Thursday, March 20, 2008


This came up on a private mailing list I'm on. We were all discussing with astonishment that Leonard Cohen is going to play in St. John's (and has added shows). I have to admit some frustration that since I moved up here it feels like there have been more cool concerts hitting town that I would have liked to have seen. Fiest and Hawksley Workman being two that I can think of off the top of my head.

By the way, what's up with Cohen playing at a high school? I think he might be able to sell out a larger venue than that, no problem. If he sold out 2,500 tickets in an hour or so, I think he could easily fill Mile One. Or at least the Arts and Culture Centre, where the acoustics are better. And while there are no dates scheduled for Iqaluit, there is a mention that more dates would be scheduled later. I think someone needs to lobby for Iqaluit right now. That might beat the White Stripes show last year for pure weirdness.

Anyway, the discussion on my mailing list was "What are some of the best concerts you've attended?" Now, I don't normally throw out an open ended questions like this to my blog readers, but I am curious. What is the best concerts you've ever seen? And as an added bonus question, because it's usually good in the humiliation front, what was the first rock concert you ever went to?

Because it's my blog, I'm going to cheat and name a few of my favourites:
1. The White Stripes in Iqaluit ('07) – because nothing can beat that for pure weirdness. Plus, it was a hell of a good rock show. Jack White is a demon on stage.

2. Two Spirit of the West shows ('92 and '93) – The one at the Thompson Student Centre (TSC) was perhaps more fun because everyone, including the band I think, was drunk and rocking out. But the one at the Arts and Culture Centre was essentially a greatest hits show because they weren't promoting an album, they were just out touring for the hell of it. And since SPOTW started to suck after '93, it was as good as it gets with the band.

3. The Pursuit of Happiness at the TSC in '93 – memorable for the 10+ minute long version of "I'm an adult now", which is still one of my all-time favourite songs.

4. Sarah McLachlan at the Arts and Culture Centre ('92). My girlfriend at the time dragged me to see the show. I didn't know much about McLachlan, but she put off a fun and entertaining show and really got the audience involved. This was before she got all weepy and preachy. Plus, we were literally front row, centre. We could nearly touch her, we were that close.

5. The Chieftains at Mile One ('03, I think) – Because I've loved the Chieftains for years and had always wanted to see them. Great show, I just wish it had been longer and that the Ennis Sisters hadn't completely blown the encore with the band at the end of the show.

6. Chris De. Burgh at Memorial Stadium (late 80s) – I know it's easy to make fun of De Burgh and the really quite awful "Lady in Red", but he puts off a hell of a concert and always steps up his game when he plays St. John's, which he describes as his favourite place to play in North America. Worth it for when women pelted him with underwear during an acoustic version of "Patricia the Stripper" and he laughed so hard he fucked up the song.

As for my first concert, sadly it was Corey Hart and April Wine at Memorial Stadium back in '84, I think. By the way, Hart was opening for April Wine. "Sunglasses at Night" was only just starting to break big and April Wine was by far the bigger act, unlike the touring joke they are now. Oh, and for the record, Cathy's first rock concert was Samantha Fox at Memorial Stadium in, I think, '89.

And your list?

Addition: I have been chastised by Cathy for not naming her favourite concert of all time. It was Tina Turner live in Dublin during her farewell tour.

Last Five
1. Cocaine cowgirl - Matt Mays and El Torpedo
2. Duchess - Genesis
3. Goodnight Rose - Ryan Adams*
4. Tossed salad man (comedy) - Chris Rock
5. Jamaica Inn (live) - Tori Amos


Anonymous said...

well, I'd have to say my favorite concerts was INXS ,saw them in toronto and St john's,,St john's was by far the better show.Nickeback was second.And tim Mcgraw/Faith hill was good .The first concert I went to was Trooper. still love them.

Kirsten said...

Radiohead puts on a show that transcends reality. Let's just say life-changing. S'why I've seen them 8 times.

Afro Celt Sound System did an amazing show here at the Commodore in Vancouver - it's hard to get Vancouverites to dance, but it was impossible NOT to move. Pure energy.

