It's the end of an historical year and many lives were profoundly affected. Everything took a backseat to that fateful day in September. How could we think of anything else but of those haunting images of our jets exploding deep into our souls. The extraordinary thing is how capable we are of healing - in honoring our past and that of our brothers and sisters. Not just Americans, but of all people and religions of the world. We understand that our pain and suffering somehow always eases with time. We're not sure if we're ready to move on, but deep inside we know we have to. We realize our growth emerges in the hardship of forgiving. Our minds always crisp, knowing we will never forget.
Beauty heals. Art inspires and music stirs the heart. Especially good music.
The Livewire staff would like to share their best concerts of 2001.
While it's virtually impossible for one person to see all the best showsin any given year (alas, I missed out on Bjork at the Civic Opera House lastOctober in Chicago) I do my best to get up and get out for what I feel arethe artists and concerts that really matter. Of the dozens and dozens ofshows that I attended in 2001, I feel that these five easily stand up andshout above the rest.
1) Radiohead (Hutchinson Field,
Chicago, August 1)
Nevermind the sweltering,foreboding heat that threatened to turn this outdoor concert into averitable hell. With an invigorating show by the most important rock groupof the new millennium, the thousands who jammed into Chicago's Grant Parksoon forgot about their personal miseries as they were transported away to acooler plateau, courtesy of Radiohead's otherworldly performance.
2) Nick Cave (Park West, Chicago, March 22)
Without the aid of his musicalhenchmen, The Bad Seeds, Nick Cave dropped his once punk-like frontmanantics to be quietly seated behind a stage-hogging grand piano for theevening, augmented by a ferocious three piece, which included the talents ofdrummer Jim White, bassist Susan Stenger and the incomparable Warren Ellison violin and accordion. With a repertoire that ran as far back to his workwith the Birthday Party, Cave's performance was stark, mesmerizing andjaw-droppingly inspired.
3) Bob Dylan (U.S. Cellular Arena, Milwaukee, October 28)
Every so often itbecomes necessary for the good people at Webster's to update theirdictionary to include modern interpretations of traditional words. If theireditor's happened to be at this Dylan gig, then the word 'tight' will surelybe defined as, "Bob Dylan's 2001 touring act featuring drummer David Kemper,bassist Tony Garnier, guitarist Charlie Sexton and multi-instrumentalistLarry Campbell." These guys took a freewheeling joyride down Dylan's pastdoing a hundred with the windows down, but were also so well-maintained thatthey'd stop on a dime if their bandleader so much as glanced their way. Theentire success of this show surely didn't rest solely on the sidemen'sshoulder's, however, as the star of the evening unveiled his stingingelectric and telling acoustic guitar-work along with a new voice - one thatis now even harsher and raspier than before, but also wiser and moretruthful. At 60 years-old Dylan proved to us, and himself, that this wiseman is still at the top of his game.
4) U2 / PJ Harvey (Bradley Center, Milwaukee, May 9th)
4) U2 / PJ Harvey (Bradley Center, Milwaukee, May 9th) Stripping away theexcesses of more recent tours, U2 showed us how a large stadium show shouldbe done properly. Putting the focus back on their music, Bono, The Edge,Larry Mullen and Adam Clayton proved worthy as the heir apparents to TheStones' title of 'the world's greatest rock 'n' roll band.' And if thatwasn't enough, femme fatale alt / rocker PJ Harvey opened up for the Irishsuperstars with a jarring performance that would give any male rocker a runfor his money. A truly wonderful time spent with two immensely talentedacts.
5) David Byrne (Park West, Chicago, May 20)
Gone were the predominate Latinrhythms that threaten to plague his post-Talking Heads work. Instead Davidburned down the house with delirious reworkings of Heads' classics and newersolo work, proving that even on his own this quirky rocker still matters.
When asked to give my top five concerts of the year I knew immediately whichones stood out but to put them in proper order was the difficult task. Ifeel as though I need John Cusack and Jack Black helping me weed my waythrough my options however, with the choices I make I need to explain whythey were great as well as their ranking, so with a drum roll please...
1. BON JOVI (Tweeter Center, Tinley Park, IL. 07/13/01)
Yes, they do give love a bad name. The Jersey Syndicate may have started outlivin' on a prayer but with 80 million plus records sold worldwide alongwith sold-out stadiums and arenas at every show they have to be doingsomething right. I'm going with a solid number one and standing firm on mychoice of Bon Jovi for my favorite concert of the year. Ican't be too far off in my choice with them winning best live show on VH1's"My Music Awards," which is voted on by the fans. The show this year thatstands out was the July 13th show at the Tweeter Center in Tinley Park. Thehighlight for me was when Richie Sambora played his signature song "StrangerIn This Town." With all of their hits to choose from you're bound to hear asong that would bring back some nostalgia or perhaps make some. I wouldstrongly recommend seeing them on their next tour, even if you are on thefence, because, I guarantee, you will be rocked!
