Friday, 20 April 2012

It's Alive!

Gibson recently published The Top 10 Live Bands, along with the statement that "the best bands combine great music and great theatrics." Fair enough, but for me it goes deeper than that.

For me, it's more about how they will deliver. Whenever I'm experiencing a live performance, I have at least three questions running through my mind:
1. Will they - or how will they - replicate the recording? With some songs it's impossible. But I'm always wondering what tricks will be used to duplicate - or indicate - the original recorded performance.
2. Will they make mistakes? Call it the NASCAR syndrome. You know, will there be a crash?
3. How will they keep it fresh? Let's face it: they've played - and you've heard - the song a million times. Will the performance be autonomous, or spontaneous?

The last question the most interesting.

Switching genres, I recently saw a concert given by Lang Lang, the classical piano sensation. One of the pieces he performed was Liszt's Liebestraum, a piece so overplayed it's a cliché (yes, you have heard it). Lang Lang possessed that music. Every note, every gesture, every nuance in his performance made me feel, not that I was hearing the piece for the first time, but that I was actually listening to the premiere performance, that he was making the music up on the spot.

That's a combination of great music and great theatrics.

By the way, here's the list:
1. The Who
2. Led Zeppelin
3. The Rolling Stones
4. The Allman Brothers
5. The Flaming Lips
6. AC/DC
7. The Stooges
8. Iron Maiden
9. Pink Floyd
10. Queen

Good list. I've seen some of 'em live and a few on DVD, and they all rock.

For years, Led Zeppelin was the best concert I ever attended. Until the first time I saw Tom Petty, then I had a new number one. The next three times I saw Tom Petty I had a new number one too. I've been to a lot of concerts and seen some pretty big acts, so Petty was really good at meeting my criteria.

Then I finally saw McCartney and everything else paled. Talk about being challenged to keep things fresh! And man, did he succeed.

So he's my number 1. Sorry Eric.

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