Our writers breakdown their top ten shows of the year.
Thom Jennings– Concert Guru
My top ten list this year makes me feel a bit old. The shows I enjoy more these days are melodic and acoustic, and while I cut my teeth during the arena rock era, it’s hard to find bands that still have that rock attitude.
This list is chronological, ten shows worthy of the list in order of when I saw them.
10. 3 Doors Down Acoustic- Seneca Niagara Events Center (Feb 8)
This show felt real, the band connected with the audience, told wonderful stories, and it increased my respect level for 3DD tenfold. These guys were made to play in this type of setting.
9. Kasim Sulton– Beachland Ballroom, Cleveland Ohio (March 9)
Inasmuch as I love the music of Todd Rundgren I have always been a Utopia fan first-the four piece that featured Sulton. Seeing Kasim solo is always a treat, but on this evening he debuted songs from his solo album “3” in front of about 100 people. It is the closest fans have come to getting new Utopia style music in a long time, and I was thrilled.
8. Todd Rundgren– Hard Rock Rocksino, Northfield, Ohio (March 29)
Todd and company played the night before at the 440 seat Bear’s Den, but in Ohio he is something of a God, and my experience in seeing him well over 100 times now is that Cleveland shows are always special. This was no exception.
7. Jon Anderson solo- Bear’s Den Niagara Falls NY- (April 11)
This was the second time I have seen Anderson solo, and it makes me think two things “Why did Yes let him get away, he sounds amazing?” and “These shows are so wonderful, I hope he never goes back to Yes.”
6. The Goo Goo Dolls Bear’s Den, Niagara Falls NY (April 12)
If I had to pick the best show of 2014, this was it hands down. There are no words I could write that would aptly describe the magical feeling in the room that night, one of the best shows I have ever seen.
5. Rob Thomas solo- Seneca Niagara Events Center (May 10)
This is the second time I have seen Thomas solo, and he did not disappoint. Its perhaps better suited for his voice than a full rock show, and the guy is funny as hell.
4. Eliot Lewis– Sportsmen’s Tavern Monday (June 9)
It’s rare these days that I see a show and leave a big fan, but Eliot Lewis, the current Hall & Oates keyboardist, is really an amazing performer, one of those guys that makes you say “why isn’t he playing larger venues?”
3. Jennifer Nettles– Chautauqua Institution (July 11)
It was a good year in that I was able to see both Nettles and her Sugarland partner Kristian Bush as solo artists this year, and while I miss their combined efforts, both are doing very well, and this solo show featuring songs from “That Girl” was a unique and wonderful event.
2. Sara Bareilles– Artpark (July 16)
Imagine Sara Bareilles and Jennifer Nettles within the same week! I actually saw Bareilles open for Sugarland in Syracuse, and fell in love with her music then, but this was my first chance to see a full Sara Barelles set and it left me wanting more and more. Sara is such an incredible talent, and the only thing that disappointed me was that I could not land an interview.
1. Joe Bonamassa– Rochester Auditorium Theatre (Nov 24)
It’s a giant leap from July to November, and while I cruised over some shows deserving mention like Asia and Sammy Hagar,I would be remiss if I left off Joe, especially since I saw him in Buffalo and Rochester. The great thing about seeing Joe is that he always has something new out, and he is just so damned amazing on guitar you always feel like you are in the presence of greatness.
Dave Leary– Reviewer and Pop Culture expert
Top 10 Concerts of 2014
10. Colbie Caillat– Seneca Niagara Casino (Sept 6)
Caillat’s voice is as warm and welcoming as California sunshine. But surprisingly strong live.
9. Travis Tritt– Seneca Allegany Casino (March 8)
One of the biggest names in country in the ‘90s, Tritt still has a loyal fanbase. And not many can pull off both tender ballads and Southern rockers the way he can.
8. Michael McDonald & Toto– Artpark (Aug 26)
At first glance, an unusual pairing. But these longtime friends provided a memorable mix of classic rock mixed with soul and R and B.
7. Sheila E– Canalside Buffalo (July 31)
The musicianship on display from this trailblazer and her band was quite impressive. A real party and Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown was on hand to declare “Sheila E Day”
6. Survivor– Seneca Allegany Casino (July 5)
Longtime fans were able to hear both Jimi Jamison and Dave Bickler on lead vocals. Jamison’s death just 2 months later gives this show a retroactive poignance.
5. Fitz and the Tantrums– Canalside Buffalo (July 10)
A good time is guaranteed when this California band comes to town. Audience participation is pretty much mandatory.
4. Gary Allan– Seneca Allegany Casino (March 29)
One of modern country’s best singers, Allan puts on a killer show. The genuine article.
