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Concerts I Wish I'd Seen

A God, but she didn’t know it

Sure, I’ve written about musicians I’ve never seen but wish I had but that isn’t this article! This is about musicians I didn’t see on specific tours or even concerts that I wish I’d caught. I mean more than wish, like dream of having been to.

February 12, 1924, the world premiere of “Rhapsody In Blue” at the Aeolian Hall. It wasn’t completed yet and apparently George Gershwin improvised on the spot and the improvisations haven’t survived. It also got mixed reviews. But “Rhapsody In Blue” is one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written and I would love have seen it live.

May 17, 1947, The Town Hall – The not big band his All Stars were exactly that and this concert, along with one four months later at the Symphony Hall in Boston were  Louis at the very height of his skills. He broke up his big band to play with this smaller band.  Hollywood didn’t ruin Louis, and he was great in the 1950s with bigger bands, just not this great.

April 23rd, 1961 –Judy Garland at Carnegie Hall  and quite possibly the single greatest concert of all time. After all Garland went through, she managed to perfect her gift and change her career traction. You can hear the audience on the recording, they seem to be willing her on to new heights of brilliance. And Judy seemed so fragile, so human, it is like she didn’t realize she was a God.

October 24th, 1962 – James Brown and I don’t think it is possible to rave louder and stronger for this, this is where black r&b overtook everything else and the world spend the next five years trying to catch and then gave up and Brown became the mainstream. I hear women were fainting during this set.

June 26th and 29th, 1968, Elvis was Back in Burbank. I have watched the special umpteen times, over and over again. After all those movies that he didn’t much care for, at the height of the 1960s psycedhelic era, Presley donned a leather jumpsuit and blew everybody away. Maybe this is the greatest concert of all time.

August 24th, 1972 – Alright, don’t hate me for this, and consider it a hangover from my youth because Hot August Night is one of a handful of albums (really, I can’t think of any other right now) that sends me back to a specific time and place. So I would loved loved loved to have seen Neil Diamond, the nebbish Jewish kid, remake himself into a Greek God… at the Greek so it kinda makes sense.

1974 –  Bob Dylan’s  Before The Flood Concerts. With the Band at the peak of their powers themselves, Dylan seemed to be making an extended political commentary about the end of America’s political innocence, once and for all, never to return. The opening song on the double, “Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I Go Mine)” is where the political and the personal are so entwined it’s the same thing.

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