Beck stunned me with the level of musicianship and the sheer creativity in performance & staging from him AND his band.

Soundtrack of our Lives was a great show - not one of my all-time favourites, but I'll never forget how the lead singer (a big, round man dressed like Friar Tuck) got the entire audience of 900+ people to SIT on the floor so he could walk around us singing as if to children at storytime.

I remember being very impressed by Michelle Shocked in Philadelphia, but then the next time I saw her it just wasn't the same... she'd gone a bit too gospel for my comfort.

FYI, I'd just like to mention that ARCTIC would be more than happy to play Iqaluit if someone would be willing to foot the bill for our transport..................... just saying.

Evelyn said...

Having only been to two "real" concerts, my list is fairly simple. The first concert I ever attended was Sam Roberts/Wintersleep, and it was great. Though it being my first one, I was probably a little naive on the awesomeness.

Second concert was Joel Plaskett. I saw him at an old decommisioned Baptist church in a small village in NS, September of last year. It seated 100 people, had perfect acoustics, no running water and it couldn't have been better.

I think it'll have to be a pretty great concert to top that one...

dups said...

Favourite concerts...

Red Hot Chilli Peppers in Edmonton, mostly cos I was a few rows from the stage thanks to a friend and his ticket buying skills and his wife who was too pregnant to go!

Nine Inch Nails in Vancouver (not so much in Edmonton). Was an awesome floor show and the first time I hung out with Jaap and Charlotte after a long break.

Everytime I've gone to see Big John Bates and the Voodoo Dollz, but especially at Edmonton's now defunct Sidetrack Cafe

Bedouin Soundclash here in Montreal (was bloody brilliant)

And for an outdoors-I'm-far-away show... Gotta be Manu Chao for Canada Day in Montreal at Jean Drapeau... wow unbelievable...

Now I ask you Craig, fine with the main acts but do you remember your favourite opening acts?

My top ones include watching Perfect Circle open for Nine Inch Nails. Just super-duper fantastic.

dups said...

Oh and I think you should find someone to pay Kirsten and Arctic to come up. Come on, their name SCREAMS Iqaluit!

Oh and my first concert ever, and still something dear to my heart was Pressure Drop at the TSC. Which is why I still have them in rotation on my iPod... yes I still like that album. I remember that as "what, there's a band of white folk doing reggae in St. John's ?!"

Anonymous said...

I remember that Spirit of the West concert. The TSC was on wheels. The TSC floor was flooded with beer. I mean a lot of draft beer-everwhere. You are right they kinda went downhill after that.

Fav concerts in St. John's: Pearl Jam in 2006-awesome stuff; Tragically Hip in 1992 at the Memorial Stadium. Concert was originally supposed to be at Canada Games Park. I believe they were touring Fully Completly album. One of their best records! The place was a gong show!

Favourite concert for me was The Boss and the E street Band at ACC. The guy had no opening band and played for almost 3.5 hours. We were in the fourth row. Amazing entertainer!

towniebastard said...

1. I think Arctic playing up here would be fun. Toonik Time, the annual "spring" festival is coming up mi-April, but I suspect that's too soon. I should start asking some of the people in the local music scene what help there is for bands who would like to come up.

The best I can offer is a couch to sleep on, where a littl dog will likely sleep on you.

2. I saw Joel Plaskett during one of the ECMA showcases back in '03, I think, playing at Club One. It was a revelation at the time. Got some great photos of him (I was working when covering the show) and immediately went out the next day bought two of his CDs.

3. My favourite opening act is easy - Josh Ritter opening for Sarah Harmer at the Arts and Culture Centre. I thought Harmer, who I was there to see, was kind of pedestrian. But Ritter was a revelation. Just him in the middle of the ACC stage with his acoustic guitar. I bet maybe one in ten people in the audience had ever heard of him before, but he got a standing ovation and an encore request when he was finished. I've been a big fan ever since.

Clare said...

I put my answers up on my blog Craig, and turned it into a meme.

Keith said...

Most memorable...The Eagles at the Jubilee Auditorium...Calgary...1974.

