Friday, December 11, 2015

Best Concerts of 2015 - Let The Countdown Begin!

We saw a LOT of great shows this year ... so narrowing it down to just ten is a difficult task.   

Here are some of the shows that just missed the cut ...  

THE NEW COLONY SIX - The Arcada Theatre - April 19th - Benefit Concert for The Rhythmic Arts Project 

THE HAPPY TOGETHER TOUR - Bensenville Performing Arts Center - starring The Grass Roots, The Cowsills, The Association, The Buckinghams, Mark Lindsay and The Turtles - August 16th 
Highlights:  The Cowsills and Mark Lindsay ...  
Full review:  

GEORGE BENSON - The Arcada Theatre - May 6th 

RICHARD MARX - The Genesee Theatre - December 4th review:   

PAUL REVERE'S RAIDERS - The Arcada Theatre - May 17th review:   

TONY ORLANDO - The Arcada Theatre - July 26th 

STEVEN WRIGHT - The Genesee Theatre - January 18th   

GINO VANNELLI - The Arcada Theatre - May 16th 

Once you've had the chance to review this list of "Best In Show", you'll see why people are saying that The Arcada Theatre is now the #1 Music Venue in the Midwest for big name entertainment ... the fun just never stops!  We saw SO many great shows at The Arcada again this year ... and host Ron Onesti is already gearing up in a VERY big way for 2016.  Be sure to check out the website often for updates.
#10 - GRAHAM NASH - The Arcada Theatre - July 28th

I've never seen The Hollies ... or Crosby, Stills and Nash (with or without Young) ... so the chance to see Graham Nash (who was always my favorite anyway!) perform a solo, acoustic show was a real treat.  (Actually he wasn't completely alone ... Shane Fontayne supplied ample back-up both musically and vocally.)
Graham is a great story teller ... both onstage and in print (I'm reading his biography right now ... which Frannie picked up ... autographed no less! ... in the lobby after the show.)
Nash did two full sets, encompassing the music of his entire career.  Again, a more charming entertainer (chock full of British humor) you're not going to meet.  
"Playing in a setting like this, I don't have to do any of Crosby's songs ... or any of Stephen's songs ... or any of Neil's songs ... instead I can play whatever the fuck I want."

#  9 - NEIL SEDAKA - The Arcada Theatre - October 4th

Never pass up the opportunity to catch a true legend.  
I had seen Neil Sedaka twice before Sunday Night's show at The Arcada ... both times as part of his mid-'70's comeback, fueled by Elton John signing him to Rocket Records.  (For the first show, back in 1975, he was the opening act for America ... less than a year later, Neil was the headliner, supported this time by newcomers England Dan and John Ford Coley ... in both cases, EXCELLENT shows.) 
As such, it had been quite awhile since I'd seen him.  And Frannie caught the show as a first-timer.  
Let me tell you, his voice hasn't lost a thing ... he did an impeccable set of music and was entertaining as could be, offering up all kinds of interesting tidbits from his long career.
Here's a guy who could play Vegas all year long and never have to worry about an empty seat.  I'm SO glad we decided to go!

#  8 - LOU CHRISTIE - Addison Italian Fest - August 23rd

Twice before I had tickets to see Lou Christie live in concert ... and BOTH shows got cancelled ... so when I heard he was going to make an appearance at this year's Italian Fest in Addison, I knew I had to go for it.  (Naturally, they forecast rain ... which may have pre-empted his show once again ... but instead the sun broke through and we were treated to a beautiful show, presented in glorious sunshine!)
Christie has long been a favorite of ours ... and he was in fine voice that afternoon.  I had the chance to meet him after the show and we have stayed in touch ever since.  (How cool is it to receive a "Happy Birthday" greeting from Lou Christie?!?!  And earlier this week I got a Christmas Card!!!)
Lou doesn't make it to Chicago very often but this show was well worth the trip.  (In fact he told me that he was heading home right after the show.)  He played to a VERY receptive audience who on multiple occasions gave him standing ovations.  (Lou quipped from the stage that a standing ovation means SO much more to him today than it did during all his "hit years" ... because he knows how much harder it is for all of us to stand up now!)    
Lou's voice was in fine form throughout his performance.  (The first question everybody asks when you have an entertainer with such a distinctive sound is "Yeah but can he still hit the notes?  Does he still sound like himself?")  I am happy to report a resounding "YES!" to both of those questions ... although it can't be easy!  (Christie turned 72 earlier this year but you'd never know it to listen to him sing.  Like I always say, when you've got it, you've got it!)  He was spot on vocally from start to finish.
I'm hoping he'll return to Chicago next year for an appearance at The Arcada Theatre ... and even recommended him as the perfect candidate for one of the up-coming Happy Together Tours.  (He'd be the PERFECT addition to the show ... someone we all haven't seen a dozen times already ... and able to go out there and do his five biggest hits and leave the crowd wanting more!)
Complete review here:

#  7 - RONNIE MILSAP - The Arcada Theatre - September 27th

When Ronnie Milsap announced that this would be his farewell tour, I knew we had to go.  I have enjoyed Ronnie's music for SO many years ... but have never had the chance to see him perform in concert before.  If I had any disappointment at all, it was that he didn't play another hour longer!  He barely scratched the surface of his incredible string of 40 #1 Country Hits, many of which crossed over to the Pop Charts as well, making Milsap a much-loved performed in ALL genres of music.
Ron Onesti hinted that Ronnie had mixed emotions about leaving the road ... here's hoping he decides to make a return appearance real soon!  
This show is pure musical magic from start to finish ... no glitz and glamour ... no special effects ... just good old fashioned playin' and singin' ... with the emphasis on the music every step of the way. 

#  6 - HERMAN'S HERMITS starring PETER NOONE - The Arcada Theatre - May 30th

Noone's voice has only gotten purer and richer with age.  He can completely transport you back to a time when he was 17 years old ... I swear, he never ages ... and this music still has the same kick and appeal just as it did (as Peter points out) over 20 years ago when they were making records as the original Herman's Hermits.  (Never more clearly than during a Herman's Hermits concert is the point driven home about how timeless this music really is ... we saw five year olds singing along with every word and dancing in the aisles!)  The show-stopper for me was "The End Of The World", a song he has long claimed to be his Herman's Hermits favorite ... I have NEVER heard him perform it better ... absolutely goosebump-inducing ... a simply beautiful reading of a classic.  Since about 70-80% of the show is played for laughs, one forgets just how well Peter Noone can still sing ... but when it's time to play it straight for a few minutes the true, lasting quality of his voice really shines through. 
There aren't many performers as entertaining and captivating as Peter Noone ... while one could argue that he has it down to a science, it never feels that way ... Noone is so engaging and personable each time out that every show seems fresh and new, no matter how many times you've seen him.  (That's why his loyal group of Noonatics attend multiple shows in multiple cities every single year!)
His two set show at The Arcada Theatre was no exception.  The band featured more British Invasion hits than ever in order to fill out the length of the show, but Peter has a way of making every song touch your heart.  He already has a full schedule booked for 2016 ... including a return trip to The Arcada on June 4th.

Join us tomorrow as we count down The Top Five Concerts of 2015!!!