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Thread: Your Most Unexpectedly Great Concerts

  1. #1

    Your Most Unexpectedly Great Concerts

    I know we have a thread on your worst concerts, but let's talk here about those concerts you went to with little expectation and which turned out to be far better than you ever expected. I will go first:

    1. My son asked me to take him to see a punk concert, with The Living End opening for Green Day. Those 2 bands just killed it, and I give them both kudos for really respecting their fans and putting on one hell of a show. I kind of felt the energy I used to when I was seeing bands like the MC5 way back in the day.

    2. This is also listed on my worst concert experiences, but let me flip it. I had tickets to see Flash, with Blue Oyster Cult opening. Flash just sucked, and acted like they did not care to be there, but BOC absolutely nailed it- high energy, top-notch songs, early in their career.

    3. Finally, this is from the greatest concert I ever went to, but not for the headliner. I saw Jimi Hendrix, with 3 other opening bands. A local band, TIME (Trust in Men Everywhere), opened, followed by the MC5, and then this British band called Soft Machine. I LOVED Soft Machine, even as I also loved the Hendrix show- and now more than 50 years later I still listen to them regularly.
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  2. #2
    Most immediate one that springs to mind is Zeal & Ardor, in Silver Spring MD, opening for Deafheaven. I was there for the latter and all I knew of Z&A was "black metal combined with African American spirituals." Having seen some really awful/awkward metal bands doing cultural appropriation nonsense, I was ready to cringe. First song, "eh, interesting." Second song, "this isn't bad at all actually," by middle of the set OMG I MUST OWN EVERYTHING THEY HAVE RELEASED EVER. Incredible band, absolutely the highest recommendation for anyone who has the opportunity to see them.

    Also saw Death Cab for Cutie with Explosions in the Sky a few years ago with a friend. I was there mainly for the latter but found them surprisingly unconvincing live. But Death Cab, whom I had regarded pretty dismissively in the past, absolutely delivered a fantastic set. Not going to say I'm a rabid fan now but they absolutely reversed my negative impressions of them.
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  3. #3
    Worth saying, tried to narrow it down to just cases where I had a negative opinion going in, rather than no opinion at all. There are a ton of openers for known bands who I knew nothing about prior to the show, but ended up making a bigger bang than even some of the headliners.
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    Member Lopez's Avatar
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    I knew very little about Emerson, Lake & Palmer as a band when they came to Providence in May 1971, though I had all the Nice and Crimson albums up until then, so I expected good music. But I didn't expect the mayhem of "Rondo." Totally knocked out by the show.

    Others that I knew next to nothing about and absolutely floored me were Jackson Brown (with David Lindley) in mid-1973 with Bruce Springsteen as the opener. Both were killer.

    I was very much surprised how great the Byrds were in early 1970. I expected a laid-back excursion through folk-rock with a little space-rock thrown in. The extended "Eight Miles High" jam and the majesty of Clarence White were totally unexpected and had me talking about the show for days.
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    Outraged bystander markwoll's Avatar
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    Emmylou Harris at Wolf Trap 5/31/96. She had released Wrecking Ball, which was a significant departure from her previous material.
    We had seen her several times with her country/bluegrass band ( The Nash Ramblers ), but this was so different. bass, drum, and effects laden guitar,mando-guitar , and her wonderful voice.
    Fantastic stripped down shimmering sound. Spine tingling good.
    I think it alienated some of the long time fans, but they came around.
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    Member Lopez's Avatar
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    Just remembered two shows that I kicked and screamed not to go, but did it for my mom and my wife, respectively: Engelbert Humperdinck in Las Vegas in 1977 and Don Ho in Saugus, Massachusetts, in 1980 or so. Neither were my style, but both were surprisingly great showmen. At both shows, I was the youngest person by decades.
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  7. #7
    I saw Jefferson Starship during the Red Octopus tour and they were outstanding. The opening act were Sea Level. They were an instrumental band that were a bit Jazzy and very creative. I couldn't believe how incredibly talented they were. They were so tight as a unit and sounded really polished. At the time I had no idea who they were and I was blown away. They had a true progressive edge to their style.

