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Three outstanding rock and roll shows from this date in history


December 7 has been an excellent day for live rock and roll. I like Christmastime gigs--bands are often in ebullient spirits, and so are crowds. Things get warm and festal. There's a feeling of generosity and gratitude.

On December 7, 1963, the Beatles--who had conquered Britain, with America still being a couple months away--played the Empire Theatre in their hometown of Liverpool. All of the Beatles had attended various rock and roll shows here over the years. As with the Get Back series, they reminisce about their past--they already are reminiscing, you could say. Gigs at the Cavern weren't so far back in the past. It was also the rare gig--so you know it was special to them--where they played both "Money" and "Twist and Shout," something they didn't normally do because of the strain on Lennon's voice.

Then on this day fifty years ago, the Grateful Dead played the Felt Forum in NYC, complete with a cover of Chuck Berry's "Run Rudolph Run." The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and the Dead were, in my view, Chuck Berry's greatest interpreters. That sounds surprising, does it not? For the Beatles, you have to go to the BBC sessions to make the full case. The Dead would smoke on "Promised Land" and "Johnny B. Goode," with Bob Weir singing lead on both, as he does on the Christmas tune.

Finally, we have the Stone Roses in December 1995. They were a diminished band--Reni, their drummer, was gone, and he's one of the half dozen or so best drummers in rock history. Tough to come back from that. There were a lot of ropey Roses gigs in 1995, but they got it together big time for their end-of-the-year English dates, like this one from Leicester.

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