BEST OF 2017: Michael Eck’s Top 10 Concerts of the Year

Alejandro Escovedo
Alejandro Escovedo @ Club Helsinki, 1/6/17

Story by Michael Eck
Photograph by Michael Hochanadel

Alejandro Escovedo & the Burn Something Beautiful Band, January 6, Club Helsinki, Hudson
Escovedo out with a new album Burn Something Beautiful and the band that created it, including Peter Buck, Scott “the Hoople” McCaughey, Linda Pitmon and Kurt Bloch. Bloch upstaged constantly, but his Robert Quine-meets-Neil Young shreddage absolved any sins. McCaughey is currently recovering from a November stroke.

Bryan Ferry, March 30, Proctors, Schenectady
Well, goddamn, that was worth the wait. All the suave you could handle, plus all the weirdness you could want. “More than This” and “In Every Dream Home a Heartache,” kaboom. And is it possible to be in any more love with saxophonist Jorja Chalmers? (Full disclosure, I work at Proctors).

Gillian Welch, July 2, The Egg, Albany
Dave Rawlings returned to The Egg in November, even brandishing a different guitar, but it’s under Gil’s name that they still kill the hardest. “Revelator,” “The Way It Goes,” “Down Along the Dixie Line.” There is no greater Americana than this.

Amadou and Mariam, July 16, Music Haven, Schenectady
The king and queen of Malian guitar rock. The trance of the Velvet Underground with the bright colors of Henri Matisse. Essentially undescribable, but mesmerizing nonetheless. (Full disclosure, I work at the Music Haven).

King Crimson, November 8, The Egg, Albany
The first of two crushing nights of prog heaven. The mirth and menace of Robert Fripp are in full flower with his recent iterations of the band; it’s a joy to see Mel Collins still skronking after all these years; and the ferocious front line of drum sets reminds one why the proper term is battery.

King Crimson, November 9, The Egg, Albany
If one skosh less satisfying than the first night, still a stunning show — and both parts of “Lark’s Tongues!”

Shawn Colvin, November 10, The Egg, Albany
On the road with a band for the first time in years, playing A Few Small Repairs in its entirety. Sometimes I forget how huge Shawn Colvin is in my life; other times I remember. Would I have preferred Fat City front to back? Absolutely, but Zevon’s “Tenderness on the Block” in the encores was enough of a sweet treat, and the entire
show was lovely.

John Cale, November 18, BAM Howard Gilman Opera House, Brooklyn
Clearly, November was good to me. I chose the third of Cale’s nights in New York, opting for the birthday show instead of the Velvet Underground anniversary gigs. The reward was robust. After opening with a ten-minute drone, Cale attacked his oeuvre, proving that 75 is no good reason to sit still. The familiar stuff was twisted beyond recognition, and the new stuff was blazing. Cale remains brilliant, baffling and inspirational.

Richard Thompson, December 1, The Egg, Albany
I’ve seen Richard Thompson too many times to count, but this one, this one was special, and not just because he made me weep all the way through “Who Knows Where the Time Goes?”

Joe Henry, December 8, San Damiano Mission, Brooklyn
What. A. Band. Jay Bellerose, David Piltch, Patrick Warren and Levon Henry — the first bunch being first call studio kings, and the last being the singer’s own son (and, as such, Madonna’s nephew). Almost all of the new Thrum album, and key selections from the catalog, including the solo kickoff of “Trampoline” and the mind-altering encore of “Richard Pryor Addresses a Tearful Nation.” Not to mention the closer, with Rose Cousins, of Ray Price’s take on Kristofferson’s “For the Good Times.” Shiver me timbers, man. (Full disclosure, I have no objectivity when it comes to Joe Henry. None. Zero. Zilch.)

RUDY LU’S Top 12 Favorite Concerts
FRED RUDOFSKY’S Favorite 50 Albums of the Year
ED CONWAY’S Bakers’ Dozen Best Concerts
J HUNTER’S Best Jazz2K Releases (Part Deux)
DON WILCOCK’S Top 8 Blues Albums (And Year-End Rant)
WES SENECA’S Best Third Member of a Duo, Fourth Member of a Trio, Fifth Member of a Quartet…
STANLEY A. JOHNSON’S Top 12 (Or So) Live Music Performances
J HUNTER’S Best Jazz2K Releases (Part I)

1 Comment
  1. Richard Brody says

    Michael – RT got to me as well – both “Who Knows Where the Time Goes?” and “Beeswing” brought tears for different reasons. Do you think that you could convince him to put his version of “Who Knows…” on his next acoustic album.

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