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    I'm here for the moosic NogbadTheBad's Avatar
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    I generally don't go to see headliners who I don't know much about so the chance of surprises there are limited.

    The biggest surprise from a support band was probably Bent Knee. I went to see Mike Keneally & they were supporting just after the release of Shiny Eyed Babies. I had never heard of them, they blew me away and I've seen them 10+ times since then.

    Miriodor supported Univers Zero when they played the French Embassy in Washington DC, I didn't know them at all, they were wonderful & I've bought pretty much everything they've released and seen them a couple of more times.

    Happened loads of times at festivals with bands I've never heard of but that's probably not what's being asked for.
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    Member Zeuhlmate's Avatar
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    Roskilde Festival 1974 - Supersister

    I never heard of them, but it was very interesting, and I remember I thought of Soft Machine. The bass player had a Les Paul bass, quite unusual https://reverb.com/p/gibson-les-paul...bass-1971-1979

    The only other band I remember from that festival was Status Quo and that was definetely not barking up my tree. The basicly had two songs, a slow and a faster, and they played them for hours.

    Land og Folk Festival 1979 - Þursaflokkur
    At a 3 day free open communist festival - and suddenly there was this awesome band playing something not related to politics and the formulaic folkrock. I went back the day after and heard them again!
    Last edited by Zeuhlmate; 01-06-2022 at 09:52 AM.

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    Back in the late 70's i had seen the sax/flute player Oliver Lake's quartet several times.Lake's quartet at that time featured guitarist Michael Gregory Jackson and doublebass player Fred Hopkins.

    A concert by this quartet was advertised at a small performance space in Soho(if memory serves).When i got to the venue a poster advised us that Oliver Lake would be performing solo, no quartet.

    I was disappointed but i decided to see the music.

    It was magical.Lake came out with his alto sax and flute, bells on his ankles.He played, he sang,he got the audience involved in the music.We all walked out into the Soho night totally entranced by what we just saw/heard.

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    Don't let your meatloaf! Paulie's Avatar
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    Both by way of pleasing girlfriends du jour:

    Crash Test Dummies at the Sting in CT. Went in cold. Phenomenal!

    Bon Jovi at Hartford Civic Center in CT. GF invited me to her company's sky-box. I was blown away at how much I enjoyed it! The buffet and free flowing booze did not hurt.
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    Member Steve F.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by battema View Post
    There are a ton of openers for known bands who I knew nothing about prior to the show, but ended up making a bigger bang than even some of the headliners.
    This x 10 for me.
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    Member Camelogue's Avatar
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    Pre Steve Perry Journey opening for ELO

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    Member Camelogue's Avatar
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    Also took my wife to see Gloria Estefan.

    Good music and showmanship.

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    Parrots ripped my flesh Dave (in MA)'s Avatar
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    Accustomed to hating opening acts, I was very pleasantly surprised to enjoy MR Wizard opening for Holdsworth back in '83:
    https://www.truthinshredding.com/201...to-legend.html

    Not sure they ever managed to release anything.

    A few years ago I went to the Anderson/Ponty appearance around here pretty much expecting a cringefest but I never miss the chance to see Ponty, and I thought it was great.

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    My best unexpected concert without a doubt was Steve Miller some decades ago. Not a huge fan at the time so I didn't know most of his songs. Fly Like an Eagle and a couple of radio hits, was all I knew. Well, he put on a great show, he has a bunch of songs that I knew but didn't know were his, and the production was very good.

