The 3 Best Concerts I’ve Been To

Author: Claire Greene, Entertainment

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I am a certified concert addict. I have a problem and I am going to be upfront about it. In 2014 alone I went to seven concerts. Any extra money that I have goes to seeing various artists play live. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Nothing is better than seeing someone do what they love to do, entertaining people and creating something beautiful.

Ever since I saw the Spice Girls at the Meadows Music Center when I was nine years old, I was a groupie. I have been to so many concerts throughout my life that picking my favorite out of them is a truly difficult task that requires a lot of thinking and debating. But I attempted it. Here are my personal three favorite concerts I have ever been to and why:

Ed Sheeran, Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, Massachusetts, September 25, 2015

This was a truly incredible show. What I loved was the utter simplicity of it. It was Ed Sheeran with nothing but his flannel shirt, his guitar and a loop pedal. There were no fancy lights, effects, or showy exploits because he simply didn’t need them. His voice shone through so beautifully. The smoothness in his tone filled every pore of your body.

What was truly amazing is that Gillette Stadium was completely packed. If you have never been there, it can accommodate almost 70,000 people. All of those people were there to see a 25-year-old kid play the guitar and sing. And why? Because of his pure, undeniable talent. It was really something to see.

Hanson, Night 2 of Anthem album Release party, Irving Plaza, New York, June 19, 2013

Anthem_Cover_FinalOkay, some things I have to say about this one:

1.) Yes, I am talking about Mmmbop Hanson.

2.) Yes, they are still making music.

3.) They are amazing.

When people think of Hanson, what automatically comes to their mind is the group’s typical ’90s ballad, ‘Mmmbop.’ You know, the one where you could never correctly pronounce the chorus? (by the way, its MMMbop, ba dupa dop ba du bop, ba dupa dop ba du dop, ba dupa dop ba du, ya imbeciles!).

What people don’t know about Hanson is that they create some of the best, Motown-style music you can find. They are true musicians, and they take their craft very seriously. Their documentary, Strong Enough to Break, that documents the process of their attempting to release their third album, Underneath. It took them four years to get that album out – and even then it only came out because they decided that they couldn’t take any more stress and pressure from their record label, Island def Jam, and started their very own record label, 3CG Records.

Yes, that’s right. Hanson refused to succumb to the pressure from their record label to be like every other artist out there and be mainstream. And they decided to be true to themselves and write music they love. That takes a lot of strength and confidence. They have an incredible amount of talent, and it shows through in their music.

If you look past that one single that they had over 20 years ago, you would see that they write unique music. It is a mix of jazz, Motown, pop and rock, but somehow it all comes together and works. Each album they have put out is something completely different. They have many different sounds, and they put their all into each one. In fact, the youngest member, Zac, was the youngest songwriter to be nominated for a Grammy. He was 12 years old, people. You know what I was doing at 12? Probably still making mud pies.

Hanson is still together after almost 25 years. I have been to many Hanson concerts, but I picked this one because it was possibly the best quality concert I have ever been to.

At one point during the night, Hanson did a cover of A Change in My Life, written by Billy Stratus. It was just the three of them, but it sounded like a full choir in that venue. If you looked around you, people all over were crying because of the beauty and purity of their sound. Given their small fan base, the concert was intimate, and every person there truly wanted to be there. There was a sense of unity and connection between every person. It was a truly incredible night. And it didn’t hurt that they looked darn good.

Backstreet boys ft. Avril Lavigne, Nikon at Jones Beach Theater, NY, June 22, 2014 10462961_10202363169615657_89663118714510856_n

I’m going to be completely honest here. This one is on this list more because of the personal significance it had for me rather than the actual quality of the concert.

Avril Lavigne has always held a special place in my heart because her music carried me through some of the most difficult times in my life. If you look back at the first issue of #NAMB, I wrote all about it.

Anyway, as part of her Black Star Tour she did a few shows where she opened for the Backstreet Boys. I was able to secure VIP tickets and I got the amazing opportunity to meet the artist who wrote the music that changed my life and guided me in so many ways. Meeting her was a moment I will remember for the rest of my life. I heard her voice before I actually saw her, and my heart started pumping.

Upon her actually entering my eye sight, I immediately broke down into tears. She automatically said “Oh my gosh, come here!” and gave me a huge hug, which made me start crying more. I was unable to form words at this moment, but luckily one of my best friends (and the creator of #NAMB), was with me and was able to tell Avril everything I wanted to tell her but couldn’t.

All I was able to do was give her an angel pin that I had and have Mary Grace tell her that she was my guardian angel in a way, and I wanted to give it to her. The show was fantastic, of course, but the significance of this night wasn’t the actual show – it was the moment before.

I choose to spend my extra money on concerts because they have given me moments that I am so lucky to have. I always have a great time because music is the best therapy. Seeing your favorite artist live is always something you will remember. As you can see, each person’s favorite shows will be different because of each person’s favorite styles of music, personal interests and many other factors. But there is one thing that concerts will always do: bring people together. That’s a pretty awesome thing.

The Game of Thrones Concert Experience is Coming

Author: Danny Abriano, Entertainment

Game of Thrones won’t be returning for Season 7 until some point in the summer of 2017, but there will be something to keep fans occupied between now and then.

The Game of Thrones Concert Experience, which will feature an orchestra, choir and imagery from the series that will be displayed on an enormous screen behind the stage, is set to open next February 15 in Kansas City and tour various spots around the United States.

