The Top 10 Concerts I Wish I Had Attended

By Ralph Greco, Jr.

Most forget the typical listing of Monterey Pop or Woodstock, that fateful last show of Buddy Holly or the Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl, below is a list of some of the shows that I would have loved to have made, in my lifetime (though in a few case I was a bit young really to have attended even if I could have). Again, as is always true of these lists my best ofs won’t be yours and this is by far not a complete list (nor are they in order of importance). If anything I hope this prompts you to consider a few of The Top 10 Concerts I Wish I Had Attended…

1) Altamont (1969) Like I mentioned above, Woodstock just seemed too cliché and to tell you the truth from what I have seen of those three days in NY state, I think California’s answer with the Rolling Stones headlining was the better show…it certainly was the most dangerous. While I detest the violence that occurred at Altamont, Marty Balin of “Jefferson Airplane” getting punched and the horrendous stabbing death of Meredith Hunter by the Hell’s Angles, I do like how this concert put an end to hippie idealism for the approaching 70s. A darker musical night I’m not sure these shores have ever seen.

2) Isle of Wight (1970). If you were with “Spinal Tap” you’d refer to it as the “Isle of Lucy”). The first one, where Joni Mitchell was nearly booed off stage, Kris Kristofferson played maybe what is the best version of “Me And Bobby McGee,” and Emerson, Lake and Palmer made their big time debut (firing off two cannons no less). Imagine having hit Altamont and Wight all within a year of each other…wow!

3) Tullavision (1976 - Shea Stadium) With warm-up artists Rory Gallagher and Robin Trower respectfully, Jethro Tull headlined this Friday night in all their resplendent pastel-frocked finery. With a very early use of enormous video screens (mostly focused on a preening and mugging Ian Anderson) the band performed known ‘hits’ as well as new songs for the 55,000 gathered on that summer New York evening.

4 & 5) Pink Floyd and Emerson, Lake and Palmer (1977 - Madison Square Garden, NYC) Occurring at my most favorite arena to see shows, this summer 30 years ago saw these two powerhouses perform a multitude of dates each. Pink Floyd was supporting Animals; ELP was touring with a let's-declare-bankruptcy orchestra for Works, Volume 1.

6) Meat Loaf (CBS Record Convention - New Orleans) By now the big man’s story has been told countless times, but nobody in the industry wanted to touch Meat’s first Bat Out Of Hell, let alone sell the album. Meat Loaf had a lot to prove to this jaded audience of industry insiders but the legend that has grown-up around this show seems worthy of me wanting to be there. Virtually unknown and unwanted Meat Loaf and his band set the room ablaze this night, earning him not only the enthusiasm of these people who would soon go out to sell his album but also an unprecedented standing ovation.

7) Genesis (1974 – Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles) During the madness of The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway shows, this last tour with Peter Gabriel featured the band with their most ambitious stage theatrics to date. I know Lamb has been lambasted by critics and fans alike, and it is not my favorite Genesis album by a long shot, but the bootlegged clips I have seen from this show solidify for me the fact that Gabriel was (and still is) one of the best front men in rock and roll history.

8) Queen (1974 - Rainbow Theater, London). This amazing band on the Sheer Heart Attack Tour. I was lucky to see Queen (the real band with Freddy Mercury) and though they were great, I think seeing them in the mid 70s, in London of all places, would have been amazing. Most people turn to the Live Aid clip of Queen, which I admit is pretty amazing stuff, but to have seen the four ‘boys’ so young, with flowing tresses and flowing blouses, would have made my decade to be sure!

9) Elton John (1970 – Troubadour, Los Angeles) Celebrated on Elton’s 11/17/70 CD (from a concert recorded at a show in New York later in the tour), this show at the famous, now extinct, LA nightclub was Elton’s first ever show in America. This legendary concert saw Elton introduced by Neil Diamond and was witnessed by almost anybody who was anybody in the music bizz at the time. If you happen to listen to 11/17/70 you can hear just what those early shows must have been like…and why I wish I had been there. The band consisting of just Elton, Dee Murray on bass and Nigel Olsen on drums, the trio slams into the beginning of the 70s marking the jumping off point for what would be Elton’s reign over hit radio for the next two decades.

10) Grateful Dead (1978 - Giza Sound and Light Theatre, Cairo Egypt) In this case, it really is about ‘location, location, location’... You can’t beat ‘the Dead’ for out-there, mind-blowing concepts, and playing amongst the great pyramids is about as out there as it gets. I’m not even a Dead fan but man how I wished I could have been out there digging the music and vibes, in such an unreal setting.

As I said, this list is in no way complete. I didn’t mention the concerts that spawned hit live albums; Frampton and Lynyrd Skynyrd come to mind, so there are plenty I’d add to this list. I just had 10 I wanted to get off my chest, concerts I dream about when I bemoan (as I often do) the price of shows nowadays and how most of the bands I ever wanted to see I have already seen. If you saw any of the above, keep it to yourself, OK? I would be way too envious to hear about it!

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