–By Sean Derrick
Every publication I have covered shows for since 1990 I have compiled a “Best Of/Top Shows” year in review-style article. I didn’t include one last year because we had only begun publication in September, and the list would have been very short. Now that we have a full calendar year covered I can resume my list.
Now, I must preface this with a disclaimer: These are only for the performances I have seen. This year I witnessed roughly 72 performances, a low for me I admit. But another 106 performances in 40 nights were split among the rest of my wonderful staff, so I am happy to be able to spread the work around. We hope to have much more in 2018 and keep them, and myself, busy. But let’s take a look back at my favorite performances/shows from 2017 first.
As always, I don’t assign an order, just a Top 10. If you have a favorite we would love to hear from you, or if you would like to rank the ones you have seen we would love to hear that as well.
One of the Big 4 of Heavy Metal, Anthrax put on a show in May at The Pageant that became a litmus test for other aspiring metal bands to follow. With the never ending high energy output from guitarist Scott Ian and bassist Frank Bello leading the way the masters of metal showed why they are a legit Big 4 member. http://www.midwestrewind.com/2017/05/04/killthrax-tour-rocked-pageant-monday/
In This Moment
One of the allures of In This Moment is the mix of kick-ass metal riffs in catchy songs coupled with a phenomenal live show that incorporates theatrical essence with melodic metalcore. Their live show stands out from other metalcore acts that is turning heads. Vocalist Maria Brink is considered one of the top metal vocalists in the business. Seeing this band live should be on every metal heads’ checklist. I have caught this band live many times since 2010 and their show at The Pageant in June just showed how far they have come in the last eight years. http://www.midwestrewind.com/2017/07/01/moment-put-stunning-show-pageant-wednesday/
It’s hard to believe that this band has been around for over twenty years, yet only released four albums (and people thought Def Leppard took a long time between releases). The fact that the time between their last three tours hit half a decade each only left fans longing for shows. They may not tour often enough for some, but when they do they should be on everyone’s list. Vocalist Rob Thomas was sweating so much on stage during his performance I was seriously waiting for him to drop. He never did, thankfully, nor did he wane. Instead he seemed to get stronger as the night progressed, feeding on the crowd and the energy of the live performance. http://www.midwestrewind.com/2017/09/29/matchbox-20-counting-crows-gave-history-lessons-saint-louis-tuesday/
Gun ‘n Roses
Let’s face it, no one who lived through the era of the Riverport Riot expected the Bad Boys of Rock and Roll to return to the Gateway City ever, let alone 26 years later. But return they did, with an epic 3 and a half hour long spectacle at the Dome at America’s Center in July. With explosions, stellar light show and no breaks from the band the show was a constant in-your-face show with attitude. http://www.midwestrewind.com/2017/07/28/26-years-guns-n-roses-returned-saint-louis-stellar-concert-thursday/
The Piano Man’s show at Busch Stadium this fall brought back many memories for the 50,000 in attendance. Joel joked and deadpanned in between songs and proved that he is still relevant, even if he didn’t have any new material since River of Dreams in 1994. A testament that great music lasts, despite living in a world that is focused on “What have you done for me lately?” http://www.midwestrewind.com/2017/09/23/billy-joel-gave-sold-busch-stadium-crowd-wanted/
While Billy Joel is a master on the piano, Brad Paisley is a virtuoso on guitar. I swear he could fit in with any band he wanted to, from country to hard rock. His show in September was guitar focused, not only on him, but on openers Lindsay Ell and Chase Bryant each showcasing their talents on the axe. Throw in Dustin Lynch and you had a full-fledged country concert that was worth the band for the buck. http://www.midwestrewind.com/2017/09/26/brad-paisley-closed-tour-saint-louis-high-note/
KSHE 50th Anniversary show with Sammy Hagar, ZZ Top, and Collective Soul
Picking just one performance from this night was impossible. Each artist brought their A-Game and stuck the landing. Saint Louis favorites all around with a killer lineup top to bottom. Collective Soul played their best set in years in Saint Louis (which is saying something since their shows are typically stellar) and ZZ Top did their usual high-caliber set. Sammy Hagar, Saint Louis’ adopted son, seemed extra ramped up for this show (yes, even more so than usually high-energy Saint Louis gigs). Did this guy really turn 70?? He sure didn’t act like it. In fact, I hope I have that much energy in a couple decades. http://www.midwestrewind.com/2017/10/01/kshe-95-celebrates-50-years-sold-show-sammy-hagar-friends/
Yeah, classic rock rules this chart, but there may be a reason for that. These guys area veterans. And they certainly know how to rock a concert. Just ask 19,000 fans who crammed into the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre that night in June for a sold-out show. Both bands rocked fans with a setlist full of hits, hits and more hits. Throw in a great opening set from Saint Louis favorite Tesla and the only thing missing were a whole bunch of mullets and Aqua Net-fixed hair. Lest you start laughing at my selection of this show, thinking I was stuck in the 80’s, try telling that to the SOLD-OUT crowd of nearly 20,000 old and young alike. I sat close to a kid, no more than 8 years old who was singing along to every single Def Leppard song. And the fact that vocalist Joe Elliott sounded better than he has in years leads me to believe they are not going away soon. (Rumors abound of a Def Leppard/Journey tour this coming summer, that would be killer). http://www.midwestrewind.com/2017/06/25/def-leppard-thrilled-fans-sold-show-saint-louis-thursday/
Sure, there may be only one original member of Foreigner (Mick Jones), but that doesn’t mean the rest of the band are amateurs, or slouches. For a band that has Jeff Pilson (from Dokken) and Kelly Hansen (From Hurricane) spearheading the live shows with mick the results are, as you would expect, superb. Throw in drummer Chris Frazier ( Steve Vai, Eddie Money and Whitesnake) and you have what you need for a Hell of a live show. And in August they delivered with a high energy sing/rock-a-long to a slew of hits. Kelly Hansen is electrifying onstage with his abundant high level of never ending energy. I expect nothing less when they return on July 18. (Tickets are on sale now). http://www.midwestrewind.com/2017/08/20/foreigner-remained-timeless-stellar-show-saint-louis/
Evanescence is one of those bands that has a very unique sound, and very particular fans. But they are also a band, led by the incomparable Amy Lee, who recognizes that to stay relevant in today’s fickle industry you need to not become stale. Lee has marvelously performed a transformation for the group into something I call Nu Symphonic. Their versatility was evident from the get go and Lee’s performance harkened back to legendary opera singers long gone with her haunting vocals bathed with a 28 piece orchestra leaving the audience hanging on every note. It was refreshing and bode well for the future of this band.
Steve Martin/Martin Short
While not technically a concert, which is what I focus on 99% of the time, I had to throw this in somehow. These two comic geniuses were marvelous in a live setting. I have been to many comedy shows and to see these two legends together was phenomenal. Their camaraderie was natural which flowed seamlessly throughout the night. Throw in a great set from Martin’s band (Steve, that is) Steep Canyon Rangers and you had a complete night. And I will say I haven’t quite encountered issues with photographing an event as I had with this. Shooting back by the soundboard using my telephoto lens sure was difficult…considering I was laughing the entire time. You try focusing on one object and keeping steady while you are laughing or giggling the whole show. And the fact they were gracious enough to let us shoot the whole show made it easier to get a shot, instead of a bunch of blurry images. http://www.midwestrewind.com/2017/07/24/steve-martin-martin-short-brought-laugh-filled-performance-fabulous-fox/
What were your top performances/shows from 2017. Comment below and let us know.
Happy New Year! – SD