It was a life changing year for me with a ton of travel, a new career, and a new city that I tentatively call “home”. In no particular order, these were the five shows that I’ll remember most.
1. Cowboy Junkies – Bethel, NY
This was more about the venue than the music (which was still quite good). The show took place on the grounds of Woodstock. The hillside, once covered in hippies and hope, became my blanket for an afternoon under the sun followed by a visit to the excellent museum they’ve built to honor the event. I was writing for the Cowboy Junkies website this year and you can read more about this magical day here.
2. The Cult & The Black Ryder – Las Vegas, NV
Ever go see a band, kind of expecting them to disappoint, being proven right and still have an amazing night? That’s what happened when The Cult came to town and, eh, played a less than inspiring set. However, opening act The Black Ryder created a haze of layered guitar tones that would rival the best of the shoegaze icons like My Bloody Valentine. Singer Aimee Nash weaves hypnotic lines around one’s heart and leaves you defenseless. Their album went home with me that night and became my favorite of 2010.
3. Interpol & White Rabbits & Imagine Dragons – Las Vegas, NV
The first Interpol album reinvigorated my passion for music. The post-punk wave of the new millennium meant to me what Nirvana probably meant to everyone else in the early 90′s. Even without Carols D. on bass guitar, the band played a tremendous set and covered a ton of the early material. Opening for the opener was local band Imagine Dragons. They caught me off guard with their polished show that crosses Arcade Fire with Muse (and maybe some Killers since we’re in Vegas).
4. The Hold Steady & Company of Thieves – Las Vegas, NV
What happens when three Les Paul’s are turned up and Craig Finn weaves around a microphone? Rock and roll in its purest state. Despite a terrible turnout at the House of Blues, the band played its heart out. The setlist felt like forever with each song leading into the next. Finn’s energy lifted the crowd into the air and the band’s soaring choruses never let us down.
5. Cowboy Junkies – Denver, CO
Certainly not the best performance of the tour. The venue wouldn’t rank high on my list of favorites. And I was exhausted by the time we reached Denver, having logged 14,000 miles in rental cars during the tour. But, this marked the end of my adventure following the Cowboy Junkies tour as their “tour diary writer” dude. I said goodbye to a special time in my life that evening and bid farewell to a truly special group of musicians who I have come to call friends over these years. Margo Timmins sang ’200 More Miles’ for me that evening and I don’t think I will ever fell so close to a song or moment again.