2007: Ten Shows That Rocked (And Three That Didn't)

by Vish Iyer

Three That Didn't

1. IAMX (Great Scott, Boston, MA; October 18)

Chris Corner of Sneaker Pimps (aka IAMX) and his band did an excellent job of bringing this cavernous little nightclub to life with an electrifying performance promoting his sophomore effort, The Alternative. Even with just one keyboardist in the band, Corner did a great job of performing a catalog of densely electronic dance tracks, and these rawer, more rock versions never for a moment sounded stale or out-of-place. But the show gets big “no-no” for the set-length, which consisted of more than half of The Alternativ, and only two cuts from the debut record, Kiss & Swallow; and the show – that as long as the set by the opening act -- was over in less than an hour. Such stinginess is inexcusable.

2. The Psychedelic Furs (Avalon,
Boston, MA; July 10)

The members of the Furs are still alive, and they toured the US this year. Although it was great to see these old men play all the Furs classics live, the one thing that ruined the entire concert was the way singer Richard Butler sang them. For most part of the show he sang out-of-tune with the music and was having way too much fun with it. He sounded like a drunk singing bad karaoke, and totally ruined the whole experience.

3. Collective Soul, Live, and Counting Crows (
New Britain Stadium, New Britain, CT; August 18)

This was primarily a Counting Crows concert, with guest stars Collective Soul and Live. After the exciting 50 minute and the hour long sets by Collective Soul and Live, the Counting Crows set was a bit of a disappointment. Firstly, singer Adam Duritz completely butchered the classic “Mr. Jones” by “speaking” the lyrics and not singing them. Adding to the misery, he indulged in too much pointless rambling throughout the show that dampened the intensity, which was only made worse by unnecessarily stretching some songs, ultimately giving a glaringly unfocused performance.

Ten Shows That Rocked

10. Interpol (Agganis Arena,
Boston, MA; September 12)

This band takes eternity to come out on the stage and doesn’t interact with the crowd at all -- but it does put on a fantastic show. Interpol played all the crowd-pleasers that night (including “NYC” and “Obstacle 1,” both of which were missing on the previous show, two nights before in Albany), so no one had anything to complain about. The highlight of the concert was the jam session leading into “PDA,” which closed the show.

9. Sonic Youth (Lupos Heartbreak Hotel, Providence, RI; February 17)

Singer/guitarist Thurston Moore thanked the crowd by dryly saying that the band expected only record-store clerks to show up, but was happy to see a big crowd. The show resembled this humble statement by this great band -- it was all about the brilliant music and not about the great Thurston Moore or the great Kim Gordon playing the music on the stage.

8. Chemical Brothers (Hammerstein Ballroom, New York, NY; September 21)

The band didn’t speak a word (not even a “thank you”) to the crowd and had no singers. The show was an audio-visual feast with a giant screen flashing images and videos that were beautifully choreographed with the music. The most impressive part of the show were the huge mixing consoles that the guys used on the stage, which looked like controls from a futuristic space ship.

7. Blackfield (David Friend Recital Hall, Boston, MA; March 18)

The most beautiful part of the show was the small venue size and the closeness between the band and the audience. It felt more like a family party and not at a concert, with Steven Wilson and Aviv Geffen leisurely interacting with the crowd and experimenting on stage – the band swapped instruments on one song. It was money’s worth to see the opening act alone -- the great Jordan Rudess and his fabulous keyboard. And on top of that Steven Wilson appeared on stage and performed the Porcupine Tree song “Lazarus” with Rudess.

6. Porcupine Tree (The Electric Factory, Philadelphia, PA; May 23)

This one was a part of the first leg of the band’s tour to promote their new record Fear Of A Blank Planet (FOABP), my pick as the album of the year. This show was the same format as the others that the band did during this leg, performing the entire FOABP record with songs from primarily In Absentia and Deadwing. What makes this concert so special is the inclusion of “Mellotron Scratching” from Deadwing in the setlist, which was the only time it was featured in the seven shows I went to this year, and the three last year.

5. Tool (Tweeter Center for the Performing Arts, Mansfield, MA; July 12)

This show was a part of the final leg of the 10,000 Days tour. As expected, this show -- almost ritualistic in nature -- was spectacular and intense. It never ceases to amaze how just the four band members, without any additional musicians, manage to create such a complex sound with such nonchalance.

4. Tori Amos (Palace Theatre, Albany, NY; October 9)

Amos never gets tired. She hardly takes a break and does long shows. She has an amazing band, especially drummer Matt Chamberlain. The way she plays two pianos simultaneously makes the shows twice more exciting.

3. Smashing Pumpkins (Orpheum Theater, Boston, MA; October 15)

The highly anticipated Pumpkins reunion record Zeitgeist was a bit of a letdown, but the accompanying tour was anything but. Even though half of the original lineup was missing, it hardly mattered, because the two irreplaceable members, Billy Corgan and Jimmy Chamberlain could create the old Pumpkins magic on stage in spite of the absence of James Iha and D’Arcy. Corgan and his new band played all the classics to perfection, and ended the set with the truly amazing “Cherub Rock.” One slight disappointment: Corgan did a solo acoustic version of “1979” and “Perfect” instead of with the band, which kind of dampened the spirit of these two uplifting songs.

2. Morrissey (Hammerstein Ballroom, New York, NY; October 30)

Morrissey never does a bad show; he just cancels them. And if he is able to do a show from start to finish, it would be one of the best concerts you’ve ever seen. Morrissey has such a magnetic presence that when he is on stage, he is almost like a God in front of teary-eyed awe-struck believers.

1. Genesis (T D Banknorth Garden, Boston, MA; September 11)

This concert made the anticipation of a reunited Genesis “Best Of” tour and the hefty ticket price all worthwhile. As one would expect, this was a very flamboyant concert, complete with fireworks display, and a meticulous sound and visual production. However, the concert didn’t seem showy; just entertaining. The bad played almost the entire Turn It On Again hits CD, with quite a few additional numbers; the concert was long too, almost three hours. This is easily my pick for the best concert of the year (and it beats The Police reunion concert).

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