The Best Concert I Ever Saw? Tough Call.


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Photo by Richard Wilkins III

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Photo by Richard Wilkins Jr.

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Photo by Richard Wilkins III

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Photo by Richard Wilkins Jr.

This weekend is the “Global Citizen” Concert in New York City’s Central Park and it will feature one of my favorite bands ever, Pearl Jam. It takes me back a bit to a time when I saw Pearl Jam many years ago in New York City. That got me to thinking, what is the greatest concert I ever saw? When I tried to think that through, I just couldn’t pick one. I struggled mightily, and gave up on the whole idea.

So instead, I decided to pick out some of my favorites from the many. Here’s a list of some of the best.

  • The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Foo Fighters on my 16th birthday, May 11th 1999- I saw the Chili Peppers on the “Californication” tour alright- with the Foo Fighters on their third tour. It’s a super show on steroids in hindsight. Amazing show.
  • Green Day at Stabler Arena- No, it wasn’t the “Dookie” tour, it was the one right after it. It was an awesome show though, and they damn near blew the roof off the place.
  • The Rolling Stones in 1994 at the Meadowlands- The “Voodoo Lounge” tour was where I saw my first show ever, at Giants Stadium. The Counting Crows were the warm-up act, and it rained like hell. I got an education that night.
  • Bruce Springsteen on Labor Day 2012- It was my second time seeing the Boss, but my first time seeing him plugged in. I saw him at Citizens Bank Park that night, and it was amazing.
  • Jay Z opening the Barclays Center- I went to the final show of his sold-out run of shows to open the new arena in Brooklyn. Even if you’re not a huge rap fan, he puts on an amazing stage show. He lit the place up that night.
  • Aerosmith at Montage Mountain- I’ve seen them there several times, but I think the 1998 show, amidst their “Armaggedon” success, coming off of “Nine Lives” was the best show I saw them play. Steven Tyler is the ultimate showman.
  • The Dropkick Murphys at Terminal Five- This high energy show was days before St. Patrick’s Day in 2013, and it blew the roof off my favorite venue for a concert.
  • The Rolling Stones at Heinz Field in 2015- I saw the Stones in Pittsburgh on June 20th of this year, and between how much I loved the venue and how good they sounded playing less shows on this tour, it was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen.
  • The Foo Fighters at Citi Field in 2015- Dave Grohl has laid claim I think to being the ultimate rockstar of his generation. His throne on this tour added some comedy to an incredibly up-tempo show. They played for three hours, never really letting off the gas.
  • Tom Petty at the Spectrum on the “WildFlowers” Tour- I sat in row two for my second concert, seeing Petty and his Heartbreakers in Philadelphia in the legendary Spectrum.
  • Pearl Jam at Madison Square Garden- Just days before the Aerosmith show that I spoke of above, I went to see Pearl Jam on the “Yield” tour in New York City at Madison Square Garden. They hadn’t played much in America in the 1990s because of their feud with Ticketmaster, so the show was wild. It ended with “Alive,” and a wild crowd going nuts on the floor.
  • Live at the Allentown Fairgrounds- During the “Throwing Copper” tour, the band from York played in Allentown. Part of what was awesome here was the venue being awesome. Part of it was that the band was really good live.
  • Stone Temple Pilots at Stabler Arena- During the “Tiny Music” tour, I saw STP at Stabler Arena. I’ve never inhaled more smoke in my life, and yet it was an awesome time. It’s unfortunate that Weiland became such a mess, they were a great band.

I could go on and on, and I think I’m missing some great ones. Even so, this is a good list, if only to remind myself that I’ve seen some cool stuff.

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