Top live shows of 2017: #’s 15 – 11

We’re halfway through my list of top live shows of the year.  Who’s in the top half?

#15 – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Scottrade Center – St. Louis, MO May 12th.

This was an impressive show with a sold-out crowd.  Tom Petty and his crew had a fun time tearing through a lot of classic hits, and the performance took on a deeper meaning to my wife and I after Petty’s death at the end of this tour.  We’d wanted to see him for a long while, so we were thankful we caught him in time.

#14 – Buddy Guy – Lerner Theatre – Elkhart, IN September 9th.

Blues legend Buddy Guy is pushing 90 and still shredding better than guitarists a third of his age.  He dazzled with his skill and spoke openly about the importance of love and compassion in these tough times.

#13 – Depeche Mode – Air Canada Centre – Toronto, ON September 3rd.

Depeche Mode were a big part of our high school years, so it was surprising that it took my wife and I so long to finally catch them live.  It was a solid set with new and classic tracks and one of the best encores we saw all year.

#12 – Deap Vally – Valley Bar – Phoenix, AZ March 11th.

Deap Vally are easily one of the best live bands of this decade.  This set at Phoenix’s VIVA PHX festival was a stunner.  I always feel bad for any band that has to follow them, and getting to chat with them after the show was an added treat.

#11 – The Black Angels – Thalia Hall – Chicago, IL May 11th.

I won’t skip an opportunity to see the Black Angels.  I’ve already bought tickets to see them at next year’s Levitation Austin festival.  This set in Chicago was a great start to a fun weekend with my wife, and the Black Angels played more aggressively than I’d seen them in a long while.

Who cracks the top 10?  Tune in tomorrow to find out!

Keep your mind open.

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Thank you, Tom Petty.

To say that Tom Petty had a legendary career is an understatement, but that is how he should be remembered.  I was lucky enough to catch his 40th anniversary (and final) tour earlier this year at a packed St. Louis arena.  It was a solid show with many great tracks throughout it.

Petty’s songs are a part of Americana even if you didn’t grow up in the 1970’s or 1970’s.  He could play everything from garage rock to country blues, and his influence on music reaches around the globe.

Many forget his great contributions to music videos.  Petty was a known lover of music videos, and he and his band came to prominence as MTV skyrocketed in popularity and outreach.  Petty took an active role in the scripts, art, and filming of his music videos and made some of the more innovative ones of the time.

Not many of us get to do what we love for forty years, let alone receive worldwide accolades for it.  It’s okay to mourn Petty, but don’t let it ruin you.  He lived and he rocked.  Do the same.

Keep your mind open.

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Live – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Joe Walsh – St. Louis, MO – May 12, 2017

My wife and I honeymooned in St. Louis twenty years ago, and we ended up back there for our twentieth anniversary.  It was great timing because not only were we going to see the Cubs play the Cardinals (Cardinals win 5-3), but we also had tickets to see rock legends Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Joe Walsh.  Tom Petty has been high on my wife’s bucket list for years.  She’s also a big fan of the Eagles, so the addition of Joe Walsh was a win-win.

Joe Walsh just getting warmed up.

Mr. Walsh came out with nine people in his band behind him, including four back-up singers and two drummers.  He quickly got to work with “Meadows” and then dialed up “Ordinary Average Guy.”  You could tell he was having fun by then.  He threw down “The Bomber” by the James Gang (“Was part of that from Bolero?” My wife asked.  Answer: “Yes.”) and made my wife cry when he played “Take It to the Limit” and dedicated it to Glenn Frey.  “In the City” hits harder live than you expect it will, and people went nuts for “Life’s Been Good.”

I was yelling “Golden throat!” by this point, and sure enough he ended with “Rocky Mountain Way.”  It’s easy to forget how good a guitarist Walsh is.  He can still shred and the golden throat effects on this track are still fun after all these years.

Walsh proving he can still shred.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers started their set with the first song off their first album – “Rockin’ Around (with You).”  They unleashed “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” next and played it so well and with such fervor that it could’ve been the encore.  “I could go home right now,” my wife said as we sat there with our mouths hanging open in stunned appreciation.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers playing “Mary Jane’s Last Dance.”

They tore through many of their biggest hits, including “You Don’t Know How It Feels,” “I Won’t Back Down,” and “Freefallin'” (a big crowd favorite).  Two surprises were “It’s Good to Be King” and the lovely, acoustic “Wildflowers.”

“Wildflowers” – a lovely part of the set.

“Refugee” slayed the place, and the band was firing on all cylinders by this point. “Runnin’ Down a Dream” was almost a full-on psychedelic mind trip with its accompanying visuals.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers getting trippy.

There was a nice salute to hometown hero Chuck Berry when they played “Carol,” and they ended, no surprise, with “American Girl,” which had everyone jumping.  It was a great end to a wonderful set.  It’s hard to believe Petty and his band are on a 40th anniversary tour, because many of his songs still sound so fresh.

“American Girl”

Keep your mind open.

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