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The Best Live Concerts I've Been To

Updated on August 18, 2015
Live concerts
Live concerts | Source

A Musical Trip Down Memory Lane

This was so much fun! Putting this page together, I mean -- watching and listening to the live musical performances on video while remembering all those great shows, including many other concerts that didn't make my top ten list.

I've seen so many excellent concerts by a wide variety of artists in all sorts of genres, so it was difficult to boil it down to ten favorite live shows. And if you ask me tomorrow, some of my top ten picks might change. Or at least change order.

But as of today, here are how my favorite concerts stack up....

#10: Kansas Live in Concert

Kansas in Concert in a Small Club in South Florida

I listened to this band a lot in college, so I was happily surprised to see an ad in the paper one day, saying Kansas would be playing at a club in West Palm Beach. This was in the early 90s when I was living in South Florida, where I could see any number of famous singers and bands in large venues. But it was a rare treat to enjoy one of my favorites live in a more intimate setting.

Well, I don't remember the name of the club all these years later, but it couldn't have held more than a few hundred people. I was able to walk right up to the stage--it was a polite crowd, no pushing or shoving--and get a close-up look at these guys I'd never even seen a photo of before.

By then, Kansas's popularity had declined some, and they weren't playing the larger arenas, but they sounded great! They were energetic and personable and visited with the small but enthusiastic crowd after the show.

The Best of Kansas
The Best of Kansas

You can download any or all of these 12 classic Kansas songs -- "Carry on Wayward Son," "Dust in the Wind," and so forth -- buy the CD (with extra tracks), and even get a copy of cassette tape (remember those?) or on vinyl, otherwise known as a "record." Yep, those were the days....of crackling and scratches.

 

Classic Kansas is Awesome Live - Dust in the Wind is one of my all-time favorite songs....

#9: Big & Rich Live in Concert

They Have a Big and Rich Sound

I knew just a couple of songs by these guys when I spontaneously decided to go see them in concert in Las Vegas in 2007--"Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy" and the popular ballad, "Lost in this Moment." I'd seen John Rich on TV after he'd won a song-writing award and found out he'd written a number of hits for other artists. So I knew I liked his music, whether he and Big Kenny were singing it or not. But after the concert, I was a BIG Big & Rich fan.

They put on an exciting, quality show, made even better by the fact that John and Kenny really seem to like each other. Kenny's theatrics added a fun element to the performance, which was filled with both high-energy, rockin' tunes and ballads that included their awesome harmonies.

Between Raising Hell and Amazing Grace
Between Raising Hell and Amazing Grace

I love the combination of John Rich's higher voice and "Big Kenny" Alphin's lower range ... not to mention their styles and personalities. It's like they blend so well by being so different.

This, their third album as a duo, includes hits like the ballad "Lost In This Moment" and "Between Raising Hell And Amazing Grace."

 

A Fun Mix of Country and Rock-n-Roll

#8: Phil Collins Live in Concert

Phil Collins in Concert: a Surprise Favorite

I had always liked Phil Collins' music well enough, but, still, I'd often find myself flipping stations, looking for something else when one of his songs would come on the radio. I got tired of his songs fairly quickly.

Until I saw him live, that is. Talk about an exciting concert, with several drummers, a horn section, back-up singers, and a great light show. The crowd was on its feet pretty much the entire time (which I remember being somewhere around three hours), from the front of the stadium to the back.

What a class act Phil Collins is. I haven't listened to him much in a while, but I'd go see him in concert again in a heartbeat.

Phil Collins - Hits
Phil Collins - Hits

There are 16 tracks on this album, most of which remind me of high school (in the 80s), especially "Sussudio" and "In the Air Tonight," both of which I think were played at every single school dance. No one was quite sure how to dance to "In the Air Tonight," so we'd all just stand around bopping our heads and singing, playing our air drums for the solo.

 

The Drumming Makes Me Want To Dance - Is this not more exciting live, or what?

#7: James Taylor Live in Concert

JT in Concert: Personable and on Perfect Pitch

I had loved James Taylor's music for years before I ever saw him live. But I'd honestly expected his concert to be ... well, a little boring, actually.

But, boy, was i wrong! James not only sounded perfect (not that I was listening for sour notes), but he was lively, funny, and engaged with the crowd. I saw him live twice, several years apart, and was equally as thrilled with his performance on both occasions. Honestly, I've seen famous rock-and-roll bands that, while fun on a recording, couldn't hold a candle to JT live.

The Best of James Taylor
The Best of James Taylor

There's not a word to any of these 20 songs that I don't know (or think I know, anyway). "Sweet Baby James," "Fire and Rain," "You've Got a Friend," "Mexico" -- it just doesn't get any better than classic JT.

 

I Could Listen To Him Sing The Phone Book - But I'd rather listen to him sing "Fire and Rain"....

