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Is this the best gig ever?

Monday 1/17/22

Introducing another new series to this journal: Is this the best gig ever?

Which I pose as a rhetorical question, not as an attempt to determine the actual answer. My intention is to focus on remarkable shows that could cause a person--who knows their music and musical history--to ask pose those words to themselves. In the moment of hearing. These are the best of the best gigs.

I begin with the Stone Roses at Glasgow Green on June 9, 1990, with a recently remastered version of the audience tape. The Roses had had what was viewed as their failure at Spike Island the month before. People were wondering, merely on the back of that one gig, which was plagued by poor organization, and bad sound, in part because of swirling winds, if they could still do it live.

As a result, the Roses came out with an energy you'll rarely hear from any concert recording. In the past, I've likened it to Tristan und Isolde from Bayreuth in 1966, with Karl Böhm conducting. You can feel the atmosphere--clearly there's a super-charged energy to the event. Listen to the build-up to the opening riff of "I Wanna Be Adored," and then the crowd's reaction when the riff kicks in.

Ian Brown, though routinely knocked, is one of my personal favorite singers, and he's brilliant on this day.


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