2. Aerosmith, Everywhere
The bad boys of rock 'n' roll never disappoint. After so many years ofexcess, to be on top of your game twenty-plus years later is truly a featthat most athletes, artists, and especially musicians can't obtain. Havingseen them four times this past year which date stands out? Would it beAlpine where Joe Perry came down into the audience during "Draw the Line"and held out his guitar so my friend and I got to play it? Or would it be inNew Orleans where afterwards my friend and I ran into Steven Tyler, JoeyKramer, and Tom Hamiltonand shared a few "pops" with the fellas. The choice is too difficult. I amjust going to categorize all of the shows together and have them come in atnumber 2.
3. MADONNA (United Center)
The Material Girl still shines bright and her voice hasn't faltered in theleast after her long career. She brought out her pop dance melodies thatmade you feel the music while also hitting a chord in your soul with herpowerful lyrics and vocal pitch. This is one of those artists that in yearsto come I will be fortunate to say, I saw her perform live and the memoryfrom that night will still be shining vibrantly. Arguably should be higheron my list, but with my genre of music leaning towards guitar rock you willsee why she didn't make it past number 3.
4. FLICKERSTICK (House of Blues, New Orleans, LA. 05/01)
Who? Yes, the winners from VH1's "Band on the Run" series. Not having seenthat many of the episodes I wasn't really familiar with them, other thantheir video for the song "Smile." So being down in New Orleans over LaborDay weekend I had a chance to go to their show.I was extremely intrigued, and from the beginning of their performance tothe very end they exploded with an unbridled energy that actually made rock'n' roll seem fun again. Highly recommended the next time they play a venuein your town. Coming in at number 4, but with their potential the sky's thelimit.
5. JANET JACKSON (Bradley Center, Oct. 16)
I have to first admit that I'm not a huge Janet fan, but to see an icon suchas her perform live along with the awe-inspiring stage spectacle she puts onwas, simply put, amazing. Surprisingly, I found myself singing along to moresongs than I probably would have admitted to before the concert. And just incase you live in a cave, let me also state that she's not bad on the eyeseither!
1. ERYKAH BADU
You know you're at a hot concert when there's only one person outside thevenue scalping tickets, and they're not only demanding but getting fullprice. Such was the case with the sultry Erykah Badu. With her customaryheaddress, a stick of incense nestled in her mouth, and an elegant crimsonevening dress that flowed in front of a 1940's jazz club setting, Erykah'svelvety voice pierced the warm summer night and caressed the soul ofeveryone in the audience. Everything flowed together smoothly, and I wouldhighly recommend seeing her in the future for anyone with an appreciationfor meaningful music.
2. BB KING
It was hard to pick a one and a two between Erykah and BB. Both are greatartists, and with Bobby Blue Bland opening for BB, this show came in at astrong second. Ask anyone on the street which artist they think of when yousay "the blues" and the majority will undoubtedly say B.B. King. King'smagic showed us that the blues are more than simple three-chord exercises,but real emotions and experiences that connects the human spirit and soul toour past.
3. BILLY JOEL & ELTON JOHN
This summer we saw a battle between two legendary artists to see who wouldemerge as the one and only piano man. Billy Joel won the duel betweenmaster rock pianists. Elton was more passive but seem to enjoy himselfonstage almost as much as we did in the audience.
Like most bands at Ozzfest the second stage was where it was at, and thisyear, by far, one of the best bands at Ozzfest 2001 was Otep. A newer metalact that showed they have the drive and stamina to go the distance. With amixture of heavy death metal-meets-hip hop, Otep proved they could holdtheir own with the monsters of rock.
5. ALIEN ANT FARM
I really didn't know what to expect from this band when I went to the VansWarped Tour this summer. I had only previously heard them on the radio,but from the split-second they started, Alien Ant Farm had separatedthemselves from the rest of the bands on the tour with a spirited andcreative performance. The band timed their rhythmic outbursts to contrastnicely with their hard melodic underpinnings. Lead singer Dryden Mitchell'sstage presence was quirky and courageous. A fresh antidote to all the FredDurst wannabes out there breeding like sex-starved rabbits today. Alien AntFarm's future looks very bright indeed.
1. GUIDED BY VOICES
(Empty Bottle, Chicago, IL. 02/12/01)
How in the hell is this band still alive? I've never seen people drink somuch onstage and still manage to kick major ass. They've been around foreverdespite still only a handful of people knowing about them. I'd hate to seetheir livers when they're out to dry, but I'll always be there when theycome to town. Just be warned: if you're up front, remember to duck when thespinning mic comes flying towards your face.
2. IGGY POP
(The Vic, Chicago, IL. 5/18/01)
He's got the Peter Pan syndrome and thank God for that. The godfather ofpunk proved in Chicago that he's never going to grow up, and we wouldn'thave it any other way. Although, personally, I wouldn't want to cross thisman's path, I also couldn't imagine a world without him.
3. COLDPLAY / POWDERFINGER (Riviera, Chicago, IL. 02/19/01)
You'd never see a great line-up of bands like this up-close overseas. I'msure you've heard of Coldplay with their big hit "Yellow." But Powderfingeris Australia's first mega-band since INXS. Both bands were amazing thatnight. Coldplay, in particular, since it was the show that almost didn'thappen. They canceled almost their entire tour because of the flu. You couldsee and feel the sweat as they squeezed every last bit of energy out. Theresults were magical that night.
