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Best Live Bands

For many music lovers, summers are the prime time to see a live show. Concerts in the park, festivals, stadium shows, casino concerts, and various other outdoor venues—most have been cancelled this year.

I thought it would be fun to find out what’s the best live show you’ve ever attended. Here’s a list of some of the best live acts according to what I’ve seen and heard, send me yours.


The joke was always that Rush’s fan base was mostly made up of musicians—and all guys. It was that way at the Hemispheres concert I attended in 1978. I went with my bandmates at the time. (After the song Tom Sawyer became a hit, things changed and the band had a much more diverse following.) Rush put on such a great show that night, playing the extremely difficult songs on that album perfectly—something they were known for. Over the years Rush created a semi-elaborate stage set up with videos and visuals. Now that Neil Peart has died, I fear this is one band that won’t be back on the road ever again.

Foo Fighters

Some bands are better live than on radio. The Foo Fighters are awesome in both formats. For me, Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins could be a star in his own right. At the Kennedy Center Honors, when the Foo Fighters performed Rock and Roll in front of Led Zeppelin (and the President) Taylor sang lead—and he nailed it. Hawkins also sings Queen covers, and kills it on drums when they do their rendition of YYZ by Rush. I also love that Dave Grohl invites audience members on stage to play with the band—often young musicians. Lastly, when Grohl fell and broke his leg onstage, he encouraged the band to continue on without him as he was carted off on a stretcher. He came back later and finished the show . . . on crutches and in a cast. Are you kidding me?

Paul McCartney

Don’t hate me for saying this, but I love the band Wings. It was sort of like a continuation of the Beatles. I know, blasphemy. The band were all excellent musicians (we will respectfully exclude Linda McCartney’s keyboards and vocals from that comment). In recent years as a solo act, Paul McCartney is a must see. The bummer is, I missed him when he came to play at Petco Park in San Diego. The people who went said it was amazing.

HONORABLE MENTIONS INCLUDE: Jimmy Buffett, Roger Waters, the Grateful Dead, Bruce Springsteen, the Dave Matthews Band, Prince, Iron Maiden, Eagles, U2, Queen, KISS, Metallica, AC/DC, and The Rolling Stones.

What was the best live show you ever attended (and why)?

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