My love affair with concert albums, and now concert DVD and Blu-Ray discs started back in the 70s with Frampton Comes Alive and Journey: Captured. Since then I have listened to far more disappointing concert albums than good, but there are a handful of concerts I consider great in every way.
With the advent of concert DVDs and Blu-Rays, I am now able to place myself in the front row and let the experience envelope me. Based on my age I know many of these concerts will not appeal to the younger crowd but they are without doubt fantastic examples of what can be done when magic strikes on concert night.
When it comes to DVD and Blu-Ray concerts, I have a strict criteria for whether a disc gets my love or not. The disc must be a concert, not a documentary that continually breaks up the experience.
I found Peter Gabriel while I was going through my MTV, New Wave phase back in the 80s. Shock the Monkey received a lot of airplay and opened the door for me to experience what a master of epic concert drama is capable of. When I first popped Growing Up Live into my DVD player I had not given Peter a serious listen for several years. While I appreciate his work in the later 80s and early 90s, it was not something I listened to often. Growing Up Live changed that when I was blown away by not only the complexity of the music, but also the theatrical powerhouse of a show that unfolded.
Growing Up Live became my reference DVD immediately, the picture quality is outstanding and the DTS 5.1 track is mind blowing. I have found few DVDs that can provide as quality a test for speakers. I take this along every time I look for speakers and can tell immediately if they meet my requirements. The music, the show, and the quality make this my number one pick.
Neil Young’s Live Rust is a powerful set that begins with an all-acoustic set before blasting off when Crazy Horse walks onto the stage. There is no denying the otherworldly, artistic talent that flows from the mind and heart of Neil Young and this is one of his best moments.
U2 caught my attention way back with their first two albums but lost me afterward. I was never offended by their music, it certainly was impressive but the rebel magic of Sunday Bloody Sunday was gone in my mind. I was lucky enough to live in Denver and see Under a Blood Red Sky but that isn’t my pick here despite being an amazing concert. My pick is U2 Go Home – Live from Slane Castle, it is a perfect evening that makes me understand what I was missing when I dismissed U2 during the 90s.
My wife is a huge Elvis Costello fan and while I have always enjoyed his music it wasn’t until she got front row tickets for an Austin show that I really gave him a serious listen. While that show was amazing the Blu-Ray, Elvis Costello & the Imposters: Club Date – Live in Memphis has the master in a very small venue and at his best. This one is not to be missed.
Tom Petty has been dragging my heart around for years and his music has only gotten better with each passing year. Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers: Live in Concert catches Tom and the band doing what they do best for two discs. Blues and rock from his career and a selection of work from other artists make this an evening to enjoy. The sound and picture quality are superb. This disc deserves a night in your theater.
I know I am going to be hammered for leaving out the Eagles, Peter Frampton and many other fine bands. I can only say that this is my current top 5 and while it evolves with time, you can’t go wrong with any of these concerts.
What was the best concert you ever attended?