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    Member Just Eric's Avatar
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    1991 - Barry Manilow - Amazing showman singing songs everyone knows, highly interactive, loved by fans, and present for his audience.
    1983 - Keith Jarrett - Zellerbach Hall UC Berkeley you could hear a pin drop during the quarter not rests
    1980ish - Kansas Audio-Visions tour at the SF Cow Palace. Alvin Lee was the opener and the show was 3+ hours of sing-along music greatness
    1980ish? - Patrick Moraz/Bill Bruford Flags tour. Small venue intimate setting that felt like a living room show. They bantered easily, played with each other and the audience.
    2005 - Present and The Red Masque in a small town community center. Small room with 25 or so people in folding chairs watching fantastic music. Bonus points for my first NF weekend and meeting many awesome PE'ers
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    My wife wanted to see Phillip Phillips who was co headlining with Matt Nathanson. I wasn’t expecting much but Matt Nathanson was engaging, funny, entertaining, all that. I wouldn’t listen to a CD but he put on a great show.
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  19. #19
    Gerard at the Progfest 99 pre-show. I was somewhat familiar with a little of their studio output but was not very impressed. The live show was a different story; great musicianship, great musicianship, and a drummer (Masuhiro Goto) who was an absolute MONSTER!
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    I saw PFM at the Spectrum in Philadelphia during the 70s. I believe Ten Years After were the headliners. I had absolutely no idea who PFM were or anything about their style. I was completely blown away. They were all skilled players and I was amazed by their talent. My memory is a little cloudy about the year, but it had to be 74' or after Ten Years After released Positive Vibrations and did one more tour before disbanding.

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    Member Bake 2's Avatar
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    Went to see Medeski Martin & Wood shortly after the Shack Man release and thought it was going to suck to sit through the opener...(wouldn't any band w/ a name like Critter's Buggin' have to be pure dogshit?). Auditory hallucinations were popping out everywhere, got hit w/ an astoundingly imaginative use of loops and brilliant electric sax work. Everyone else in the group also seemed to be having an exceptionally good night, maybe as brain melting as catching the Mwandishi band on a good night. MM&W may have also been in top form, but we had to leave about 5 minutes into their set to avoid completely losing the narcotic effects of the opening performance.

  22. #22
    Member Lopez's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Just Eric View Post
    1980ish? - Patrick Moraz/Bill Bruford Flags tour. Small venue intimate setting that felt like a living room show. They bantered easily, played with each other and the audience.
    I am still kicking myself for not seeing their stop in Boston. I was in grad school at Northeastern U. at the time. Patrick and Bill were playing at a tiny jazz club called Michael's a stone's throw from the school. I even walked by the place the night of the show. Beats me why I didn't take a left and gone in.

    Another show that absolutely knocked me out was Rufus Harley at a coffee shop on the Villanova campus in 1974. I knew little about Harley other than he was a jazz musician who played bagpipes. He was most friendly to the 40 or so people who attended. He explained how the pipes worked and even took them apart to show us what each piece did. He was also a killer tenor sax player. I have his business card somewhere. It said "Rufus Harley, Master Musician" and had a little picture of the pipes on it along with the usual contact info. He did not wear the kilt (he was dressed all in white) he wore as a novelty act on the Arsenio Hall show years later. I felt bad as I thought Hall and Rufus himself were exploiting him. I 'spose a paycheck's a paycheck.
    Last edited by Lopez; 01-06-2022 at 07:09 PM.
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    Member Digital_Man's Avatar
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    I can't think of that many. One that pops in my head was when I saw Television in late 2014. I didn't know much about them and didn't know what to expect but they were great. One interesting thing about it is that it was the only time I ever saw a spoken word performance as an opening act(or at all). I don't remember much about the guy but it was interesting to see nonetheless. I suppose this would be common for punk shows. I personally don't really consider Television to be punk (especially not based on what I saw) but I know many do.
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    1979, Marshall Tucker at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds. I really only knew 2 songs maybe 3 from radio play... they were promoting their new LP Running Like the Wind which I not heard anything from. They really blew me away and converted me to a life long fan. To this day I love that LP and love their back catalogue as well. They are my favorite southern rock band. Doug Gray really had some pipes. A link to the title track... hopefully it works, I've never tried to add one before!

    www.youtube.com:watch?v=g3jYYUqCh6k

  25. #25
    Jazzbo manqué Mister Triscuits's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Just Eric View Post
    1980ish? - Patrick Moraz/Bill Bruford Flags tour. Small venue intimate setting that felt like a living room show. They bantered easily, played with each other and the audience.
    Was that with Moraz playing a real piano? When I saw them he had the Kurzweil 250.
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