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Best Concerts 2014

the strokes sing the hits

the strokes sing the hits

Neil Young – Carnegie Hall – January 6th, 2014 – Once in a lifetime concert, as Neil Young fuses his greatest moment in the sun with a set of of his folk rock masterpieces from the early 1970s. It was one of those shows where anybody who was there will never forget it and anybody who was there should be grateful. The controversy as to whether he was being difficult or not, not withstanding, what you lost in sentiment you gained in sharpness.

Elvis Costello – Carnegie Hall – June 25th, 2014 – The second of a two night stand but this is the one to have watched. A solo performance, started with half of My Aim Is True, ended with a brand new song, a good one, and “Peace Love And Understanding” and in between he spent two and half hours wandering round his future history with unvarying, unwavering and very thrilling results.

Marshall Crenshaw – City Winery – July 8th, 2014 – With the Bottle Rockets, one of the greatest songwriters of our time jammed a little here, played a little there, threw up “In The Year 2525” and reminded us all what a master pop rocker can do when he is in the mood.

FKA Twigs – Terminal 5 – December 8th, 2014 – A ferociously gifted yet oddly mutated soul girl raised on UK trip hop and MIA, gave a dazzling performance for the ages in support of her brilliant debut album and left us all in awe.

Taylor Swift – Madison Square Garden – December 12th, 2014 – The biggest pop star in the world, at the height of her power and popularity, on the eve and the day of her 25th birthday.

Laura Marling – Beacon Theatre – December 8th, 2014 – Alyson Camus noted that the folk superstar had returned to live in London. On the way she performed the best six minutes of rock and roll I heard all year.

The Replacements – Forest Hills Stadium – September 19th, 2014 – The return of the biggest alt rock band of all time becomes a gigantic singalong as 16,000 40 somethings get to hear them at the very top of their game for 90 minutes of hits. The Replacements you always dreamt of.

Stevie Wonder – Madison Square Garden – December 6th, 2014 – Performing Songs In The Key of Life… any questions?

No Doubt – Central Park – September 27th, 2014 – Off the road for over a year, no rust on No Doubt as they blew everybody (with the exception of the Prime Minister Of India) off stage on an hits 45 minutes plus Sting for an encore.

Tomas Doncker Band – The Blue Note – July 11th, 2014 – Indeed, since it was well past midnight when the band hit the stage it was July 12th, and for some 70 minutes they rewrote the story of the blues and cemented their position as New York’s best band. Discover them now so you can say I told you so.

Caroline Kole – The Bitter End – August 13th, 2014 – An almost perfect hour of modern country pop by the finest young singer to mine the much ignored genre since, well, since Taylor Swift. who she resembles in attitude and who she could could replace for a certain section of the audience, her peers and a little younger, who Taylor is slowly leaving behind or never quite had.

Billy Joel – Madison Square Garden – October 2nd, 2014 – back for another dip after the dastardly deep album New Year’s Eve gig at Barclay’s Center, the ease with which Joel performs to an audience of 20,000 people is a lesson artistic domination through repetition. He has simply done it so many damn times by now, he can do it, that’s all.

M.I.A. And Solange – Webster Hall – May 10th, 2014 – Two of the best musicians around, M.I.A. has reinvented the dance song and is copied so prodigiously and often it is ridiculous and Solange is an alt soul master, even if a reportedly nasty piece of work. Days before this gig she beat up Jay Z in an elevator

The Meters – BB Kings – January 3rd, 2041 – The Icons Of Funk – Specifically, Leo Nocentelli, Bernie Worrell and Fred Wesley, playing funk classics. All three were superb but Bernie was really on fire this night

Jason Isbell – Lincoln Center – January 30th, 2014 – A classic interpreter of his own material, and pretty good with a cover as well, plays a 90 minute set for “American Songwriters” in what stands as the loveliest room in the city.

Bob Dylan – Beacon Theater – December 21st, 2014 – 19 songs, two from the 60s, two from the 70s and the rest current, six off Tempest alone. Yep, not your Daddy’s nostalgia.

Cliff Richard – The Gramercy Theater – June 21st, 2014 – You show me a concert that opens with “Summer Holiday”, “I Could Easily (Fall In Love With You)” and “In The Country” and I’ll show three hundred people in their 50s and older screaming their heads off.

The Wonder Years – Best Buy Theater – April 17th, 2014 – The sound of Young America trying to make sense of a world of diminished expectations and social desperation, sung by 20 somethings just a little bit wiser than their teenage fans.

Drake Vs Lil Wayne – Forest Hills Stadium – August 19th, 2014 – Finally, a pair of first tier rappers on the same stage actually have some chemistry. And some fun in this battle of the Young Money rappers.

Don Giovanni Showcase – Music Hall Of Williamsburg – February 7th, 2014 – A veritable who’s who of power punk 2014, lead by the unquestionable brilliance of Shellshag, with supergroup Upset in the middle and Worriers at the top of the evening. If they have begun at 730pm instead of 830pm I could have caught Laura Stevenson as well.

James Chance And The True Groove All Stars – The Cutting Room – June 12th, 2014 – he sounds like his sax and gives unlovable whole new vistas of meaning while playing notes that don’t actually exist.

David Bronson – Rockwood II – December 21st, 2014 – with help from his band and help from the Alomar family, Bronson performed 8 songs off his brilliant 2015 release Questions.

Katy Perry – Barclay Center – July 25th, 2014 – Modern pop musics big sister plays hit after hit with a sort of las vegas meets ancient Egypt motif, just to prove lost love ain’t lost life and roaring is easy if you try hard enough.

Jessica Molaskey – The Allen Room – Broadway stalwart joined by her husband and her daughter to sing stealthful rearrangements of classic Joni Mitchell songs. For American Songbook.

The True Groove Allstars – The Cutting Room – March 11th, 2014 – Lead by Tomas Doncker and featuring astounding turns by Charlie Funk and James Chance, it put the band and label right at the center of the map.

George Strait – Prudential Center – March 1st, 2014 – Two hours of Strait hit country songs.

The Allman Brothers – Beacon Theater – March 21st, 2014 – With Greg out sick, it was either the Hayne-Truck Band or the Allman Brothers circa 2024.

Lorde – Roseland – March 12th, 2014 – Teen pop sensation pulls a moody

Cat Stevens – Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction – April 10th, 2014 – Only 15 minutes of music, but a gem of a performance.

Chance The Rapper, Jenny Lewis, the Strokes, Janelle Monae – Randalls Island – June 6th – June 8th, 2014 – Four outstanding sets from an incredible long weekend.

Kraftwerk – United Palace – April 1st, 2014 – Bringing men in to do a robots job… in 3D.

Salva – Terminal 5 – May 31st, 2014 – West Coast DJ and remix freak puts it on the side to perform an hour long beats rhapsody for the ages

Comment: In retrospect, the Governors Ball was just tremendous. Three days, but home before 1am each night, of first grade, top of line modern popular music. From Skrillex to Outkasts, from the Strokes to Grimes, from Jenny Lewis to run The Jewels, this was the one.

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