This is my opinion of the greatest concerts I’ve ever
attended. You won’t hear me say that the Beatles
concert at Shea Stadium was the best, or the Stones
really rock, because I’ve never seen them live. And
“circa” means that I really can’t remember when I saw
them. But just the fact that I still remember details
of these concerts…well, that tells you how awesome
1. The Jefferson Airplane, c. 1967. First rock
concert I ever attended, in San Diego (downtown).
Quite spectacular even though I was wayyyy in the
back. White Rabbit brought the house down, and the
2. The Mamas and the Papas, c. 1967, also in downtown
San Diego. They connected with the audience, they
brought visiting musicians with them (like Papa John
Creach on electric violin). I was California Dreamin’
3. Simon & Garfunkel, c. 1968, at the San Diego Sports
Arena. This was really half a concert, as they shared
the bill with The Lovin’ Spoonful. I will never
forget when Paul Simon changed his E string right
there on stage while keeping up a conversation.
4. Neil Diamond, c. 1970, at the San Diego Sports
Arena. (Are you getting the clue that I grew up in
San Diego?) This was when Neil was at the height of
his song-writing and top 10 power. He told the story
of how he auditioned for the title role in “Lenny.” I
am not kidding.
5. Linda Ronstadt, c. 1985, at the Universal
Amphitheatre in Los Angeles. This is before What’s
New and Canciones, and all rock ‘n roll covers and
originals. How I wish I had had the money to see her
in 1975 in Norfolk when she performed to promote her
Heart Like a Wheel concert. But I was only making
$250 a week then, and couldn’t pay for a $25 ticket.
6. Tina Turner, c. 1992, at the Concord Pavilion.
I’ve seen Tina three times now, including her last
tour a few years ago. The first time I saw her, she
still had all the energy in the world to perform her
famous dance moves while singing at the same time.
Again, I wished I had seen Ike and Tina Turner at San
Diego State in the late ‘60’s, but I was too much of a
rock purist at the time.
7. Dan Fogelberg, c. 1992, at the Concord Pavilion.
Folk/rock singer/songwriter, his The Wild Places album
is the complete album.
8. Elton John, c. 2005, at Caesar’s Palace in Las
Vegas. I wound up with the ticket hours before the
concert, and was just steps from his red piano. He
didn’t talk much, just sang as huge videos
complementing the music played in the background.
9. Tom Petty, c. 2006, at the Greek Theatre, Berkeley.
Hate the venue, love the performer. He went through
all of his tunes with high intensity, and the crowd
loved him. And that smoke permeated the stadium.
10. Johnny Mathis, c. 1964, at the downtown San Diego
Civic Theatre. My first concert. My brother took me,
begrudgingly. Chances are I still remember his
signature tunes, and will until the Twelfth of Never.
11. Mary Chapin Carpenter, c. 1995, at the Paramount Theatre, Oakland. I walked out of there humming her songs.
12. Celine Dion, c. 1998, at the Oakland Arena. I had a great seat, and her huge voice catapulted her off the stage. I especially enjoyed the Japanese violinist who performed with feeling on stage with her that night; he had performed on one of her albums, on my favorite of her songs.