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Livewire's Top 10

Here are the top 10 concerts of 2012 as seen
through Livewire's bloodshot eyes
The Zombies10) The Zombies
Viper Alley, Chicago, IL April 19

Given Argent and Blunstone's famed careers after the break-up, both snuck in a few solo hits, which didn't necessarily fit with The Zombies' more astute musical style, but were nonetheless satisfying as stand alone songs. Blunstone turned in a blue-eyed soul rendition of Jimmy Ruffin's "What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted," while Argent revved up classic rockers like "Hold Your Head Up" and "God Gave Rock And Roll To You."... read more
Madonna9) Madonna
United Center, Chicago, IL Sept. 19

If there was a single moment when Madonna asserted her position in today's pop world during the first of two shows at Chicago's UnitedCenter, it was during her smash hit from yesteryear "Express Yourself." Besides updating the arrangement as a current club banger, she covered a bit of Lady Gaga's "Born This Way," but rather than celebrating each song's similarity in sound, her Madgesty defiantly segued out of the mash-up with a few lines from the ever so appropriate "She's Not Me." ... read more
Glen Campbell8) Glen Campbell
Ravinia, Highland Park, IL June 28

The thematic grandeur may have simmered during the second half, but the momentum didn't dip a single second thanks to an exhaustive treatment of both major Who hits and rarely performed album cuts. On the familiar front, "I Can See For Miles," "The Kids Are Alright" and "Behind Blue Eyes" helped paint a picture of the band's seminal role in the British Invasion, while "Who Are You" and "Won't Get Fooled Again" illustrated the legends' classic rock evolution... read more
Sarah McLachlan7) Sarah McLachlan
Ravinia, Highland Park, IL June 30

AShe may have encountered a few rocky years with the lackluster reception to 2010's "Laws Of Illusion" (Arista) and sluggish ticket sales of a Lilith Fair revival, but Sarah McLachlan is finally back on track with a tour she was always destined to deliver. Considering the lush arrangements of her piano pop catalogue, it's only fitting this summer's outing is backed by an orchestra, leading to a sold out Ravinia debut... read more
James McMurtry6) James McMurtry
Shank Hall, Milwaukee, WI November 11

Whether performing solo or with the band, McMurtry's uncompromising lyrics still steal the show. The stories are honest and compelling. Whether a listener can personally connect with the experiences of characters or not, the range of base emotions are timelessly universal and compelling. These are tales of everyday existence and struggles told without romanticizing. Lyrics fearlessly pose questions without presuming to answer any of them. It's all very real, just observations but not without hope and usually with an upbeat rhythm... read more
The Cranberries5) The Cranberries
Riviera Theatre, Chicago, IL May 16

Front woman Dolores O'Riordan looked and sounded absolutely radiant as she charismatically prowled the stage, while guitarist Noel Hogan, bassist Mike Hogan and drummer Fergal Lawler were a whip smart rhythm section that served an equally integral role in the group's Celtic-influenced alt-rock/jangle pop platform. Kicking off the evening with mega-smashes like the euphoric "Dreams" and the charming "Linger" also helped pinpoint what made the band so unique, while both tunes have maintained their integrity despite being recorded nearly 20 years ago... read more
Peter Gabriel4) Peter Gabriel
United Center, Chicago, IL September 27

Out of the seven original studio albums in Peter Gabriel's catalogue, "So" will always be the crown jewel, not only since it sold over five million copies in America alone, but also because it provides the perfect balance between commercial viability and artistic ingenuity. To celebrate its 25th anniversary (which will be marked by a standard CD, triple disc and deluxe box set on October 23), the art rocker is currently on the road performing the collection "Back To Front" with many of the session's original band members (including the heralded return of King Crimson collaborator Tony Levin on bass) more
Neil Young3) Neil Young & Crazy Horse
(Farm Aid 2012) Hersheypark Stadium, Hershey, PA Sept. 22

As the roadies added additional speakers and amps to the stage, one had to know that the crowd was in for classic Neil Young and Crazy horse intensity. Young along with his long-time on-and-off backing band created a righteous noise so loud and explosive the music was as much felt physically as heard. The guys all looked like they were having the time of their lives, even usually stern faced Young was smiling and laughing. The jam included "Country Home," "Ramada Inn," and "Mr. Soul" before Willie Nelson returned to the stage to join Young for "Homegrown." Young and the Horse finished with an extended "Like A Hurricane" that was so loud and powerful it created the sense that an actual storm was blowing through the stadium. It was an amazing thing to experience.... read more
Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros2) Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros
Riverside Theater, Milwaukee, WI May 26

As the familiar and friendly scent of one-hitters quickly filled one's nostrils out strolled a hipster band of new age merry music makers onto the Riverside Theater's stage last week. The nearly sold out venue welcomed SoCal natives Edward Shape & The Magnetic Zeros like conquering heroes returning as keynote speakers from a NORML (The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) convention... read more
Leonard Cohen1) Leonard Cohen
Akoo Theatre at Rosemont. Rosemont, IL November 23

The last four years have been especially productive for Leonard Cohen, who besides mounting a seemingly never ending world tour, also turned in one of the most entrancing and essential albums of his lauded career. "Old Ideas" (Columbia) finds the 78-year-old troubadour conjuring up yet another sharp, sophisticated batch of richly poetic lyrics bathed in the same understated folk pop stylings that made him an underground hero, occasional hitmaker and frequent source of tribute. (Jeff Buckley, Nick Cave, k.d. lang, Rufus Wainwright and Don Henley are just a few of the many who've covered a tune).... read more

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