2018 marked a decline in the number of concerts attended from last year’s 20. Just 15 (still enough) with 18 bands seen, Metallica the only repeat.
Like all years, I saw an array of styles ranging from folk to heavy metal. Looking back helps keep me going actually, as about a month or so ago I decided to call it quits and leave Drew’s Reviews with “Top 10 Best Rush Songs” as a final post. I’ve been working on it since March.
But I’ve had a small change of heart so we will see what 2019 brings. I’ve got four scheduled and three I’d like to see though I’m afraid the punitive price of tickets will cost me a chance to see the Rolling Stones. Regardless, 2018 introduced me to several bands I normally would not have seen, opened the doors to others and reacquainted me with a couple mostly heard on radio but I never dived deeper than what came through the airwaves.
Familiarizing yourself to bands you have only a basic knowledge of certainly brings a wider understanding of the musicians but helps you appreciate their music more and beyond the usual singles. Only a handful of shows stood out making the Top 5 easier to nail down but deciding on those rounding out the bottom five proved a bit harder as none of the concerts fell short. But if you regularly follow my reviews, then you can guess who ranked #1. So, I give you the Top 10 Concerts of 2018:
Best Concerts 2018
10. Alice in Chains, Bush, The Cult and Stone Temple Pilots
Not one, not two, not even three but four iconic bands that made their mark decades ago but still on tour today. In a rather long afternoon, Stone Temple Pilots opened the show followed by The Cult, then Bush and finally Alice in Chains who joined the in-progress Revolution 3 tour as headliner. The six-hour long show offered a great opportunity to see bands who reached their prime a while ago but still going strong today despite the loss of two popular lead singers. Bush took the honors for best performance but all four showed prowess and a desire to continue.
From the review: Although this Monsters of Alternative Rock (my slogan) didn’t exactly qualify as a music festival per say,… this show brought out legitimate headliners, albeit at smaller venues, to the large 18,000 seat amphitheater in a who’s who of bands that 20 years ago took college campus radio stations by storm.
9. Howard Jones
Howard Jones and a keyboard. That’s all that encompassed the Solo – The Songs And The Stories tour held at the Aladdin Theater. Jones, who toured arenas in the 80s thanks to “New Song” and “What Is Love” went small, real small, in a setting that held less than 1,000 people who got to enjoy his wit, stories and of course stripped down versions of his hits and deeper album tracks. It was nothing like I had ever experienced and something other artists should take note.
From the review: It was like hanging out in his living room while he dazzled and entertained on piano then turned around to those sitting on the couch to explain the meaning of the song or recall an experience with another.
Read the entire review: Concert Review: Songs, Stories and Some Soul on the Howard Jones Solo Tour
8. Social Distortion
Mike Ness didn’t punch anyone out, but did bellyache a little (seems to be a thing with him now, just play your music, man!), however mostly kept to the music and surprise, what a show. In fact, the setlist did not include some staples which can upset the aura of a performance but on this night Social Distortion produced an authentic concert and if the volume had not been turned up so high, they would probably rank a bit higher.
From the review: And while missed, along with some other fan favorites and live staples, Ness tapping into the band’s start, paying homage to an influence and letting everyone know they have songs in the tank bordered on brilliance.
Read the entire review: Concert Review: Social Distortion Keeps it Real in Portland
Toby who? TobyMac, one of the members of DC Talk, a Christian rap group that started in the 80s, eventually went out on his own to critical acclaim and success. He filled the Moda Center and truth be told, I went to test out my new camera. I don’t care for hip hop and hate rap but TobyMac is far more than those labels. He hardly raps and when he does it totally fits and accentuates his songs, but I would place his style beside megastar Justin Timberlake.
From the review: TobyMac’s catalogue offers a diverse collection of songs that dives deep into hip hop, of course rap, but with some backbone of rock and a body of pop. Call it a new genre: Hip Pop. (You heard it here first.)
