. Despite that the 49 year-old musician has mellowed out for much of his later output with The Seeds (beginning in 1997 with one their crowning achievements, The Boatman's Call, and continuing through 2001's No More Shall We Part and much of Nocturama from 2003) the music committed to wax on Grinderman's recent self-titled release is more of a return to the bludgeoning, unapologetic post-punk from Cave's volatile first band, The Birthday Party.
As hard-hitting as the Grinderman album is, however, their sold-out Chicago show (this being only one of three U.S. cities, along with New York and San Francisco, scheduled on this rare mini-tour) proved all the more threatening as they deconstructed and then turned many of their numbers completely inside-out. The foursome produced cacophonic eruptions out of thin air as witnessed during "Honey Bee (Let's Fly To Mars)" and the hypnotizing "No [Expletive] Blues," while the Fu Manchu-mustachioed Cave's voice morphed from roguish croon (on the sparser number "Man in the Moon")...
Wilco5) Wilco / Andrew Bird
Eagles Ballroom, Milwaukee, WI Oct. 9

Beckoned back to the stage by a roar of cheers, Wilco's first encore was highlighted by "Hesitating Beauty" and "California Stars" from Billy Bragg & Wilco's 1998 release Mermaid Avenue, and after quickly returning to the stage for a second encore, a run of tunes from Being There set an earlier, raw tone before Tweedy took over the stage to sing and play "Someone Else's Song" without amplification and to start a third encore. After about a minute, the crowd quieted down enough for Tweedy's voice and acoustic guitar to carry throughout the ballroom, and at least momentarily, the acoustics of the ballroom (which generally only sound clear when in line with the sound board) helped the show. After a full-band version of "Spiders (Kidsmoke)" provided an exclamation point to the evening, and to which a bra was tossed on stage, a very appreciative Wilco, while joking they weren't sure what to do with the bra, left a very appreciative crowd.
While opener Andrew Bird, who performed solo, was mostly indecipherable in talking to the crowd between songs, the large hall sound actually added another pleasing element to his sound-- the reverb created in his set-ending "Scythian Empires," from his latest release Armchair Apocrypha, reached haunting heights as violin, whistling and a host of loops whirled and echoed about as fast as his rotating speaker on its fastest setting...
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs4) Lollapalooza 2007 - Iggy & the Stooges, Patti Smith & The Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Grant Park, Chicago, IL Aug. 3 - 5

As anticipated Patti Smith then took to the stage along with her longtime guitar accompaniment, Lenny Kaye, for a brief but moving set where the duo performed a beautiful and poignant rendition of "Ghost Dance" from Patti's 1978 Easter album, as well as tossing in a wonderful cover of Hank Williams' "I'm So Lonesome (I Could Cry)." Smith played well to this family crowd as she reminisced about her own past growing up in Chicago. "My father was named Grant," she recalled, " and he used to tell me that this was his park. It's so nice for me to play in my father's park today." Tying in further family values she later explained, "This is the Kid's Park so my son Jackson is going to play with us," as the trio finished out their set with an impassioned version of Smith's "People Have The Power."
The highlight of the day came early in the evening with a smoking set from NYC punkers Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Front gal Karen O is without a doubt the single most engaging stage performer going today and her sexy, eye-popping onstage antics - from crawling on all fours, crouching spread-eagle for those in the front and practically deep-throating her mic - held the sardine-packed crowd in transfixed amazement. Thankfully guitarist Nick Zinner, drummer Brian Chase and their hooded keyboardist delivered a stunning set of perfectly executed buzz saw slop that guaranteed that Karen O wasn't the only one in this band to get all of the attention.
With a great sound and killer performance Iggy and the Stooges eventually invited fans to come on stage but had to stop the show to calm everybody down as fans kept jumping over barricades. No fun, indeed...
The Pogues3) The Pogues
Congress Theatre, Chicago, IL Mar. 5

