Another take – Michael Ryan’s top 10 concerts of 2017

By MICHAEL RYAN (Special to Limelight Magazine)

While Limelight Magazine posted it’s top 10 concerts of 2017 last week, we asked one of our readers, Michael Ryan, to offer his 10 top shows as well. Interestingly, our number one show (Roger Waters at TD Garden) was the same. Here’s his list and a short reflection about each concert.

Here’s my Top Ten list of concerts I saw in 2017. The list is obviously subjective. Certainly, seat location matters. The show’s “uniqueness” can also come into play. Both YES and Carl Palmer are always going to be a great shows, but both acts tour almost every year. That’s a good thing, though it does make the gig lose a little luster; while an act that doesn’t tour often (like John McLaughlin) adds a special aspect to the show. And sometimes, it comes down to just how much fun I had (and it doesn’t hurt if the show was free!). And if I saw a band multiple times, only one show gets ‘ranked’. That being said:

10) Matthew Sweet @ The Narrows Center (in Fall River, MA)  /// My first time seeing Matthew Sweet. His CD Girlfriend from the early ’90s is a classic and he played about half dozen songs from it.

9) Keller Williams @ The Wheel House (in Galilee, RI) /// A “surprise” appearance on the list; haven’t seen him since the days I went to hippie jam festivals. He does a lot of live phrase looping with multiple instruments, so he’s like a one-man jam-band. His music is quirky, cerebral, tongue in cheek, and energetic.

8) YES (with Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy & Todd Rundgren) @ Foxwoods Grand Theatre /// YES used to always take the number 1 slot on these lists; but YES isn’t really YES anymore. Steve Howe is still my favorite guitarist. But other than Howe and Alan White on drums (who has lost his “snap” in my opinion), no one else is left from the “classic” YES line up of the 70’s. Carl Palmer opened; but with the bands, his set was limited to just 30 minutes (a great 30 minutes, but kind of a “tease”). Todd Rundgren’s set was disappointing (song selection; he played very little guitar, it was more of a pop-dance set). Still … any night seeing YES is a great night.

YES (PHOTO BY MICHAEL RYAN)

7) Brand X @ The Regent Theatre (in Arlington, MA) /// Brand X was a leader in the jazz-rock fusion movement in the mid to late 70’s. Two sets; roughly two hours of great jams and I won the tickets in a Limelight Magazine/JKB Entertainment Group Facebook contest! Thanks guys!

6) Denny Laine @ The Regent Theatre /// Denny was an original member of The Moody Blues, but he’s known more for joining Paul McCartney after The Beatles broke up and being part of Wings. Most of the show was “Paul – Wings material,” including the entire Band on the Run album. Fun night in a front row seat seeing music that I love!

Denny Laine (PHOTO BY MICHAEL RYAN)

5) Robby Krieger (of The Doors) @ The Bull Run (in Shirley, MA) /// Excellent show! Basically a Door’s greatest hits set list. Front seat at a front center table; had a few “fist bumps” with Robbie after songs .

Robby Krieger (PHOTO BY MICHAEL RYAN)

4) Ann Wilson (of Heart) @ The Park Theatre (in Cranston, RI) /// Awesome show and what I liked most was the set list. Obviously, there were Heart songs (“Barracuda,” “Crazy On You,” “What About Love”) and a few songs from her solo catalogue. But the song selection was mainly covers and some great covers! Three WHO songs; the show started with “The Real Me.” In the second set they played “Love, Reign O’re Me” (another song from Quadrophenia), and later played “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” I don’t recall the entire set list, but the show included “Manic Depression” (Jimi Hendrix), “She Talks to Angels” (The Black Crowes), “One Night” (Elvis Presley), “We Gotta Get Out of This Place” (The Animals), “For What it’s Worth” (Buffalo Springfield), and “I Put a Spell on You” (a song I first heard by Credence Clearwater Revival, but is a blues classic from Screamin’ Jay Hawkins). But the highlight for me was when they played “Your Move” (YES!). It was a long show with two full sets. Won the tickets from B101.

3) Kenny Wayne Shepherd (also Robert Randolph and the Family Band) @ Bold Point Park (Blues & BBQ Festival) /// Gotta LOVE the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band. Kenny is one of my favorite guitarists, a blues-rock guitar master. Nice long two hour set, with three songs for the encore (the last being Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child”). Great seats (5th row), perfect weather for an open air venue with views of Narragansett Bay and the Providence skyline. Kenny was the headline act for this all day event, but having Robert Randolph and the Family Band playing before Kenny was great! My first time seeing his band; real good stuff! He’s a great pedal steel guitarist. The music is diverse, with elements of funk, soul, jam, and blues. The band was real tight.

Kenny Wayne Shepherd (PHOTO BY MICHAEL RYAN)

2) John McLaughlin (with Jimmy Herring) @ The Park Theatre /// Freaking awesome! I’ve never seen John McLaughlin before and when the show was announced, I didn’t even have any of his CDs. But I knew of his reputation, and grabbed tickets the minute they went on sale (front row). John was a pioneer and a leading guitarist in the jazz and jazz-rock fusion movement, is a Grammy award winner, and can typically be found on Rolling Stone or Guitar World magazines’ “top 100 guitarists” lists. If NASA ever decides to do another “greetings from earth” thing on a long range probe and include some music, last night’s show should be included. I mean, the Voyager mission included stuff from Chuck Berry and Beethoven. Any similar mission needs to include John McLaughlin. And maybe one day, eons from now, some other species may find the probe and say “these humans are rad!” and the course of galactic history will be changed. And an incredible opening act with Jimmy Herring and his new band The Invisible Whip. And after each band did a complete set, Jimmy & his band came back out to join John and his band for another full set. Three and a half hours of pure jazz-fusion / jam band bliss!

John McLaughlin (PHOTO BY MICHAEL RYAN)

1) Roger Waters @ The TD Garden (in Boston, MA) /// OMG, great show! GREAT show! I’ve never seen Roger Waters on a solo tour and only saw Pink Floyd once (in the late 70’s). And I haven’t seen a show at TD Garden in years. I’ve been catching concerts at smaller venues and have gotten used to reasonable priced shows where even the last row is a good seat. So, its been a while since I felt the energy of a packed arena with a rock legend. The band was great and Roger’s voice was spot on. Note for note, songs sounded almost exactly like the studio versions (any difference was due to the energy of being ‘live’). The sound, the presentation … everything was “BIG.” And I loved the set list. Offhand, I can’t think of anything I wanted to hear that they didn’t play. Set list included “Breathe,” “Time,” “The Great Gig in the Sky,” “Brain Damage,” “Money,” “Us and Them,” “Another Brick in the Wall,” “Welcome to the Machine,” “Wish You Were Here,” “Dogs,” “Pigs (Three Different Ones),” “Brain Damage,” “Eclipse,” “Mother,” and “Comfortably Numb.” It was another “free show” (94 HJY and good seats too, Loge 2!)

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