The show will feature the music of Game of Thrones composer Ramin Djawadi.

I already had my mind set on going before I saw the amazing staging for it, though I was a bit skeptical of what the experience would be like. Now, how can any Thrones fan look at the above image and not be pumped?

Thrones executive producers/writers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss released a statement about the Concert Experience:

“The GoT Concert Experience will be unique in the history of concert tours, an eye-popping, ear-splitting, phantasmagoric blend of the show’s visuals and Ramin’s powerful compositions. We are more excited for it than anyone.”

Throughout its first six seasons, the music on Thrones – along with the sharp dialogue, blood, gratuitous sex, and humor from Tyrion – has been one of its staples. The opening sequence, the ominous Rains of Castamere before the Red Wedding episode scarred everyone for life, the Winds of Winter from the last episode of Season 6, the various themes for each house…it’s all insanely good.

And having it come to life in large venues with staging to match seems like something that will be quite special.

Tickets for the shows went on sale on August 13 and there are still lots of tickets available at reasonable prices. Snatch yours up before Winter comes.

5 Musical Acts to See Before it’s Too Late

Author: Danny Abriano, Entertainment

Even in the age of digital music, with pretty much every song a click away via Spotify, there’s nothing quite like live music, when the sound goes right through you as you scream every word. But if you’re a fan of classic rock, time might be running out for you to see some of your favorites before they stop touring and ride off into the sunset.

There are still dozens of stars from the ’60s and ’70s putting on concerts, but here are five acts you should be sure to see before it’s too late…

Paul McCartney
The former Beatle, who was the only member of the Fab Four who loved playing live all the way through the group’s time together, has been touring regularly since the mid-’70s.

At 74 years old, Paul McCartney’s stage presence and energy remains second-to-none. And if you’ve never seen him before, the little stories he tells between songs are, collectively, one of the highlights of the show.

If you see Sir Paul in concert, you’re guaranteed to get close to three hours of awesomeness, with him playing mostly his Beatles hits and solo hits while mixing in just a bit of his more obscure and/or newer stuff. And you might get a surprise, too, as fellow rock stars often show up to his shows to jam. Ringo Starr recently said he’d love to tour with McCartney, so don’t be surprised if he shows up to a show sometime soon.

Want to sing Let It Be with 50,000 people as McCartney sits behind the piano? This show is for you.

Currently on Tour? Yes, touring the U.S. through August, with four additional shows in California in October.

Bob Dylan
Full disclosure: I’m an enormous Bob Dylan fan but have yet to see him live. Why? Because friends who have seen him in concert have told me his shows are either vintage Dylan or total disasters.

My love for all things Dylan is so high that I haven’t yet been willing to risk attending a ‘bad’ show, thus skewing my image of him. But I’m probably being foolish and will most likely see him soon.

Dylan, 75, plays smaller venues these days, and his recent set lists have included only a few of his more popular songs. His show on July 17 included only three songs casual Dylan fans would know – She Belongs To Me, Tangled Up In Blue and Blowin’ In The Wind.

But is it worth the price of admission to hear vintage Dylan sing just one of those songs? I’d say yes.

Currently on Tour? No, but he has two dates at the ‘Desert Trip’ in California this October.

Billy Joel
I’ve seen Billy Joel twice – once at Madison Square Garden in the early-2000s and again at Shea Stadium during the Last Play at Shea in 2008. And both shows were life-changing.

If you’re from the New York area and dig classic rock, odds are that you love Billy Joel. And if you haven’t seen him yet, what are you waiting for?

Joel is 67 years old but his shows are still raucous, energy-filled affairs where he plays 25 or so songs (including legendary encores). And unlike the aforementioned Dylan, Joel gives the fans what they want, playing mostly his biggest hits.

Currently on Tour? Yes, this summer and fall in the U.S. and Europe, with shows each month at his residency at Madison Square Garden in NYC.

The Rolling Stones
Mick Jagger just turned 73 years old this week and the Stones – with guitarist Keith Richards understandably not having the playing chops he had in the early days – don’t rock quite as hard as they used to. But they’re still the Stones, one of the best bands ever. And as long as Jagger and Richards (who reportedly despise each other) are willing to play together, they’re worth seeing.

Like Dylan, I haven’t yet seen the Stones live, but they’re right at the top of my list.

As far as what to expect at a Stones show, it’ll be shorter than the ones McCartney and Joel put on (about 18 songs including the encore), but will be filled with hits. At a show this past March, they tore through classics such as Paint It Black, Honky Tonk Women, Gimme Shelter and Satisfaction.

Currently on Tour? Yes, the Stones have two shows in California and one in Las Vegas in October.

Bruce Springsteen
I saw The Boss at the old Meadowlands about ten years ago, before the place was torn down, and it was everything I hoped it would be. Springsteen is famous for his incredibly energetic, ridiculously long concerts, and he’s kept that legacy going even at the age of 66.

What makes Springsteen’s shows extra special is the continued presence of the E-Street Band, including drummer Max Weinberg and guitarists Steve Van Zandt and Nils Lofgren. The band absolutely wails while Springsteen does his thing, and it’s one of the most perfect combinations you’ll ever see.

Springsteen and the band will ordinarily play for three hours or more – they rocked out to 35 songs during their most recent concert, with hits mixed in with obscure tracks and some covers.

Currently on Tour? Yes, Springsteen is touring Europe right now, but will be heading back to the U.S. in August, with the first show in Jersey.