#6: Bon Jovi Live in Concert

Quality Rock and Roll

There's a reason this band has been around since 1983.

Bon Jovi may have had the signature hair-dos in the '80s and beyond, but they're not "just a hair-band" and never were, if you ask me. These guys are talented songwriters, musicians and singers, led by a charismatic front man who knows how to work an audience and deliver the goods.

Like many of the other performers I've listed here, when you go to a Bon Jovi show, you see fans of all ages, from children to seniors, all singing along and dancing.

Bon Jovi Greatest Hits [The Ultimate Collection][2 CD Deluxe Ed
Bon Jovi Greatest Hits [The Ultimate Collection][2 CD Deluxe Ed

It's not often you find a band that's been together for three decades (although another band on my list-- the Scorpions--have been). Bon Jovi was formed in 1983 and survived the "hair band" era, after which many of their musical contemporaries disappeared. But not Jon and friends, who continued cranking out the tunes that are still popular today. Well ... I like them, anyway. And they were really fun live every time I saw them, which was at least three times.

 

Rock and Roll For All Ages

#5: The Scorpions Live in Concert

The Best Metal Band Ever

Once I heard "Rock You Like A Hurricane" for the first time, I was hooked. People would classify this band as "heavy metal," which (before I really had a clue about what heavy metal was) conjured up images of sneering, leather-clad rockers screaming into their microphones. To me, though, the Scorpion's brand of rock was unique, tasteful, melodious and sexy, and it always made me want to sing along.

And the awesome Scorpions concert I saw isn't on my top ten JUST because lead singer, Klaus Meine, gave me a rose during the show. (Although, that sure didn't hurt!) I saw them in Florida back in the early 90s and loved every minute of it. Hm, I wonder if they're still touring these days. I would really like to see them again.

Bad For Good: The Very Best of Scorpions
Bad For Good: The Very Best of Scorpions

This awesome album includes "Wind of Change," "Rock You Like a Hurricane." (LOVE that song!), "No One Like You," "Rhythm of Love," "Still Loving You," and "Send Me an Angel" and ten more favorites from the Klaus and the boys.

 

Yes, This Really Is a "Heavy Metal" Band

Klaus gives me the chills (in a good way)

I really like the combination of the Scorpions and the Symphony. Klaus's voice is still as pure as ever. (And he's still a hottie, too!)

#4: Billy Joel Live in Concert

An American Classic in Concert

Billy Joel makes you feel like the audience is hanging out with him in his living room, even when he's in a huge stadium. He's so down-to-earth. And when he plays the "oldies," which you know he's played thousands of times, he sings and plays them like they're new hits that he still enjoys.

Even when I saw him live (three times) in the '90s, he was apologizing for no longer being able to hit some of the higher notes, but I thought he sounded great and still do. He puts his heart and soul and a lot of energy into his performances, and I find him so likable, which makes his shows even better.

Billy Joel Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 & 2
Billy Joel Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 & 2

Now, who doesn't know "Piano Man"? Or "Just the Way You Are"? It seems like every year that I watch American Idol or some of these other singing competitions, they either have a Billy Joel night or someone is choosing to sing a Billy song for some other theme. And for good reason -- his music is timeless.

This album includes classics like "It's Still Rock And Roll To Me," "Allentown," "Only the Good Die Young" and more, available in MP3, CD, cassette, or vinyl.

 

Yes, He's Still Got It - Watch and listen as Billy performs at the Tokyo Dome

#3: Neil Diamond Live in Concert

Live Neil is the Best Neil

As a kid in high school in the 80s, it wasn't cool to like Neil Diamond. But I didn't care. I was HUGE fan and watched "The Jazz Singer" at least a half-dozen times. I listened to Neil way more than anyone on America's Top 40 back then.

So I was really excited when my parents surprised me with tickets to a Neil Diamond concert. And even though our seats were a good distance from the stage, his energy (and my binoculars) made me feel like I was in the front row. I could have cared less about being cool to my Madonna, Michael Jackson, and Prince-loving friends (and I liked them too). I thought Neil was awesome!

So what if he wore a dorky, glittering jacket?

The Essential Neil Diamond
The Essential Neil Diamond

If you ask me, Neil has never gone out of style. His music, that is. Even kids today somehow know at least a few of his songs, even if they have no idea who wrote or sang them.

 

It was Tough to Decide Which Neil Song To Choose - But I ended up with one of my many favorites, "Sweet Caroline"

#2: The Eagles Live in Concert

A Rare Eagles Concert

I saw this iconic band during their "Hell Freezes Over Tour." (Melissa Ethridge was their opening act, by the way. I think she had her first single out at the time.) And if I'd have closed my eyes, I could have been listening to one of their CDs. They sounded live just like they did on their albums.

