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Who has been the greatest live act ever?


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Depends on what qualifies as a "live act." Do you want pyrotechnics or arriving on stage by trapeze or just a concert performance? I've liked the Eagles and Madness. But most touching was Harry Chapin who performed for three and a half solid hours and at the middle intermission, he just sat down on the edge of the stage and fielded questions by anyone and all. Never left the stage. Class act.

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Oh come on Wilf, that faux reggae Message in a Bottle stuff was quite catchy. They are (were) terribly white and middle-class though.

 

Yeah, but I'm talking about the period they were walking around in leather jackets and shades with the peroxide hair pretending to be a punk power trio. Ech.

 

ETA: The pathos of the pose is preserved for posterity in the Old Grey Whistle Test performance where Sting, sweating profusely, has to keep pushing his punky plastic shades back up his nose.

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Oh come on Wilf, that faux reggae Message in a Bottle stuff was quite catchy. They are (were) terribly white and middle-class though.

 

Yeah, but I'm talking about the period they were walking around in leather jackets and shades with the peroxide hair pretending to be a punk power trio. Ech.

 

ETA: The pathos of the pose is preserved for posterity in the Old Grey Whistle Test performance where Sting, sweating profusely, has to keep pushing his punky plastic shades back up his nose.

Ooh, there's a story to that, do you have the OGWT DVD? Something to do with Sting having had an eyeful of something irritating. Might dig it out later, there's good stuff on there.

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Personal:

Patti Smith, The Roundhouse, 1976 (ish) was pretty fucking amazing.

Magazine, Aberdeen Student's Union, 1980 (ish) was much, much better than you could ever imagine from the records. Devoto was (is??) immensely charismatic.

I second the Feelgoods and I saw them a bit late, after Brilleaux stopped standing on his head, so probably past their best.

ETA: New Order were a great live band. I regret never having seen Joy Division but I bet they were too.

 

Recorded:

Van Morrison. I saw him a few times too and he was good, but It's Too Late to Stop Now is one of the great live albums.

Dylan, Free Trade Hall, 1966.

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Personal -

Indeed, Talking Hills at Forest Hills; Elvis Costello at Pier 84 in 1983; Clash at Bonds; the Chills and the Clean, London 1990; Therapy? just about anywhere 1993 though Tijuana rocked hard; Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, 1994.

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i'm sorry, but at the rock end of things no one can touch springsteen and the e street band.

 

I haven't seen them, but I should have thought the Stones at their best could give them a run for their money.

 

Obviously, The Who were good too.

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4 hour sets, manic from the get go. did the stones or the who do those?

 

the maysles' "gimme shelter" does show some of the stones' live power, but there are scenes of ike and tina turner performing as their opening act on the rest of the tour and they blow the stones away. there are scenes where you can see mick watching the footage in the studio, and it is almost as though you can see him taking notes from tina for his own performance.

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I've never seen him, but I've been told that in his day Jerry Lee Lewis really was The Killer.

Curiously, when he first started up in around 1970 Elton John was really quite the rocker, not unlike Mr. Lewis. Then, he went and got all majestic. But then I saw him in the Troubador in SF which was a small room. I think great performances in rock can and do happen in small rooms when everyone in the joint is on their feet and totally energized. It was that way when I saw M.I.A. at the Echoplex. But I wouldn't say she was the greatest act ever. In larger venues, I'd have to say that when the E Streeters were touring behind their first 5 or 6 records, they were intense. The first time I saw Dylan (with the Hawks) part was the music, part was the mystique. The only time I saw Janis she was on acoustic and belting her lungs out on just 3 songs, and she did prove that a woman can be tough. I would guess that Hendrix was pretty amazing, but I've only seen him on film.

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4 hour sets, manic from the get go. did the stones or the who do those?

 

the maysles' "gimme shelter" does show some of the stones' live power, but there are scenes of ike and tina turner performing as their opening act on the rest of the tour and they blow the stones away. there are scenes where you can see mick watching the footage in the studio, and it is almost as though you can see him taking notes from tina for his own performance.

 

Influences are a whole other question. I saw the Stones in '76, and they were pretty amazing. I respect Springsteen's stamina, but I am skeptical about the four hour deal. The Ramones could get it done in thirty-five minutes.

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it's not that the e street band needs 4 hours to get it done. the first 35 minutes of their sets get it done, it's just that they keep going for another 145 to 205 minutes without letting up.

 

one of the best shows i've ever seen was wilco at the el rey in los angeles on the "being there" tour. also, billy bragg with ronnie lane and friends (doing mostly "mermaid avenue" material) at the house of blues.

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