Read the entire review: Concert Review: TobyMac Builds Another Bridge in Portland
6. Chris Isaak
Roy Orbison. Elvis Presley. Nope Chris Isaak. Though he considers the aforementioned two musical idols, Isaak has come into his own and been around forever. He tours all the time and honestly one show pretty much duplicates the one from last year and the year before but this guy was born to play and lives for live music. Isaak would likely have made this list nonetheless but playing at the rather intimate and out of the ordinary Athletic Club of Bend in Bend, OR gets him a notch or two higher.
From the review: Isaak and his band don’t put on a flashy rock show with lasers, video backdrops or strobes instead just let the live music do all the talking.
Read the entire review: Concert Review: Chris Isaak Works Out in Bend
5. Foo Fighters
These guys made the Top 10 list last year too! Foo Fighters is the real deal and founder, singer, and guitarist Dave Grohl brings an unmatched entertainment spectacle. Foo Fighters bring fun, hard rocking chords and awesome music wherever they go. Last year, they played a smaller venue than the Moda Center in Portland which got them to #3 and this year they headlined some stadiums, but packed Moda and delivered a great set. I must say though, the constant screaming gets a bit old and takes some charm away from a number of songs.
From the review: Who needs a line of coke when you can get three hours of Foo?
Read the entire review: Concert Review: Unrestrained and Unrelenting Foo Fighters Establish New Hard Rock Boundaries
Little gives a music fan more delight when aging rock stars not only show so much left in the tank but that age is just a number. Toto, the curators of classic hits like “Africa” (which some bozo millennial “music reviewer” described as racist), “Hold the Line” and dare I submit their latest “Alone” (seriously check it out), has life and lots of it. Playing a two-hour set at Portland’s finest certainly helped but guitarist Steve Lukather shredded and singer Joe Williams nailed all the notes.
From the review: Toto might get most of their airplay on adult contemporary or soft rock stations but this guy (Lukather) easily crosses the guitar hero line with straight-up hard rock chords and blistering, sometimes complex, solos.
Read the entire review: Concert Review: Toto Stops in Portland During 40 Trips Around the Sun Tour
3. Simple Minds
I won’t forget about the Simple Minds concert. This band from the 80s who recorded the ultra-smash hit “Don’t You Forget About Me” has not rested on their past but continue to move forward releasing albums and touring, though not so much in the United States. It took these Scots 25 years to visit Portland again but they brought a most memorable show, a new album and hopefully a return sooner rather than later.
From the review: It didn’t matter if Simply Minds was playing the deeper “Honest Town” or the popular “See the Lights” this hypnotized packed house was into it from the start and didn’t let up until the band stepped off stage for the last time.
Read the entire review: Concert Review: Simple Minds Don’t Forget About Portland
2. G3 – Satriani, Petrucci and Collen
The year’s first concert blew my mind. G3, featuring the extraordinary guitar talents of Joe Satriani, John Petrucci of Dream Theater and Phil Collen of Def Leppard, offered some of the finest musicianship I’ve ever witnessed. Collen is more than the lead on “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” Petrucci dazzled with an dynamic performance and Satriani shows he’s a wizard on the fretboard. The venue, Elsinore Theatre in Salem, OR, was elegant and when all three guitarists took the stage, well, you had to be there. By the way, G3 wasn’t too far away from the #1 spot.
From the review: A few songs into his set, Satriani addressed the crowd and said, “Every night is mind blowing stuff.” Yes. Yes, it was.
Read the entire review: Concert Review: G3 – Satriani, Petrucci, and Collen SHRED Salem
Metallica in Portland not only was the best concert of the year but now ranks among the top I have ever seen. Venue matters as their stadium show in Seattle last year prevented their inclusion into the Top 10 and had I only seen the Spokane, WA show a few days prior to Portland they would rank #2 on this list. They get short-changed a bit as I won’t include the Spokane show which still deserves ranking but the Portland show far exceeded Spokane and was quite simply electrifying.
From the review: Rarely do I get chills at a band’s performance, but the crescendo to “One” released some shivers and then on to “Master of Puppets” another beloved jewel by fans and radio – a song now more than 30 years old that fully stands the test of time.
Read the entire review: Concert Review: Metallica – Masters of Portland