Now, some people might say that's not such a great thing--that they'd like to a see a band do something a little unusual with a song now and then and maybe jam for a while. But I was just so thrilled to see and hear the Eagles play their huge number of hits live, I didn't care whether they played it like a CD box set. They played some of their lesser-known songs too, and Glen Frey, Don Henley, and Joe Walsh performed some of their solo hits as well.

Eagles : The Very Best Of (2CD)
Eagles : The Very Best Of (2CD)

Pick up the CD or download the full MP3 album to listen to 33 of the best songs ever written -- or performed -- over and over again, and all by this one group of talented guys who blend oh-so-well. They may have sometimes clashed personally and professionally over the years, but their harmonies certainly never did.

 

The Harmonies Are Just As Great Live as in the Studio - Performing "How Long" live at the CMAs....

#1: Trace Adkins Live in Concert

My Favorite Country Music Man

He makes me wanna shake my honky-tonk ba-donka-donk.

The first time I saw Trace live, I was really impressed with the quality of his show, not to mention with how nice the man is to look at in person. (Mm-hmm, yeah.) But I loved the show even more the second time through ... and I think I'm up to the seventh. You see, after my first Trace concert, I knew the men in the band so the tickets were free. And after the fourth show, I'd met the man himself, which made the show even MORE fun.

You can read the story of how I met Trace Adkins' band and, eventually, Trace as well by visiting the link below the video. But even if I'd not been so lucky to cross paths with them, a Trace concert would still be one of my top picks. I've just become a big country music fan and enjoy everything from his fun rockin' tunes to his ballads sung in that amazing baritone of his. I find the crowds at Trace shows are friendly and always ready to get up and dance (at least they are near the front, where I sit).

And it doesn't hurt that I have a crush on the big guy.

American Man: Greatest Hits Vol. II
American Man: Greatest Hits Vol. II

I have friends who say they "hate" country music, but I've caught a few of them tapping toes and even bopping and smiling to "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk," and one of said haters was singing along too. So you don't have to be a country fan to like Trace tunes, including the beforementioned and a dozen other songs by this hunka-hunka deep-voiced, pony-tailed man on this album.

 

Here's The Man!

© 2010 Deb Kingsbury

Tell Me About Your Favorite Live Performance - Or one you'd love to see....

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    • Andrea RM profile image

      Andrea RM 4 years ago

      I'd have to say my favorite concert was The Police's, back in 2009. It wasn't the best concert I've been to, but I started listening to this band (and fell in love with them) in 1985 (I was 7 at the time)... and by then, they had already split. So I went through my teens and early young(er) adulthood thinking that I would never ever get the chance to see what was essentially my favorite band through all of my teens.

      I have all of their tapes. Yes: tapes.

      So, when I heard they were to be reunited and make one final tour as a band, I was ecstatic. I'd finally get the chance I'd never though I'd get: to see them play live. And I wasn't disappointed. :)

      (I wish Leonard Cohen would do a concert here -Chile-, but that is highly unlikely, infortunately)

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 5 years ago

      Oh gosh, I don't get out much ... I remember The Osmonds and Engelbert Humperdink were both pretty good performances. Keith Urban and Toby Keith were great. Would love to see Gogol Bordello. You've surely named some classics.

    • profile image

      NC Shepherd 5 years ago

      Geez, I haven't even been to 10 concerts! I really like most of these bands here. And Dust in the Wind is one of my all-time favorite songs. My favorite live performance was Steve Miller Band. But perhaps the most memorable was Reba. It was at Blossom Music Center --- an outdoor amphitheater --- in a thunder & lightning downpour. Getting out of the muddy parking "field" later was dicey.

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image
      Author

      Deb Kingsbury 6 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      @Rita-K: That's true ... whenever I go see a great show, that becomes a top ten. Well, I have been to some real duds, but more often than not, the live shows I see tend to be excellent and fun.

    • Rita-K profile image

      Rita-K 6 years ago

      I think every live performance I see is my favorite at the time...my most memorable is the Beatles concert in 1964 because it was my first and we got to go backstage afterwards. Love your lens and the music you choose...lots of fun.

    • joanhall profile image

      Joan Hall 6 years ago from Los Angeles

      You've been to a lot more concerts than me. I will overcome my jealousy and give this lens an Angel blessing and a feature on SquidAngel At Your Service.

    • profile image

      resabi 6 years ago

      Well, my sentimental favorite is taking my 14-year-old daughter to an nsync concert with her best friend and her best friend's mother (who is a very close friend of mine). It was so much fun and made such great memories that I have to give it top points.

    • drifter0658 lm profile image

      drifter0658 lm 6 years ago

      The only performers I've seen on your list was Kansas. Foreigner opened, Kansas was the second act, and Cheap Trick (maiden U.S. tour) were the headliners.