As has been a tradition for my year-end music columns, here are my ten most memorable shows of 2015, presented chronologically starting with the oldest to the newest. I learned long ago that the mind plays tricks when it comes to remembering a whole year, so here they are.
Honeymoon Suite– Bear’s Den (February 20, 2015)
I have been a huge fan of this band for many years but never had an opportunity to catch them live until this past year. My fear was that HMS would be a shadow of their former selves, but my fears were not realized, instead they were outstanding, and played with a lot of conviction.
Garth Brooks with Trisha Yearwood– First Niagara Center (March 7, 2015)
Is it possible to take a huge break in touring and come back and make it seem like you have never stopped? Well Brooks answered that question, he is one of the greatest live performers of this generation and he earned that distinction by giving 100% at every show. Let’s hope he continues touring for many more years.
In This Moment– Rapids Theatre (May 15, 2015)
Was not a huge fan of this band and only went to the show when my niece told me she was a huge fan. Not only did I love the theatrics, the band allowed photographers to shoot the whole show instead of the traditional three songs no flash rule. One of the best visual shows I have seen since The Tubes in the 1980s.
Peter Frampton and Cheap Trick– Artpark (June 23, 2015)
Not since the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup has there been a better combination of items. What made this show work is the fact that both artists made it big with live albums, and this you had a night with co-headliners instead of an opener followed by a headliner. Both sets were solid and only served to solidify these two as great live acts with incredible longevity. Now that Cheap Trick is in the hall it’s time to think about getting Frampton in there as well!
The Doobie Brothers– Artpark (August 25, 2015)
If I had never seen The Doobie Brothers before I may not have realized just how on fire they were at Artpark. Over the years they have been an excellent live band, but as the years have progressed they just seem to get significantly better. I can honestly say that I was shocked at how amazing this show was, and the crowd responded in kind.
Shania Twain First Niagara Center (October 3, 2015)
Farewell tour? Say it isn’t so Shania! There are few female performers that have the stage presence of Shania, and the show was the perfect balance of pyrotechnics and quiet moments. Twain has overcome many obstacles in her life, but one would never have guessed that if they saw her at this show! Let’s hope she changes her mind and gives us some new music and another tour.
Paul McCartney– First Niagara Center (October 22, 2015)
It’s hard to believe that a performer that has nothing left to prove will still outperform just about every touring artist in the world. Paul plays longer, better, and still manages to sneak in new material a log with fan favorites. There artists that mail in an hour and a half set filled with retreads should attend a Sir Paul show to see how it’s done. \
Dead & Company– First Niagara Center (November 11, 2015)
After pulling up some of the early shows on YouTube I was not quite sure what to expect from the show, but I was pleasantly surprised. There will never be another Jerry Garcia, but John Mayer certainly did a loving tribute to the late guitarist and while it would have been better if Phil Lesh were involved, this show turned out to be a great night of music worthy of The Dead’s legagy.
Steve Hackett– Riviera Theatre (December 3, 2015)
Combining Genesis and solo material, Hackett put on a clinic for guitarists and represented everything that made progressive rock so popular in its heyday. Too many people found Genesis after Hackett’s departure and forget the profound influence he had on the band’s sound in later years.
Todd Rundgren- Riviera Theatre (December 6, 2015)
Todd returned back to his classic era for this show. His guitar playing and soulful vocal stylings were on full display for a sold out house. Todd’s grueling touring schedule has not diminished his ability to put on a great show, if anything he seems reenergized these days.
For more on Thom Jennings catch his column in the Niagara Gazette