2013 Year in Review: Concert Edition

Published 12/30/13 by:

You may or may not know this about me, but I love live music. I will go to any show, at any venue, except for heavy metal, or whatever category Godsmack falls under. Basically, if the lead singer isn’t screaming maniacally into the microphone, I’m there. The summer time is obviously the most popular for concerts in New England because outdoor venues can reopen their gates, but I try to make an effort to spread out my attendance to shows over the winter so that I don’t cry myself to sleep at night. Below you will find my list of shows that I saw in 2013, and the ones that were on my wish list. Please let me know in the comments who I should’ve seen, so I can be on the look-out for tickets in 2014!


Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros at State Theater Portland, Maine June 2013

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I went with a large group of friends to this show, and trekked up to Portland (about 2 hours North of Boston) for it. To say the expectations were high would be a fairly monumental understatement. The crowd ranged from older hippies to younger hippies. These guys (& gals) had been on my “to see” list for a few years, and I was thrilled to finally see them in action. Apart from the festival circuit, you don’t see a lot of bands of this size (at least a dozen people on stage) traveling on American tours as a headliner. Obviously bigger acts warrant a large back-up band, but this is a dozen people who are all part of the ensemble. It was pretty exciting. The State Theater is an awesome venue if you ever get a chance to check it out – it’s an old theater with a balcony, floor seats etc. and every show is general admission. For thirty bucks you could be in the front row, if you’re tenacious enough. I’ve seen multiple shows here, and I’m never disappointed. Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros didn’t publish who their opening act was, and they moved the start time to the show up by an hour. We then endured a kind of sloppy opener, but we were confused because they looked like the Magnetic Zeros minus Edward. Could this be? Were we already seeing the headliner unbeknownst to us? Sort of. The rest of the band minus the two regular lead singers (pictured above) came out and did a 45 minute set that was kind of aimless, and the songs all blended into one another. There was a couch involved. It was bizarre. Then they took a 15 minute break, and Edward and the gang all came out, and rocked the house. They played every song I knew, and multiple songs that hadn’t been released yet. There was a lot of howling, swaying, moving and grooving going on – and that was just from the band. Edward Sharpe is what I imagine a rocker from the 70s to be like at his pique – he obviously enjoys the music he’s playing, and he feeds off of the audience. It was a shaky start, but they redeemed themselves.

Concert Grade: B

Taylor Swift with opener Ed Sheeran at Gillette Stadium Foxboro Massachusetts July 2013

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This marked the third time I’ve seen Taylor Swift play at a sold out Gillette Stadium. It’s pretty difficult for me to be unbiased about her because I absolutely adore her. It’s also hard for me to not compare this show to when I saw her on the Speak Now Tour because the girl literally sang, danced, and gazebo’d over the stadium in the pouring rain. That’s hard to beat. TSwift certainly gave it the ole college try, and managed to dazzle me by having a superior opener in Ed Sheeran. His vocals, covers, and wizardry with a looping pedal were phenomenal. I’m looking forward to seeing him again when he ventures out as a headliner. Taylor played all of my favorites, and I loved that she included a secret song in the #9 spot of her set list – meaning it changed every show to whatever she wanted it to be. On the car ride to the stadium I told my brother that I was hoping for “Tim McGraw” or “Fearless” as the secret song, and when she uttered, “There’s something ’bout the way the street looks when it’s just rained…” I started screaming like a lunatic. Other highlights included Carly Simon coming out to duet on “You’re So Vein” and Taylor waltzing around the audience to one of my all time favorites: “Sparks Fly”. 

Concert Grade: A-

Jason Aldean, Miranda Lambert, Jake Owen & Thomas Rhett at Fenway Park Boston Massachusetts July 2013

Screen Shot 2013-12-29 at 10.25.46 AM                                                                                                     Photo Credit: http://j33zyyy.tumblr.com/

Here’s the situation: my lease on my apartment was up on July 31st. During a mid-July packing extravaganza with my brother in our sweaty, un-air conditioned apartment, I jokingly asked, “wanna see if we can score some last minute tix to the Jason Aldean concert?” My brother, who is usually the cheapskate in our sibling duo, said, “sure, we deserve it!” So, on a muggy, overcast day in July, Brad and I bought tickets directly behind first base at Fenway Park, and picked them up in a restaurant 45 minutes prior to the show. I want to clarify for everyone that this wasn’t really a Jason Aldean concert (although he was the headliner). This was a country festival. Miranda Lambert easily could’ve been the headliner, and her set list certainly showcased that, and Jake Owen was absolutely stellar (unfortunately we missed Thomas Rhett’s set). Imagine sitting in America’s best ballpark (in my humble opinion), and hearing about 25 number one hits from country radio in one concert. It was absurd. The crowd was rowdy, but they were some of the best people I’ve ever done a sing-along with. While I love Jason Aldean, I was underwhelmed by his set – it wasn’t that long, and he didn’t play enough of his new album (something I’ve never complained about before because it’s usually the opposite – not enough oldies). I think Miranda played just as many songs, and she was more interactive with the crowd. Brad complained that Miranda was “too twangy” and that it made her difficult to understand, but I knew her songs well enough that I didn’t even notice it. The highlights of the night were “Night Train”, “Gunpowder & Lead” and “Anywhere With You”.

Concert Grade: A-

Jay-Z & Justin Timberlake at Fenway Park Boston, Massachusetts August 2013

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I don’t think I need to say a lot about this concert because it was legendary, and we all know it. The highlight for me was that there wasn’t one defined headliner – they took turns performing mini-sets of songs. Moment I needed to be fanned from fainting number one:: when Justin sang “New York, New York” Sinatra-style with just a spotlight on him, and it led into Hov belting out “Empire State of Mind”. Moment number two: when Justin covered Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” which led into “Izzo”. They closed the show with “Forever Young” together, and managed to get the entire audience in Fenway Park on their feet, waving their cell phones in the air. It was majestic.

Concert Grade: A



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