Most fun...due to the mind altering substances being experimented with (and adopted as spot on), at the time...Rod Stewart at the Civic Center in Ottawa with my brother Ken...must have been circa 1977. Shanana was the opener and I remember we were sitting/standing/gawking right in front of Britt Ekland.

Others include The James Gang, (First I Look at the Purse) in Calgary when the climax involved the destruction on stage of all their equipment....and Valdy in Yarmouth, Andre Gagnon in Halifax.

Pat the Wench said...

I saw TPOH in 93 too, and I'd have to say that was my favourite concert ... I even got in backstage to meet the band.

Then again, my first concert was Glass Tiger in the 80s so what do I know!

Mrs. Smith said...

Awesome topic Craig.

I think one of the most memorable was seeing REM in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1986. It was my first "big" concert. I was 16. I was so cool for going. :)

I 2nd Dups about RHCP. I saw them at a small bar/bowling alley in Omaha in 1990. (Mother's Milk tour) I had to sit on the bar as they were totally violating fire code. I have photographic evidence of the gig. Anthony and Flee went bowling after the show to everyone's delight.

I've seen the Pixies numerous times. (Andrew hates me for it - but he saw them 2 years ago when they reunited) Every single show was insanely good.

Andrew and I saw Morrissey last year (front row!) and it ranks high on my all time list. Moz has INSANE fans. Who knew? I didn't but I'll never forget them.

Wilco played at a park near our house in Chicago one summer. There were maybe 200 people. It was a "practice" show for their Summerteeth tour. Good times.

There's too many Craig - I'll think of more later I'm sure! :)

towniebastard said...

Pat, I was back stage at the TPOH show as well. So was Kirsten. How weird is that? So we actually "met" about two years before we met. Bizarre.

And Karin, we all hate you because you live in a place where big musical acts occasionally stopped by. Newfoundland normally got acts on their way to extinction.

In Iqaluit said...

My first concerts were Janet Jackson and Sinead O'Connor in Ottawa, in the late 1980s while on summer vacation. I was pretty excited at the time but I don't like listening to music at such a large venue. I really wanted to see Cory Hart the year before but wasn't allowed to. So I bought as many Cory Harts pins I could find and wore them. I thought I was so cool.

In high school here in Iqaluit, I got to see Barenaked Ladies and Blue Rodeo. That was pretty amazing. A couple of years ago David Francey played here. That was good. And Taima was here too. I liked that.

And at university in the east coast, I got to see Barenaked Ladies, Blue Rodeo, Great Big Sea.

My husband has seen MANY concerts. He's the real concert go-er. Here's his list:

1. Pearl Jam, summer 1999 in Missoula, Montana
2. Wilco, winter 1999 in Cambridge, MA
3. Flaming Lips, 2001 in Cambridge, MA where he was part of the show where he was one of 30 people to press "play" on a boom box, all conducted by the band members
4. The White Stripes, spring 2007 in Iqaluit
(I asked to round out the list to 5, but he just wants it at 4).

I would love a chance to see Wilco play. And Josh Ritter.

Gish said...

Hawksley, oh Hawksley. Any show you catch of his will not be a disappointment.

and his new album is excellent.

Dale Kirby said...

Hard to choose THE best. Here are three that would compete for 1st place:

Billy Bragg at the El Mocambo in Toronto in 2003 (wife and I are BB fanatics).

The Chieftains at Massey Hall in Toronto on St. Patrick’s Day, 2005.

Van Morrison at the Molson Amphitheatre in Toronto in 2004.

Oddly enough, none of the concerts I have attended here in St. John’s make my short list.

Anonymous said...

Reviving an old Topic LOL!

The old Thompson Student Center at MUN was an awesome spot for concerts back in the 80's ... anyone who was anyone on the Canadian music scene back then blew thru there ... including some international acts!

Most memorable TSC shows? Platinum Blonde as a Police Tribute in Oct. '83 was awesome! "1964" as The Beatles in 1986 and Katrina and the Waves in '85 or '86 were a total blast! Blue Rodeo with local openers Dead Reckoning in Nov. '89 and The Northern Pikes in Oct. 1990 were fantastic shows as well ... good times!