Top 10 Concerts of 2019

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So much for putting a quiet end to Drew’s Reviews.

Last year I struggled with whether to call it a blog and at one point had made up my mind with a plan to end it, leaving the Top 10 Best Rush Songs as my final entry. As it turned out I changed my mind, still posted the blog but planned on a slower 2019.

That slowness resulted in 21 concerts covering 23 bands, seeing several acts I had never heard before, my biggest interview and a record number of clicks which surpassed 2018’s visits by mid-October. I got to see three concerts for free thanks to Gin Blossom’s drummer Scott Hessel, my hemming and hawing over whether to see REO Speedwagon which left me viewing from the “free” seats and Vince Neil of Motley Crue fame hit a nearby casino.

Some bands kept ticket prices low, cheap actually by today’s standards, however a trip to Las Vegas to see Duran Duran twice, and oh guess who else is playing too, pretty much popped the average ticket cost back up to way too expensive for a blog that doesn’t pay.

At any rate, next year Kansas stops by so I’ll finally cross them off my music bucket list and Dave Mustaine, who has (hopefully) beaten cancer, plans a return to the road with Megadeth and sounds ready to rock. TobyMac should also have an emotional return to the stage, Samantha Fish returns as a headliner and I still have my Ozzy Osbourne ticket from last summer’s canceled tour.

No more scheduled concerts for the rest of the year so I bring you the Best Concerts of 2019 and as usual I’ll start with #10 and work my way to #1.

Best Concerts 2019

10. KISS – The End of the Road Tour

The first US stop for “The End of the Road” tour hit the Moda Center in Portland, OR and nearly a year later the guys continue their farewell tour even recently announcing a return to the area in September 2020. KISS I’m pretty sure will never end and they give one heck of a showstopper. I was never a huge fan of the band but the live show is like none other. They bring a spectacle to the stage, themselves included.

Tommy Thayer (L) and Paul Stanley (R) of KISS
Tommy Thayer (L) and Paul Stanley (R) of KISS

From the review: “Even if you don’t like the music. Go. That’s what I did, but years ago now. And haven’t missed them since. Nor was I going to miss them on this tour.”

Read the entire review: Concert Review: Portland Rock City as KISS Says Farewell

9. Chris Tomlin – Holy Roar Tour

Chris who? Yeah, Chris Tomlin. An overlooked musician with lots of chops and a great personality. No doubt being a Christian and employing his faith into his music does him no good on the mainstream front but not my loss because I saw him and would go back in a heartbeat. Tomlin cut up, then reformatted the traditional idea of a rock concert at the Moda Center in Portland and blew the house away.

Chris Tomlin

From the review: “People not of the Christian faith need not fear a Chris Tomlin show. It’s a rock concert no doubt, he doesn’t hide where he stands (but does anyone else?), and he might do things a bit different and off-the-cuff but that’s the beauty of it all. It’s different but not that different.”

Read the entire review: Concert Review: Chris Tomlin Descends on Portland With a Shout

8. Samantha Fish

I first heard of Samantha Fish earlier this year and as reviews of her prowess trickled in she got my attention. This lady makes many of her male contemporaries and those in bands who headline arenas look amateurish on the guitar. She’s got a classy voice and an overwhelming stage presence.  I don’t see her opening for bands at small venues for very long which is how I caught her at Revolution Hall in Portland. Samantha Fish would rank much higher on this “Best of 2019” list if not for the short opening setlist.

Samantha Fish at Revolution Hall in Portland, OR

From the review: “Her voice. Simply intoxicating. A tone like no other. Almost like a drug. Give me more. She redefines ear candy. Never mind she’s an eyeful. Topped with platinum blond locks. Leather pants and high heels. Please know she rocks out on those high heels. Sometimes tippy-toe dancing while squirreling her fingers up and down the fretboard like a seasoned veteran accustomed to selling our arenas.”

Read the entire review: Concert Review: Samantha Fish Intoxicates Portland

7. The Black Keys – Let’s Rock Tour

A last minute addition to the list The Black Keys won me over dropping Canadian rockers Sloan off (honestly Sloan was neck and neck with KISS). To illustrate, I tried reviewing their new album “Let’s Rock” earlier this year but just couldn’t get into it. They have a unique guitar centric sound and the two primary members, singer / guitarist Dan Auerback and drummer Patrick Carney, fully have their craft down but their studio albums hardly compare to The Black Keys live show.

Dan Auerback of The Black Keys sings the opening to “Little Black Submarines”

From the review: “The Black Keys don’t seem like kids anymore and you can tell they have matured in their musicianship and technique. Yet, they defy any description of pretentious rock stars. Auerbach’s vocals sounded a few octaves removed from the album versions and whether an accurate assessment or not, it worked perfectly.”

Read the entire review:  Concert Review: The Black Keys Open Their Garage Door in Portland

6. REO Speedwagon

No way. Yep. And not just because it was free. These old school rockers who come from arena busting shows in the early 80s continue to defy age and the odds as REO Speedwagon tour incessantly on the coattails of their smash hits from 40 years ago and they sound just as good as ever. But what made this show so surprising is, finally, after so many years of seemingly the same thing over and over again REO Speedwagon mixed it up, brought in some new songs and made all their hits sound so fresh.

REO Speedwagon at L.B. Day Amphitheater
Dave Amato (L) and Kevin Cronin (R) of REO SPeedwagon

From the review:  “I am well aware that Monday’s show just might encapsulate the current arrangement of the REO Speedwagon live show but seeing them again, for the first time, I’d do it all again next week for the second time.”

