Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Ten Best Concerts We Saw In 2016

We're back today with a countdown of The Top Ten Shows We Saw in 2016 ...

So let's get right to it!

#10 - Garfunkel and Oates - (Riki Lindhome, Kate Micucci) - The City Winery 
They had us in stitches the whole night long ... and they were cracking themselves up, too!  (It doesn't get more fun than this!) 
Raunchy humor set to song ... cool little video clips ... we've loved these gals for awhile now so seeing them live was a real treat.
Go to YouTube for a taste of what this was like.  We had a blast! 
I hope these two stick together ... because the idea of Kate doing a solo show ("Come See Micucci") is more than I can handle!  (lol)  

#9 - Jim Peterik - The Songs - The Raue Center For Performing Arts
I gave Jim's "The Songs" CD a less-than-favorable review when it first came out ... 
I felt some of these "reimaginings" could have been better thought out ...
But Jim challenged me to come see the show live and see if I still felt the same way afterwards.
And I've got to say, he convinced me ... the live show was outstanding ... a whole lotta fun ... and I've listened to his new CD with a much better appreciation ever since.

 Me and Jim after the show
(I'm the one without the purple hair!)

#8 - Tommy Roe / Chris Montez - The Arcada Theatre
I had been looking forward to this show for awhile.  Tommy has been a good friend of Forgotten Hits for several years now so again, with a bit of persuading on my part, Ron Onesti booked him at The Arcada Theatre as a tribute / anniversary salute to the time he and Chris Montez headlined in Great Britain with The Beatles as their opening act!  (In fact, the anniversary was nearly to the DAY of the Arcada concert!)

More fun-time rock and roll by a couple of veterans who haven't seemed to age a day over the past fifty years!
Tommy's new book "From Cabbagetown to Tinsel Town" is available now ... and we had the chance to interview him before the show, too.  
You can find that interview here:
As well as our concert review:

#7 - Peter Cetera - Lion's Park, Elk Grove Village
After all the bad press Peter Cetera received for his comments and behavior regarding Chicago's induction into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame (admittedly some of it directed by us), it was a joy to see him perform in concert on The 4th of July in Elk Grove this summer.
A stellar show from start to finish ... and one we would gladly see again.
Accept the parting of the ways ... we'll gladly go see Chicago again, too ... and enjoy the show(s)!

#6 - .38 Special - The Arcada Theatre
Another group we have always wanted to see, these guys rocked the house when they took the stage at The Arcada Theatre this year.
While I primarily only knew the hits, they played enough other material to capture my interest and curiosity and, as such, I dug a little deeper into their catalog and discovered quite a few "new" gems along the way ... a rockin' good show. 

#5 - Paul Anka - The Arcada Theatre
Las Vegas came to St. Charles earlier this year when master showman Paul Anka took the stage for a sold out show at The Arcada Theatre.  
This guy is a pro's pro ... he's got this down to a science ... and he just bowls you over throughout his entire performance.  (Despite being backed by a full orchestra, it was  surprisingly a couple of the acoustic numbers that really stood out for me that night.)
But Anka (his voice stronger and richer than ever!) blew us away from start to finish.  A top notch show. 

#4 - The Alan Parson Project - The Arcada Theatre
These guys have made the list the last two years, typically ranking 1st or 2nd in the final standings.  I have never seen them put on anything less than a stellar show.
I've only downgraded them this year for two reasons ...
First of all, to give somebody else a chance to top the list for a change! (and we saw some REALLY good shows this year) ... and secondly because they have essentially performed the EXACT same show every time we've seen them.  (This was our fourth Alan Parsons show in three years.)
Now that doesn't mean that they haven't performed it to perfection ... they have ... but it may be time to "stretch" a little bit as they, too, sell out every time they come to town and a good percentage of their audience is "repeat business".
Probably the finest overall musicianship on this year's list (and yes, that means I'm ranking them ahead of Toto!), these guys can do it all ... so why not challenge yourselves a little bit more and do maybe another album medley of sorts next time around.
You'll find a short review here:
... but essentially it tells you the same thing we did in both 2015 and 2014, where they ranked at or near the top both years.
An absolute MUST SEE if you've never had the pleasure ... and I'm quite sure we'll go back and see them EVERY time they appear ... because these guys will truly blow you away.

#3 - The Stylistics - The Arcada Theatre
Another one that really surprised us.
We are both VERY big Russell Tompkins, Jr. fans ... 
So we were a bit apprehensive about what these guys would sound like without him onboard.
Well, let me tell you ... new lead vocalist (New?  He's been with them for 16 years now!!!) Eban Brown "out-Russell'd" Russell ... this concert was top notch from start to finish.   (I'm curious to see if Russell can put on as good a show as his replacement / competition!)
The surprise appearance by The New Kids On The Block at the end of the show was an unexpected bonus ... this isn't the kind of thing that typically happens in Chicago ... this is more of a New York or LA thing!!!
It was great ... and the audience loved it.
Definitely on our "let's see them again" list!

#2 - Cornerstones Of Rock - (featuring Jimy Sohns and The Shadows of Knight, The Cryan' Shames, The New Colony Six, The Ides Of March and The Buckinghams) - The Arcada Theatre
Thanks to their PBS / WTTW Television Special, this show has sold out EVERY performance it's made at The Arcada Theatre in the past year.  (And they're booked again on Valentine's Day, February 14th, 2017)
Last year we called The Marty Grebb Benefit Concert the Second Best Show we saw in 2015.  While essentially this is much of the same line-up, this act is ready to hit the road now that "Cornerstones" is airing nationwide on PBS stations all over America.  The "Rock Of Chicago" is alive and well ... and being heard from coast to coast!
Technically, this gives Jim Peterik TWO Top Ten Placings this year ... one for his solo show at The Raue and this one where he and The Ides of March TOTALLY stole the show.  (They're such a tough act to follow they wisely chose to do the intermission right after their set!)
And, that means that Bruce Mattey and Ray Graffia, Jr., ALSO qualify for two Top Twenty nods, thanks to this show and their special appearance at the City Lights Orchestra show that ranked at #18!)

#1 - The Orchestra - The Arcada Theatre
Yes ... this was the BEST show we saw this year ... and nobody could be more surprised than me!
Being huge Jeff Lynne fans, we've been waiting for him to tour The States again with his latest version of ELO ... especially now that he's released a new album.
But until then, we decided to check these guys out ... all former members of Electric Light Orchestra at some point ... and they did an INCREDIBLE job of recreating the sound of this classic (and soon to be) Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame inducted band.
Check out their touring schedule to see if they're heading out your way in 2017 ... DEFINITELY worth your time! 
(You'll also find our review of #16-ranked Marilyn McCoo and Bill Davis, Jr. in this posting.)

So there you have it ... our Top 20 Concerts of 2016.

Already a lot of GREAT shows coming up next year ...

We're anxious to see The Lettermen, Foghat with Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad, Micky Dolenz, Cornerstones of Rock, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, Burton Cummings (he ALWAYS makes our list!), Mary Wilson of The Supremes, Herman's Hermits starring Peter Noone and Tommy James and the Shondells, all of whom are already booked for appearances at The Arcada Theatre next year.  (Set some seats aside for me, Ron!!!)

For a complete list of shows to date, please be sure to check out their website / online box office ... ...
But remember, he is booking new shows WEEKLY so be sure to check back often!