Joined by longtime musical stalwarts Jem Finer, Spider Stacy, James Fearnley, Philip Chevron, Darryl Hunt, Andrew Ranken and Terry Woods, the band opened with a rousing version of "Streams of Whiskey" from their 1984 debut Red Roses For Me. Wasting little time locking into both song and each other, Fearnley began madly jumping about the stage with his accordion with all of the intensity of Pete Townshend circa '71, which immediately set the tone for a spirited evening of music. MacGowan, puffy, pasty and clad in dark shades, oversized Hawaiian shirt and accessorized with perpetual cigarette, nonetheless,< looked healthier than he has in years. He also sounded fabulous as he delivered banshee screams from hell on the raucous "If I Should From Grace With God" as well as gruff, poignant narratives on the more gentle balladry of "Lullaby Of London" and "A Pair of Brown of Eyes," the latter which inspired many in the packed house to chime along with during the chorus.
Musically the band has, arguably, never sounded better. The string interplay between Finer, Chevron and Woods wove rich textures into the arrangements, while bassist Hunt and drummer Rankin provided spirited rhythms behind Stacy's tin whistle which added an aura of ancient Irish authenticity throughout...
Arcade Fire2) Arcade Fire
Chicago Theatre, Chicago, IL May 20

Win turned the spotlight over to his wife for a beautiful rendition of "Haiti," which, with rich red curtains and up-lit floor lighting on her, gave the appearance of a 1920s era Berlin cabaret act. Expanding from the windswept Caribbean breeze that wafted through the recorded version, the song culminated into a cacophonic discord of horns and strings, which both dizzied and delighted the sold-out crowd.
Closing out their 90 minute set with a stunning rendition of "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)" Butler cried, "as the day grows dim, I hear you sing a golden hymn, the song I've been trying to sing." Not only did he nail every one of his band's sixteen 'golden hymns' through their stirring performance, but also collectively proved exactly why The Arcade Fire are, arguably, the most important rock band today...
The Decemberists1) The Decemberists / My Brightest Diamond
Pabst Theatre, Milwaukee, WI Apr. 16

"The Perfect Crime 2" incorporated a decidedly Supertramp-like approach, while "The Island, Come And See, The Landlord's Daughter, You'll Not Feel The Drowning," forced Meloy's limbs into David Byrne-spasms that twitched in time to the song's heavy prog rock leanings towards bands such as Yes and Genesis. By the end of the number the entire ensemble huddled together mid-stage with the addition of violin and cello for a lovely conclusion to this nearly twelve-minute composition. Even the heavy mathematical rhythms of King Crimson could be heard on "When The War Came," which was further evidence that, as of late, this band sounds as if they've been pilfering through their uncle's record collection of '70s classics for creative ideas.
My Brightest Diamond delivered one of the most incendiary, jaw-dropping performances this city has witnessed in some time. With just her stripped-down rock accompaniment of drums and bass, Worden handled vocal, guitar and key duties with command and bravado on numbers from My Brightest Diamond's 2006 debut Bring Me The Workhorse.
From the thick, opium-laced psychedelic number "Magic Rabbit," where Worden's voice quivered and howled - not unlike P.J. Harvey in her prime -as the band foraged head first into a bombastic climax with all the dynamics and tight-but-loose dexterity of Led Zeppelin on one of their better nights. And as musically talented as she and her two comrades were, Worden's secret weapon was undoubtedly her voice, which I dare anyone to show me a more inspiring young talent than this today...

Honorable Mentions:
1) Ryan Adams & The Cardinals - Biograph Theatre, Chicago, IL June 20
2) The Apples In Stereo - High Noon Saloon, Madosn, WI Feb. 26
3) Morrissey - Star Plaza Theatre. Merrillville, IN Oct. 20
4) Juliette Lewis and the Licks - Eagles Ballroom, Milwaukee, WI July 7
5) The Shins - Eagles Ballroom, Milwaukee, WI Feb. 9

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