I went to a lot of concerts this year, getting off to a great start by seeing my celebrity crush Neil Young perform live on January 6. He played solo at Carnegie Hall, accompanying himself on eight or so guitars, a banjo, a horde of harmonicas, two pianos and an organ.
The New York Times review of the show included this anecdote:
“Neil Young was just a few bars into an indignant old song at Carnegie Hall on Monday night, chugging a terse intro on an acoustic guitar, when he abruptly threw the emergency brake.
‘Wrong!’ he barked, waving one hand, as if to cut off a rehearsal band. Part of the audience had started clapping to the beat — but not quite on the beat, as Mr. Young complained. His tone was even, his exasperation clear.
‘It’s something that you probably don’t know,’ he said, peering into the house from the stage, ‘but there’s a hell of a distance between you and me.'”
I didn’t catch the moment he stopped the audience from clapping on video but I’ve got everything after that, including all of that “indignant old song” … otherwise known as the classic “Ohio.” I got into a short Twitter tiff with a critic who insisted that the atmosphere became tense — never mind the fact that you hear the audience laughing and commenting favorably in this video.
In March, I went to the first of Gaga’s week of concerts at Roseland, which was the how that famous venue went out in style. It was also Gaga’s 28th birthday, and I had a pretty good view.
It was an abbreviated show, so I hit Madison Square Garden in May to see Gaga’s full ARTPOP Ball.
I do love female pop stars, so, in April, MrB and I joined many 13- to 15-year-old girls at Barclays Center in Brooklyn to see Miley Cyrus.
I enjoyed seeing how right on my 2013 Huffington Post story about Miley’s career was. Like I said then, Miley didn’t ruin her career with her controversial MTV Video Music Awards twerking performance — she strengthened it.
The young girls at the Miley show looked mature compared to the kids I saw at Katy Perry’s Barclays show in July — some of those fans were so little they watched the performance from their mommies’ arms!
In June I saw Ringo Starr at the Beacon Theatre. That was my fourth time seeing Ringo, though that’s over a period of 10 years, not all in 2014!
Rather than expressing my extreme Beatles love by stalking Ringo on tour, I stalked his childhood by visiting Liverpool in July. That was a trip I dreamed of making since 1980! After Liverpool, MrB and I went to London, where I fulfilled another longheld dream by attending a concert at Wembley. Eminem was the first rapper to headline Wembley and, while I was thrilled to be there for that, I was farther away from the stage than I like to be.
To make up for that, when Eminem did The Monster mini-tour with Rihanna in the U.S. in August, I saw him twice. I got good seats and took MrB to the first show at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, but I outdid myself for the second MetLife show by getting general admission tickets and making my way to the second row.
That night I decided that, from now on, anytime I can be in the front row, I have to do it. Waiting eight or 10 or 12 hours is worth it!
It’s a whole different show when you’re that close! You feel really involved with the artist in a way that’s just not possible otherwise.
I got additional inspiration for getting up close and personal at shows thanks to my new friend Jessie, whom I met while waiting for Eminem and Rihanna. Jessie is devoted to live music and is a general-admission/front-row expert. Now I don’t have to worry about coercing one of my less-than-fanatical friends or sister into toughing out a long wait for a concert with me, because if Jessie doesn’t already have tickets to a show I’m going to, she’s happy to come along. (MrB will happily see Miley and Eminem with me but he draws the line at standing a whole day!)
I met up with Jessie a month later to go to the huge Global Citizen Festival in Central Park. (Shout out again to my Twitter friend John Laurente for giving me those tickets!) Thanks to Jessie running like the wind down the entire length of the Great Lawn, I ended up in the second row of a 60,000-person audience. Seeing Sting join Gwen Stefani and No Doubt on stage was amazing …
… but when Beyonce came out on stage to join her headlining hubby Jay Z at the end of the night, the whole place went crazy.
Since then, Jessie and I have been front row for FKA twigs …
… PRhyme …
… and, most recently, Yelawolf and Rittz.
As a big bonus, my gorgeous rapper friend Gangsta Boo brought us backstage for the Run the Jewels concert. Run the Jewels 2 is on practically everyone’s best-album list this year, and the show was wild.
I saw Fleetwood Mac in October, from semi-nosebleed seats that didn’t meet my new standards for concert-going, so I’m going back to see them again in January.
Shortly before that concert, I went to an intimate performance at the Standard Hotel by gorgeous singer Sky Heavens.
I spent Halloween with my designing friend Stacy Lomman and the Damned.
And somehow, I never got around to posting anything about Lorde’s September concert at the United Palace Theatre.
I wasn’t the biggest Lorde fan but I thought she’d be interesting to see and she was. I was also amused by her fans, who were like Miley Cyrus’s fans in age and enthusiasm and shrieking abilities, just with goth outfits.
Lorde really knows how to work that mass of curly hair on stage and her dance movements had a little bit of a Siouxsie-and-the-Banshees-meets-Kate-Bush vibe. Speaking of Kate Bush, she was my only concert failure this year. In 1978, when Bush was just 19, the singer/songwriter became the first woman to have a #1 U.K. single with a self-written song. She did her only tour in 1979. In the ’80s, I obsessively listened to her spooky soprano. This year she made a big comeback with 22 shows in London that sold out in 15 minutes. I was due to be visiting Paris in September, while the shows were going on, and was determined to get a ticket and pop across the Channel to catch Kate. But those tickets couldn’t be had for any amount of money. Alas!
As for 2015? Jessie and I are talking about Coachella.