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Livewire's Top 10

Andy Argyrakis' Top Concert Tours of 2003
Story and Photos by Andy Argyrakis
Steve Winwood10. Steve Winwood
at House of Blues (October 4)

For a man with 40 years under his belt spanning the Spencer Davis Group, Blind Faith, Traffic, and a solo career, Steve Winwood was in remarkable shape and playing ability on this first U.S. tour in five years. Whether he played the Hammond B3 organ, an electric guitar, or a mandolin in the 2 _ hour set, his quality was top notch and the sounds always lifted the soul.
R.E.M.9. R.E.M.
at United Center (September 26)

Aside from U2, R.E.M. is quite possibly the only band birthed in the early 80s that holds just as much relevance in modern rock today as it did then. Michael Stipe and company looked youthful and happy to be in Chicago as they blew through hits and rarities fans voted for through an internet pole. Those looking for memories from this outing can try the comprehensive "In Time: Best of R.E.M 1988-2003," packaged for a limited time with a bonus disc of B-sides.
Aretha Franklin 8. Aretha Franklin
at Ravinia (July 9)

She was, is, and will always be the "Queen of Soul." The ultimate diva shined over the acoustically flawless Ravinia proving that "A Rose is Still a Rose" and nothing but words of "Respect" could be shared about this show. The concert was billed in support of her latest disc "So Damn Happy," which according to Aretha was supposed to be her farewell outing. She returned to Chicago on New Year's Eve, so chances are (and hopefully) she won't retire just yet.
Brian Setzer7. Brian Setzer Orchestra
at House of Blues (December 6)

Backed by nearly 20 musicians, this swanky cool cat took the stage with a vengeance, plowing through the snowy climate with enough heat to produce clouds of sticky steam and buckets of sweat at the sold out Christmas concert. No matter what one's aversion to the regularly regurgitated carols, Setzer's complete revamping of all the usuals (along with Stray Cats and solo hits) were flanked with welcome variety.
Radiohead6. Radiohead
at Alpine Valley (August 23)

The group's latest "Hail to the Thief" may have earned mixed reviews, but its presentation at this greenery-filled outdoor venue was nothing short of breathtaking. Combing half artsy experimentation with half radio-friendly sensibility, Radiohead showered its ethereal bliss upon spectators.
Beck5) Beck
at U.I.C. Pavilion (June 11)

He's often referred to as one of rock's most eccentric showman, but even his idiosyncrasies and occasionally odd behavior couldn't taint a wondrous trip through Beck's many worlds. Whether observing a more subdued and acoustic tone to his latest "Sea Change" effort or turning futuristic and funky on the hits, Beck turned even the massive environment into a hip club where he controlled and consistently switched up the trendy tone.
Roxy Music4. Roxy Music
at Tweeter Center (July 31)

The Bryan Ferry-led organization has never been one to disappoint, and given its suave fashion sensibility, seminal songbook, and instrumental cohesion, this show was an all around winner. Add Vegas dancers, background singers, and a brass section, and Roxy offered just enough qualities to crave and love like an addictive drug. Those seeking souvenirs of this memorable reunion can turn to the "Live at the Apollo" DVD for a practically identical set list.
Tom Petty 3. Tom Petty
at Vic Theatre (April 16)

Hats off to Jam Productions for corralling Mr. "Full Moon Fever" and his Heartbreakers for an up close and personal week long residency. Petty was in town to tape an episode of WTTW's "Soundstage" concert special after having just released his "Last DJ" CD, and this special run was nothing short of remarkable. Not only were fans treated to deep cuts and boxed set gems that they'd never hear in a stadium, but the band even resorted to a set of blues and oldies covers, including a nod to the late Buddy Holly.
Annie Lennox2. Annie Lennox
at Schubert Theatre (April 1)

She may be best known as one half of the Eurythmics, but even on her own, Annie Lennox is a vocal delight. The brilliant and beautiful album "Bare" marked a comeback for the reclusive star (who hadn't released a proper studio album or embarked on a full tour of the states in over a decade). That time off served this powerhouse singer well, giving enough settling time for her band's material to sound fresh and her current crop to properly percolate the psyche of concertgoers.
Simon and Garfunkel1. Simon and Garfunkel
at United Center (October 24)

They may have split acrimoniously after their original incarnation, but there was no visible animosity shown when these two "Old Friends" returned to the spotlight together. Despite the time gap since their 1960s heyday, it was like the duo never even separated, with Garfunkel's perfect pitch melding smoothly with Simon's harmonies and acoustic strums. As an added bonus, fans were treated to a mid-set surprise visit by the Everly Brothers, who besides turning in a few songs of their own, turned in a tune with the evening's headliners.

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