4. BLAKE BABIES (Double Door, Chicago, IL. 06/19/01)
Juliana Hatfield's early band from the late '80s got back together this pastyear to record new material and hit the road one more time. What a show!Their cover of Paul McCartney's "Let Me Roll It" just blew me away. PlusFreda Boner hiding behind her drums. When she smiles you suddenly feel thateverything in the world is going to be okay. Let's hope they had as much funas I did and that this wasn't just a one-shot deal.
5. JANE'S ADDICTION (Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL. 10/21/01)
Well, they didn't have any new material out (again) and it's basically theexact show they did back in 1997 for their last reunion tour. But I lovedit, nonetheless. Perry and the boys still know how to whip a rock concertinto a full fledged fiesta, complete with L.A. strippers. Perry is theultimate frontman to Dave Navarro, one of the greatest guitarist's to comeout of L.A.
1. CHUCK BERRY (Chicago Blues Fest, Chicago, IL. 06/13/01)
Let's face it, without this guy we wouldn't be making this list at all. Thefact that he's still doing the duck walk in the year 2001 makes him my God!There might be people that can play these songs better, but it just ain'tthe same. Out of tune? Maybe. But who cares, this is THE guy wrote wrote thebook on rock 'n' roll!
2. STEREOPHONICS (Double Door, Chicago, IL
It was their special acoustic tour - very mellow in comparison to theirregular tour but still worth it to see them in a small club. Their song"Mister Writer" is as amazing acoustic as it is plugged in. They're comingback at the beginning of next year so if you haven't seen them, here's yourchance to get to know them..
3. RADIOHEAD (Hutchinson Field, Chicago, IL.
Outside on a beautiful summer night in Chicago with Michigan Avenue to yourleft and Lake Shore Drive to your right....wow! They're the biggest band inthe world right now. What else can I say? If you missed this tour, youmissed out.
4. BILLY JOEL (University of Chicago, Chicago, IL. 11/08/01)
Who knew the piano man could be so warm, charming and real. I walked outwith newfound respect for the man that let Christie Brinkley go. I heardthat he recently recorded a show for VH1's Storytellers, that's the show Isaw, so be sure to check it out when they broadcast it.
5. NIKKA COSTA (Park West, Chicago, IL. 12/02/01)
If this woman doesn't become a household name then I quit. She's so talentedshe puts all the Britneys and Eden's Crushes to shame. She can sing (man,can she sing!), write her own songs, dance her ass off and is hotter thanhell. Top that, girls!.
1. Nick Cave (Park West, Chicago, March 22)
Nick Cave and company gave one of the most intimate and personal performances in recent memory. Each song was performed with such restrained passion that help to release the rage and fiery desire in Cave's lyrics. The music slowly flowered to full bloom as this bands' musical layerings, at first simple and stark, swirled together into a complete and full frontal assault that knocked you on your ass and held you down until only silence would let you up again.
2.Shane MacGowan and the Popes (the Vic Theatre, Chicago, March 31)
The Irish punk/drunk was in top form as he and his Irish lads, the Popes, churned through such Pogues classics as "Dirty Old Town," "A Pair of Brown Eyes" and "If I Should Fall From the Grace of God" along with classic Popes tunes to a chorus of clanking beer glasses. The party never ended even as Shane had to make room for more alcohol and puked the days festivities all over the stage.
3. U2 (Bradley Center, Milwaukee, May 9th)
Dumping their artistically, but not commercially, successful electronica experimentations of their last three albums, U2 lit a fire in their bellies and in turn touched our souls with the prophetic and passionate release of All That You Can't Leave Behind. Simple lyrics mixed with simple chords. U2 reached back into their roots and discarded the pretentiousness of The Joshua Tree with prophetic and self examining songs like "Walk On," "In a Little While" and "New York." In concert the boys from Ireland, with the charismatic Bono's gravelly voice and the signature choppy rhythm guitar stylings of Edge, showed why they are indeed one of the most talented and important bands of the last two decades.
4. Jane's Addiction (Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL, Oct. 21)
With all the pre-alternative primeval passion of their late '80s heyday, Jane's Addiction blew off the dust and put the luster back into big balls, hard rock. The enigmatic Perry Farrell roamed the stage like a lusty predator not sure if he wanted food or sex. Dave Navarro made love to the strings of his guitar for the first time in a long time to the beats of "Classic Girl," "Summertime Rolls" and "Jane Says." With no new material to promote the band decided to tour to make some money, showcase some hot dancers and simply play hard rock like it hasn't sounded in years.
5. Nelly Furtado (Rosemont Theatre, Rosemont, IL, Sept. 8)
This young Canadian/Portuguese songstress displayed what it takes to write and perform great new pop music. Peppered with international spice and progressive electronic dance beats her music has a creepingly infectious nature to it. Many songs like "Baby Girl" and "Turn Off the Light", while interesting and seemingly forgettable on first listen, begin to creep into your subconscious and take root in your cranium. Her music along with her jumpy and sexy stage presence make for a fresh ride down a rather unique pop roller coaster.
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