My top 10 Jersey concerts of 2008
My top 10 Jersey concerts of 2008
Just like every other critic, blogger, scene regular and frequent record store patron around this time of year, I've compiled a "top 10" list. However, rather than throw together a list of my favorite albums, singles, videos, re-issues or beards using the same pool of nominees as every other list-maker, I've decided to make my "top 10" pretty personal. Here is a list of the top 10 shows I saw in New Jersey this year.
There is some punk, classic rock, alt-country and plenty in between. This was, after all, a pretty eclectic year in music. So read on, and if you saw a great show in Jersey this year that didn't make my list, drop me a comment and let me know.
1. The Felice Brothers, Sept. 13 at Maxwell's in Hoboken: The Felice Brothers' self-titled debut album was one of the best albums released by anybody in 2008, and their powerful set this September at Maxwell's was the best show I saw this year in Jersey.
Combining rootsy alt-country with a raucous rock ‘n' roll vibe, the brothers from the Catskill Mountains are, for my money, the best young band in the country, and their jam with Maxwell's show opener A.A. Bondy on "Helen Fry" was the combustible high point of an unforgettable show.
2. Billy Bragg, Oct. 19 at the Pollak Theatre in West Long Branch: An English punk rock legend working to help save the youth of America one anthem at a time, Bragg delivered a show at Monmouth University this October that was equal parts rock concert and political rally and proved he was the spiritual offspring of Woody Guthrie and Joe Strummer.
3. David Byrne, Nov. 3 at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank: Sure, Byrne's show in Red Bank this fall featured elaborate lighting schemes and interpretive backup dancing. These elements, along with killer new material and a few choice greatest hits, combined for a moving show that was part theatrical production, part rock concert.
4. Bob Dylan, August 15 at the Borgata in Atlantic City: Yes, Dylan made a lot of people very happy with his greatest hits set two nights earlier at Asbury Park's Convention Hall. But the show at the Borgata was a must-see for Dylan nuts, featuring seldom-played gems such as "Lenny Bruce" and "I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Have Never Met)."
5. Levon Helm, Feb. 16 at the Paramount Theater in Asbury Park: A founding member of the Band, Levon Helm brought his tour in support of his Grammy-winning album "Dirt Farmer" to Asbury Park, and treated the audience to Band classics ("Evangeline," "The Weight") as well as some covers (such as Bruce Springsteen's "Atlantic City") and surprise performances by Max Weinberg, Phoebe Snow and Jimmy Vivino.
6. Flogging Molly, Sept. 15 at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville: The always-reliable Irish rockers delivered their standard killer set at the Starland Ballroom this fall, drawing on well-worn favorites such as "Drunken Lullabies" as well as material from their dark and focused new disc, "Float."
7. The New York Dolls, Feb. 15 at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park: Since their reunion a few years back, every show by punk pioneers the New York Dolls feels like a celebration of the power of rock, and this show -- which drew on material from the three albums the Dolls have released over the past 35 years -- was a knockout.
8. The Decemberists and Loch Lomond, Nov. 11 at the Wellmont Theatre in Montclair: A perfect example of the right bands for the right venue, retro-flavored ensembles the Decemberists and Loch Lomond brought their warm and intelligent sounds this fall from Portland, Ore. to the recently-renovated Wellmont, which first opened in 1922.
9. Lou Reed, April 24 at the Paramount Theater in Asbury Park: Over the course of his too-brief 12-song set at the Paramount this April, Reed covered all of the bases of his career, from Velvet Underground classics ("Sweet Jane") to later solo gems ("Mad") and even a new tune ("Power of the Heart.") The performances were for the most part epic and inspired, but the night ended too quickly.
10. The Bouncing Souls and the Gaslight Anthem, Dec. 28 at the Convention Hall Grand Arcade in Asbury Park: Simply put, this show was more Jersey than eating a pork roll, egg and cheese sandwich while listening to Bruce Springsteen on the Seaside Heights boardwalk and playing skee-ball to win a Sopranos poster. It rocked pretty hard, too.