2015 Year In Review
Top 10 Concerts of the Year
By: Joseph Suto and Dave Leary
2015 was a year that will go down in the books as one of the best concert years of our time. We received visits from many who had not been to town in years as well as one guy who had never played Buffalo until this year.
Unfortunately were unable to attend the Rolling Stones concert out at the Ralph or surely that would of made our list. Drum roll please as Joseph Suto and Dave Leary present their top ten shows from 2015. Be on the lookout for Thom Jennings list very soon.
Joseph Suto’s Top Ten
10. Garth Brooks– First Niagara Center, Buffalo, NY (March 5)
Garth Brooks returned to Buffalo for the first time in seventeen years as he took a retirement from touring. This was the first of six shows he would perform over four days. Brooks put on a dazzling show and lived up to the hype.
9. The Doobie Brothers– Artpark, Lewiston, NY (August 25)
With Van Halen playing another nearby venue the same night, many of the Artpark regulars were missing in action. What a shame as they missed a top of the line Doobie Brothers show, one that many who attended will never forget. I will never forgot “Listen To The Music” and with how much conviction the band played with.
8. Paul Rodgers– Avalon Theatre, Fallsview Casino, Niagara Falls, ONT (August 28)
Bad Company singer Paul Rodgers played a solo show that will be remembered. Not only did he play the usual Bad Company standards but he also broke out a pair of Firm tunes that hadn’t been played in a while.
7. Europe– Bear’s Den, Niagara Falls, NY (May 1)
The show marked Europe’s first ever visit to western New York. The Bear’s Den proved to be the perfect choice venue as Joey Tempest and gang spoiled us by ripping through gems as “Rock The Night” and of course signature song “The Final Countdown”. No matter how many times you may have heard the latter, it sounded so majestic played in a live setting.
6. Collective Soul– Erie County Fair Grandstand, Hamburg, NY (August 12)
The only band on the list that did not headline. They were paired up with 3 Doors Down who were put in the dubious position of trying to top the bar set by Ed Roland and his gang. With a new release pending Collective Soul gave a dose of new mixed in with several classics from their vast catalog.
5. Neil Diamond– First Niagara Center, Buffalo, NY (March 31)
It had been some ten years since Neil Diamond last played Buffalo. From opening number “I’m A Believer” to the final song “Heartlight” Diamond delivered a strong set that is almost unheard of at his age. Highlights included “Desiree”, “Shilo” and a powerful “I Am… I Said”. An overall enjoyable evening from one of the greatest performers ever.
4. The Eagles– First Niagara Center, Buffalo, NY (July 18)
The Eagles had not been to town since 2003. This time around the show was divided into two sets and featured the History of the Eagles tour. Original member Bernie Leadon joined the band during the first set and came back for the encore. The high points of the show were plenty perhaps none as bright as “New Kid In Town”. Joe Walsh seemed to everywhere during the second set as his songs were featured throughout. “In The City”, Life’s Been Good” and “Rocky Mountain Way” all with Walsh on vocals gave the concert that added spark to help put it over the top.
3. J Geils Band– Artpark, Lewiston, NY (September 8)
I could not think of any other band to close out the Artpark 2015 season. It was a house party to say the least as Peter Wolf and Company delivered a gem to cap out the summer concert season. The band played songs from all era’s of their career as they showed everyone what they were all about.
2. Madonna– Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ONT (October 5)
She may have went on late but it was well worth the wait. Madonna delivered a set that heavily featured songs from her latest Rebel Heart. Until you have seen the “Queen of Pop” live in concert, reserve judgement from what you may have heard about her concerts. We had the chance to catch her first night of two in Toronto and were in awe of how well the show is put together. No doubt the best part of the night was when she delved into songs such as “Dress You Up”, “True Blue” and “La Isla Bonita”. Topping it all off with “Material Girl” was the icing on the cake. Some songs she hadn’t played live since the 1980s. The material girl was in great form and everyone knew who that girl was.