3. Heart– Artpark (Aug 5)
Ann and Nancy Wilson have nothing to prove at this point. But thankfully, we can still marvel at Ann’s powerful voice and Nancy’s masterful guitar playing.
2. Rodney Crowell– Sportsmen’s Tavern, Buffalo (May 12)
One of the great singer/songwriters in any genre, Crowell released one of the best albums of the year, Tarpaper Sky. The show was enhanced by the amazing guitar work of Steuart Smith and by the venue itself. The Sportsmen’s is one of the best places to see a show and you can meet the artist afterward.
1. John Fogerty– Erie County Fair (Aug 7)
I was expecting a great one and this legend did not disappoint. Singing and playing like a man half his age, Fogerty performed just about every song you could want to hear. While the whole night was memorable, seeing him jam with his son Shane on “The Old Man on Down the Road” was my favorite moment from any concert I saw this year.
Joseph Suto– Reviewer and chief bottle washer
Top 10 concerts of 2014
10. Tom Keifer– Braun’s Concert Cove- Akron, NY (July 27)
The Cinderella front-man finally released his first solo album and while it took quite some time it was well worth the wait for his fans. Mixing in Cinderella favorites and songs from The Way Life Goes, Keifer put on quite a show as he left it all on the stage in a very memorable performance.
9. Jon Anderson– Bear’s Den- Niagara Falls, NY (April 11)
It’s hard to believe Jon Anderson last played with Yes ten years ago. Jon’s performance was flawless as he told stories and played several instruments in a one man show inside the intimate Bear’s Den. I couldn’t think of a more perfect venue suited for this show.
8. Todd Rundgren– Bear’s Den- Niagara Falls, NY (March 28)
Sometimes an “Unpredictable” evening is in order and there is no one better at serving up an evening than Mr. Rundgen. Dazzling the crowd with some covers alongside selected works of his catalogue, Rundgren gave everyone a night to remember. Where else would one be able to hear an outstanding version of Johnny Preston’s “Running Bear”?
7. Journey– Darien Lake PAC- Darien Center, NY (June 24)
The band that keeps going and going. This band never fails to put on a fabulous show. Singer Arnel Pineda stepped in 2007 and has since recorded two albums as well as played numerous concert tours. The show this past summer at Darien was nothing less than spectacular.
6. Styx– Artpark- Lewiston, NY (Aug 19)
The band tours tirelessly averaging almost one hundred shows per year. With the majority of the shows during the summer months, you can expect the band to be nearby at least once per year. This summer I was one of the lucky ones as I was able to see the band on the Soundtrack Of Summer tour with Don Felder and Foreigner and their Artpark gig. Both shows showed the band at their finest.
5. Goo Goo Dolls– The Bear’s Den- Niagara Falls, NY (April 12)
The intimate setting of the Bear’s Den was the perfect place for the hometown boys to put on their acoustic show. This Goo Goo Dolls show marked the first of three area shows that concluded with a blistering electric set out at Darien in August. Oh that Bear’s Den show, that was one for the ages.
4. Roger Hodgson– Seneca Events Center- Niagara Falls, NY (Nov 7)
How does Roger Hodgson follow up his fabulous Artpark show from two years ago? With another stellar show that took everyone on a fantastic ride as Hodgson mixed in rare solo tune “Had A Dream” alongside lost classics such as “Hide In Your Shell” and “Even In The Quietest Moments”. Before the show many fans were dating themselves by saying when the first time they saw Supertramp was. None of them walked out of the venue without a smile on their face.
3. Aerosmith– DTE Energy Theatre- Clarkson, MI (Sept 9)
After seeing this band perform in a live setting for almost thirty years I can attest that they are like a fine wine that just seems to get better with age. The set seemed to feature gem after gem as they played such fan favorites as “Kings And Queens”, “No More No More” and “Mama Kin”. The latter featured Slash, it don’t get any better than that.
2. Chrissie Hynde– Massey Hall- Toronto, Ontario (Oct 30)
This was the first ever North American Solo tour for the leader of The Pretenders. Hynde delivered the goods as one would expect delving into the Pretenders catalog. Not only did she serve up classic cuts but she also played rarities such as “997” and other nuggets in “Talk Of The Town” as she also played the majority of her debut solo album Stockholm.
1. Tom Petty- Darien Lake PAC- Darien Center, NY (Sept 7)
Seeing Tom Petty in 2010 left me a little disappointed to say the least. It was my first time seeing Petty and not only was I not that thrilled with his Mojo release, the set list was not what I had hoped for. What a difference a few years made as Petty redeemed himself and then some. An ultra rare play of “Two Gunslingers” made the night even more magical.