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Livewire's Top 10

Here are the top 10 concerts of 2010 as seen
through Livewire's bloodshot eyes
Joanna Newsom10) Joanna Newsom
Pabst Theater, Milwaukee, WI, April 2

Another notable difference in the new material is Newsom's frequency behind the piano, as in the plodding and challenging turns of "Soft as Chalk." Older tunes such as "Inflammatory Writ" were revamped for the piano to much effect, while others like the catchy "Book of Right On" and the flurrying "Peach, Plum, Pear" were played close to how her faithful fan base remember. While the title track from the new album was the closest nod to earlier material lyrically and seemed to suffer disjointedly from the complicated arrangement, "Good Intentions Paving Company" mixed Vince Guaraldi-like piano with silky folk/country vocals - think Charlie Brown goes to Nashville - and presented the most fascinating view of her new direction... read more
Public Image Ltd.9) Public Image Ltd.
Pabst Theater, Milwaukee, WI, April 30

More than three decades after helping to define punk rock with his first band the Sex Pistols, and then (following their 1978 implosion) giving way to the early '80s post-punk movement with his band Public Image Ltd., John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten from his Pistols' days) has some mighty long coattails to ride on. But his Milwaukee show last Friday with the reformed and rejuvenated PiL proved that he wasn't about to merely trounce out a nostalgic, oldies act for the 500 or so aging BrewCity punks and curiosity seekers that turned out... read more
Kris Kristofferson8) Merle Haggard & Kris Kristofferson
Rosemont Theatre, Rosemont, IL, February 21

Two giants of country graced the stage of the Rosemont Theatre last Sunday night. Merle Haggard and Kris Kristofferson are two of county music's greatest legends - dead or alive. Kristofferson peels away the protective gloss on human emotions that many would prefer not to deal with and exopses a stark and beautiful nerve. Haggard makes his music a biopic on his own life...the wrong roads taken, the loves lost and the fleeting moments of happiness and the long days of sadness... read more
The Flaming Lips7) The Flaming Lips
Riverside Theatre, Milwaukee, WI, April 21

Last Wednesday in Milwaukee, after witnessing the band's fountainhead, Wayne Coyne, commandeer this hallucinogenic caravan through many of these now familiar elements - ones that have made The Lips' shows the single most engaging live experience (both visually and sonically) of the last decade - it was just further evidence that this overblown spectacle of chaotic mayhem and undeniable fun may just, in fact, never get old... read more
Jonsi6) Jónsi
Pabst Theater, Milwaukee, WI, April 26

With the enigmatic Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Rós on hiatus, lead singer and guitarist Jónsi Birgisson brought his ethereal falsetto, a new band and a massive cross-platform stage production to the Pabst Theater for a solo tour performance that was nearly as engrossing as performances with his regular bandmates. Touring in support of his first solo release Go, Jónsi sings most of his new songs in English and a few in Icelandic and explores lighter tones and more energetic tempos, all of which are a departure from his earlier work.... read more
The Dead Weather5) The Dead Weather
The Rave, Milwaukee, WI, July 29

Dimly lit, the band opened with the ominous "60 Feet Tall" from their debut album, Horehound, as lead singer Alison Mosshart (of The Kills) rolled up her sleeves and went to work, adding intensity to every thud Jack White (of The White Stripes and The Raconteurs) laid down on drums. "Hang You From The Heavens" followed suit in intensity, with the gut-busting punch of rhythm, braced by bassist Jack Lawrence (of The Raconteurs and The Greenhornes), fueling Dean Fertita (of Queens of the Stone Age) to unleash a barrage of meaty, analog-driven effects... read more
Ray Davies4) Ray Davies
Riviera Theatre, Chicago, IL, March 13

But, perhaps, what gave the performance the intimate glow of being in an English pub hoisting pints of ale and singing aloud with a room full of friends, was how Ray interacted with his audience - inviting the crowd to sing along through most of the songs (which they/we eagerly did with unreserved abandon). In between songs he also fleshed out the evening with interesting yarns related to the numbers, The Kinks' history, his tumultuous relationship with brother and fellow Kink, Dave Davies (confessing that The Kinks' "Two Sisters" was actually inspired by his relationship with Dave), and, rather good-naturedly, reminiscing about getting shot in New Orleans five years ago by a mugger ("The Tourist" from his 2006 solo album Other People's Lives) more
Jamey Johnson3) Jamey Johnson
Riverside Theatre, Milwaukee, WI, December 2

If Jamey's acoustic solo over the whine of pedal steel during "Even The Skies Are Blue," wasn't enough to raise the hair on the back of your neck, the tone of the electric lead sunburst Les Paul during the outro of "Can't Cash My Checks," or its notes bent during "Mental Revenge" should've all but taken care of that. Another defining moment being the loose interpretive ZZ Top cover of "La Grange," where each artist drafted his own spin of the 70's classic... read more
The Avett Brothers2) The Avett Brothers
Turner Hall, Milwaukee, WI, March 6

Anticipation had reached a fevered pitch by the time the Avett Brothers took the stage Saturday night at the Riverside Theater, in Milwaukee. With the release of their most recent critically acclaimed album I and Love and You, tickets for this show sold so well that the venue was changed from Turner Hall to the Riverside Theater to accommodate twice the fans and it still sold out like many of the other dates on this tour. Those who attended were not disappointed as this show lived up to the hype... read more
The Black Angels1) The Black Angels
Turner Hall, Milwaukee, WI, October 27

The quintet, consisting of Alex Maas (lead vocals, Vox organ), Christian Bland (guitar), Stephanie Bailey (drums). Nate Ryan (guitar) and Kyle Hunt (bass, organ), descended on the cavernous, yet undeniably hip Turner Hall Ballroom in the heart of Milwaukee last week in support of Phosphene Dream. Fronted by Maas, the bearded singer kept his cool throughout the evening behind his upright organ, singing in a style that sounded eerily similar to the husky feminine voice of The Velvet Underground's Nico, while also peppering in rhythmic, trance-like shakes from his maracas on many of their numbers. Controlled feedback and otherworldly effects from the electric guitars snaked in and out of the ghostly organ sounds, while the demure Bailey hammered out thunderous tribal beats on her kit that only added to the dizzying effect... read more

Honorable Mentions:
1) Paul McCartney - Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, TN, July 25
2) Iggy & The Stooges - Riviera Theatre, Chicago, IL, August 29
3) St. Vincent - Turner Hall, Milwaukee, WI, February 17
4) Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band - BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music), Brooklyn, NY, February 16,
5) Lollapalooza 2010 - Grant Park, Chicago, IL, August 6 - 8

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