Read the entire review: Concert Review: REO Speedwagon Rolls and Makes Some Changes

5. Switchfoot – Native Tongue Tour

Switchfoot returned from a short hiatus with a new album and embarked (at the time) on the best tour of their career. I saw them twice on the Native Tongue tour and because of the size and scope of the rather intimate concert at the McDonald Theatre in Eugene, OR the experience surpassed the bigger crowds in the tight confines of the Crystal Ballroom in Portland. (Someday maybe someone from their camp will read my reviews and see I only mean them well when I encourage a different venue.) Switchfoot continues to rock 20 years after forming and on both nights played a full set and the best show I had seen from them.

Jon Foreman (L) and Drew Shirley (R) of Switchfoot

From the review: “Switchfoot has mastered rock music, and now the stage show, have 11 studio albums and a core group of musicians who seem to love one another, making music and their fans. Nothing is sound, but seems as though they can only go up from here.”

Read the entire review: Concert Review: Switchfoot Comes Alive in Eugene and Portland

4. Duran Duran

The Fab 5, I mean the Fab 4, continue to tour and make music. A short west coast stint in the United States earlier this year showed Duran Duran remains on top of their game and the passion still burning. It’s been a while since they released an album but social media posts indicate a new one forthcoming and I can’t wait. I saw Duran Duran back-to-back at The Chelsea in Las Vegas and while night one was enjoyable, night two felt like the party of the year.

A natural photo featuring (from left to right) John Taylor, Dom Brown and Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran

From the review: “There was something in the air on Sunday (no not that) perhaps a different crowd, the adrenaline still coursing through from Saturday, the anticipation of what was to come or maybe just a new day but Duran Duran managed to out-do themselves on Sunday with another raucous night of songs that kept most everybody on their feet for nearly two hours.”

Read the entire review: Concert Review: Duran Duran is Alive and Well

3. Switchfoot – Fantastic Traveling Music Show

Wait, what? Two different tours and, honestly, if I had the wherewithal to post Top 10 Concerts of the year in 2015 Rush would have claimed most of the spots despite being the same tour. Switchfoot brought “An evening with” to a new level and their Fantastic Traveling Music Show at the Redding Civic Auditorium in Redding, CA raised the bar and something they will have a hard time surpassing. They began the evening with an acoustic set and followed with a stellar rock show that proved these guys belong on a bigger stage.

Tim Foreman and Jon Foreman of Switchfoot

From the review: “After a 25 minute intermission, Foreman took the stage with guitar in hand and started into “Daisy” another deep album track, this one from 2005’s Nothing Is Sound, then Tim Foreman walked on, followed by Shirley as the three played then the black curtain behind them dropped and the band was fully plugged in and rocking – even Fontamillas was on guitar for this one.”

Read the entire review: Concert Review: Switchfoot’s Fantastic Traveling Music Show Pure Gold

2. Collective Soul and Gin Blossoms – Now’s The Time Tour

One of the best shows of the year and one I thought no one could drop from the perch. Gin Blossoms, riding a resurgence in popularity thanks to their new album Mixed Reality, delivered perhaps their finest performance as they co-headlined (but show openers) the Now’s The Time Tour which stopped by the Cowlitz Ballroom at Ilani Casino in Ridgefield, WA. Collective Soul, fresh off their new album Blood, followed, a band I had never seen, had always wanted to see and will no doubt see again.

Singer Ed Roland of Collective Soul

From the review: “This was an evening of musical fine art with two veteran bands owning a solid foundation and a promising future.”

Read the entire review: Concert Review: All Charisma and Heart with Collective Soul and Gin Blossoms

1. Def Leppard – Las Vegas Residency

Hands down the best concert of 2019 belongs to Def Leppard. These veteran rockers show no sign of letting up, sound as good as ever and their residency at Zappos Theater in Las Vegas completely redefined what it means to see a Def Leppard show. Hits and deep album cuts, an extensive 24 song set list and no opening band. Whew, need a break just thinking about it. They return to the road next year on a stadium tour with now un-retired Motley Crue and Poison. I wouldn’t bet it comes anywhere close to their residency show.

Def Leppard guitarists Vivian Campbell (L) and Phil Collen (R)

From the review:  “It doesn’t matter where you fall on the fan spectrum: It was epic.”

Read the entire review: Concert Review: Def Leppard Refuses to Burn Out or Fade Away

11 comments

  1. Great list Drew. Some awesome shows and the only one I saw was the Kiss Tour which was awesome. I am a little jealous on the Lep Vegas Residency show. I so wanted to fly out and see that, but was unable as I just saw Kiss and Queen the same month so I was tapped out at the time. Keep the concert reviews coming in 2020.

  2. Great List! As John says keep em coming!
    Trust me as I think as bloggers at some point we want to pack it in or just stop.
    When I started, my first post was KISS when I reviewed KISS’s Dynasty album that was my 500th post. I was about to pack it in. Start with KISS end with KISS but that was over two years ago. Sounds kind of creepy how I just typed that.
    Don’t stop pal we enjoy the reviews.
    Merry Xmas dude and keep on rocking at them live shows!

    1. Thanks deke. Thanks for all the comments. You guys keep me going. And, I started on one more year ender so I’ll get that up soon.

  3. That’s quite the list of shows there, man. There aren’t many of them I would probably go out to see myself, but I would like to see The Black Keys (although I haven’t really liked their last few albums, I appreciate they’d still deliver the goods in the live setting) and Duran Duran. That said, I wouldn’t mind seeing Kiss… if only to see David Lee Roth!

    1. Also… you’ve got me intrigued about Samantha Fish. New one for me, so I’ll need to look up her sounds on the streaming service!

    2. Thanks J! I just heard about David Lee Roth. I agree, I am tempted to go when they come back around just to see what he’s like.

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