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My Favorite Concerts of the Decade

My Favorite Concerts of the Decade

Does the decade end this month or in December of 2020? Considering I'm always looking for an excuse to make a list, I'm going to go with this month. I covered my favorite releases of the decade last month; here are my most memorable musical experiences from the past ten years, listed in chronological order:

LCD Soundsystem -- Fillmore, Denver, CO 10/20/10

Few bands induce as much booty shaking as LCD Soundsystem. Their Red Rocks, Bonnaroo and 1stBank Center shows this decade were all incredible, but the Denver Fillmore show was the peak. Smaller venue, packed to the rafters, and everyone dancing because they believed this was their last chance to "Dance Yrself Clean" in light of the band's planned retirement (which thankfully ended in 2016).

Radiohead -- 1stBank Center, Broomfield, CO 3/13/12

Radiohead's only local appearance of the decade sold out in seconds. The concert left no minds unblown and featured scores of onstage cameras and screens displaying the minutiae of their live presentation. Thom Yorke and company can claim to be one of the most important rock acts of the last quarter-century. Their show at 1stBank reconfirmed that status and left fans ecstatic.

Emmylou Harris/Daniel Lanois -- Warfield, San Francisco, 4/5/14

Emmylou Harris snapped out of a mid-nineties funk courtesy of Wrecking Ball, which matched Daniel Lanois' ethereal production values with a stellar collection of songs by Bob Dylan, Steve Earle, Kate & Anna McGarrigle, Gillian Welch, Lucinda Williams, Neil Young, and others. In 2014 she celebrated the album's (near) 20th anniversary with a tour that sadly skipped Colorado; this unforgettable San Francisco show included an opening set from Lanois and the LP played start-to-finish with Lanois' much-covered "The Maker" for an encore.

The Replacements -- Fillmore, Denver, CO 4/19/15

This wasn't the first decade to feature reunited acts touring to stir memories and cash registers, but it certainly seemed like a different band reunited and hit the road every other week. My personal favorite was the reformed Replacements, who brought their raw power and still-cherished sloppiness to Denver. While--unlike in their heyday--they kept it together for the full length of their set, leader Paul Westerberg still managed to sing one song from inside a tent. The 'Mats made sure no one forgot how they inspired a thousand drunken toasts to indie rock.

Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Years of the Grateful Dead -- Soldier Field, Chicago 7/3-5/15

You can argue whether Trey Anastasio was the best pick for the lead guitarist. You can argue that this event should have been held in the Bay Area, where the Dead originated. You can argue that the subsequent touring by three of the four remaining members under the Dead & Company moniker took a little luster off this "finale." But what you can't argue with is that this was the biggest musical reunion ever, featuring hundreds of thousands of Deadheads that were just grateful for the chance to throw down one last time for the spirit of the sixties and to honor 2,000+ Grateful Dead concerts.

Bonnaroo -- Manchester, TN 6/9-12/16

This lineup appeared to be curated just for me: Leon Bridges, Sam Bush, Chicano Batman, Dead & Company, Dungen, Father John Misty, FIDLAR, Ellie Goulding, Haim, Jason Isbell, LCD Soundsystem, Pearl Jam, Tame Impala, Kurt Vile, Kamasi Washington, Ween and many others (including the pictured one-off tribute to the recently-deceased Garry Shandling by Eddie Vedder and Judd Apatow). You could make a pretty good festival out of the bands I missed due to scheduling conflicts: Band of Horses, The Claypool Lennon Delirium, Steve Gunn, Halsey, Lizzo, M83, Nathaniel Rateliff, and The Night Sweats, Chris Stapleton and Two Door Cinema Club.

The Specials -- Zepp Tokyo, Tokyo 3/23/17

This one combined two rare treats: a live show from the reformed Ska pioneers and a small venue in an exotic foreign locale. The group did not disappoint; through a sweaty ninety-minutes, they cranked the frenetic rhythm that spearheaded the 2 Tone movement and proved that dancing like a maniac transcends all language barriers.

U2 -- Met Life Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ 6/29/17

U2 put on some of the most breathtaking spectacles of the decade. Their 2011 "360" show at Mile High included a massive spider-like stage that brought the band closer to everyone in attendance. 2015's "Songs of Innocence" tour spotlighted a stunning arena-length screen down the middle that featured projections, allowed the band to walk through it, and included the memorable image of Bono holding The Edge in the palm of his hand. But 2017's "Joshua Tree" tour presented an incredible 200-foot-wide, 45-foot-high LED video screen as a backdrop to a two and a half hour, nonstop greatest hits set. Sadly they didn't bring it to Colorado, but it was well worth a trip to New York (and Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen rounded out the trip nicely).

Arroyo Seco Festival -- Brookside Golf Course, Pasadena, CA 6/23, 24/18

This two-day event featured an incredible menu of music for families of all ages without the EDM or hip-hop of most festivals. Headliners included Neil Young, Kings of Leon, Robert Plant and Jack White, but it was the undercard that took the selection to the next level. How to choose between The Bangles, Belle & Sebastian, Fantastic Negrito, Gomez, Seu Jorge, Milk Carton Kids, Alanis Morrissette, Aaron Neville, Pretenders, Margo Price, The Revolution, Pharoah Sanders, Shakey Graves, The Specials, Irma Thomas, Kamasi Washington, and many other great acts? Hurray For The Riff Raff's early-afternoon set may be the best 45 minutes of live music I saw all decade.

David Byrne -- Red Rocks, 8/28/18

How good was David Byrne's show? It featured a highly choreographed, fully mobile band on an unencumbered stage performing some of the Talking Head's best-loved material. No one who saw this show will ever forget it. Unsurprisingly, Byrne has since taken the show to Broadway, where he is thrilling crowds with his craftsmanship and theatricality.

And the next ten in chronological order:

Vampire Weekend, Ogden Theater, 3/19/10: Last chance to catch 'em in a club. Liftoff achieved.

Nick Cave, Ogden Theater, 4/3/13: Seeing Cave's showmanship up close and personal--behind the great Push The Sky Away LP--left an indelible mark.

Califone, My Living Room, 5/21/13: The only House Show ever held in my house.

Lana Del Rey/Courtney Love, Red Rocks 5/12/15: The hot mess of the nineties opened up for the hot mess of the tens.

Tame Impala, Red Rocks 8/31/16: This was Kevin Parker's decade. Tame Impala inspired in the clubs coming up, late night at Bonnaroo and the Mission Ballroom, but it was the Red Rocks 2016 show that offered pure perfection in every note and every piece of confetti.

Roger Waters, Pepsi Center, 6/4/17: Call it the Pink Floyd Orchestra if you like, but there's no doubting the continued relevance of Waters' best music in our divided age.

Jerry Garcia Tribute/Birthday Celebration, Red Rocks 8/4/17: Bob Weir, John Mayer, Kamasi Washington, Joe Russo's Almost Dead and others serenaded a thrilled audience with Garcia's enduring legacy.

Margo Price, Fox Theater, 2/20/18: Price came through the crowd giving away roses during her "Proud Mary" encore. Seriously.

Courtney Barnett, Ogden Theater, 9/29/18: It was so much easier to enjoy Courtney Barnett when her crunchy rock didn't coincide with a presidential election (as did her prior Denver show).

John Prine/Nathaniel Rateliff, Buell Theater, 11/10/18: Prine has always been a national treasure; seeing The Tree of Forgiveness performed live was poignant and unforgettable.

Stay Tuned

More info coming this spring.