1. Paul McCartney– First Niagara Center, Buffalo, NY (October 18)
Sir Paul McCartney made his first ever trip to Buffalo and lived up to all the hype. This was the hottest and hardest ticket to get in town in quite a number of years. McCartney could of probably played 5 shows and they all would have sold out. There were many highlights. Who could forget that poignant moment when he introduced “Maybe I’m Amazed”? I would be remiss not to mention “Live and Let Die” and the stellar “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five” both of which were performed with high octane. The topper came when the crowd sang the “Na-na-na na’s” it was a goosebump moment to say the least as you could not help but feel emotional during it. McCartney did say see you next time. Hopefully it will be sooner rather than later.
Dave Leary’s Top Ten
This year I was able to see 14 live shows. I got to cross some artists off my “bucket list”. Unfortunately, the Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney were not among them. However, I saw some pretty amazing shows, some of which may be in my all-time top 10. That list would be a huge undertaking though. For now then, here are my top 10 shows of 2015.
10. Kacey Musgraves– Town Ballroom, Buffalo, NY (March 28)
Despite awards and critical acclaim, you won’t really find Musgraves on country radio because she’s a woman and she makes music that’s actually country. No matter, she’s a great songwriter, fine singer and engaging performer.
9. Buddy Guy– UB Center for the Arts, Amherst, NY (April 22)
He may be almost 80, but the legend showed why he is one of the most influential guitarists ever. He also went into the crowd during one song while still playing. His opening act, Quinn Sullivan, is a 16 year old guitar prodigy and an artist to watch.
8. Brandon Flowers– House of Blues, Cleveland, OH (July 31)
I’ve never seen The Killers live, so when I found out their frontman was coming to Cleveland, I knew I had to make the trip. Flowers has undeniable charisma and really connects with his audience. This was my first time at the House of Blues and it’s a good venue, similar to Town Ballroom.
7. Taylor Swift– Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH (June 3)
For sheer spectacle, nothing topped this one. The biggest tour of the year. Yet despite the impressive choreography, costume changes and sets, the best moments were Swift alone with just her guitar or piano showing her undeniable talent.
6. The Eagles– First Niagara Center, Buffalo, NY (July 18)
I also saw former Eagles guitarist Don Felder this year. While it was a very good show as well, I had to put this one on the list. The setlist did not disappoint, and those harmonies still sound incredible. The second half was basically the Joe Walsh show and it rocked. Don Henley sounded great too (and he released an excellent album this year called Cass County)
5. John Mellencamp– Shea’s Performing Arts Center, Buffalo, NY (May 9)
A lot of people seemed disappointed by his performance in 2014 at Seneca Niagara Casino. I wasn’t at that show but this one really hit the mark for me. Mellencamp seemed in good spirits and his band was terrific. A nice mix of old and new songs. I was happy to see the opening act (Carlene Carter) as well.
4. Dwight Yoakam– Seneca Allegany Casino, Salamanca, NY (June 6)
Yoakam released a stellar album this year called Second Hand Heart. Touring in support of that, he and his band simply tore it up that night. My favorite thing about Yoakam is how he mixes traditional country with rock. He can rock with anybody and this show proved it. He hadn’t played in the area since 2002. Hope it’s not that long till his next visit.
3. Alabama Shakes– Artpark Mainstage Theater, Lewiston, NY (Sept. 22)
A stirring show in a perfect venue. Brittany Howard and her bandmates showed why they are one of the most talked about bands to come around in a long time. And Howard is a once in a generation type singer.
2. Garth Brooks (w/Trisha Yearwood)– First Niagara Center, Buffalo, NY (March 5 and 7)
Brooks played 6 shows over 4 nights, his first visit to Buffalo since 1998. I attended the first and fifth shows. I thought the excitement and noise level of the crowd at the first show couldn’t be matched but I was wrong. This may have been the loudest I’ve ever heard the arena for any event, even Sabres playoff games. Brooks still puts on one of the best shows you’ll ever see.
1. Stevie Wonder– First Niagara Center, Buffalo, NY (Nov. 19)
Performing for well over 3 hours with a short intermission, Stevie and his band played the Songs in the Key of Life album in its entirety. Anyone disappointed that it wasn’t just a greatest hits show should’ve read their ticket. It could’ve flowed a bit better but the musicianship and many memorable moments (including Stevie playing The Star Spangled Banner on harmonica) made this one of my top 10 shows of all time. He sounded incredible. And his message of positivity and loving each other despite our differences is more important than ever.
Stay tuned for our year in review special as well as Thom Jennings and his take on 2015.