There's something magical about live music done well. I'm not talking about flashy shows with lights and special effects and backing tracks to hide the fact that the musicians are sloppy and the singer's voice is lacking. I'm talking about shows - whether in a small club or a huge arena -where the musicians are talented and tight and the singer actually has a singing voice that survives outside the studio. I've been to many shows where I was disappointed with the quality of the live performance but I've been to just as many where I've walked away energized by the display of sheer talent.
I can't pick a favourite concert, just like I can't pick a favourite band. I love them or appreciate them for different reasons. Taking my dad to see Willie Nelson, after being raised on Willie's music, meant the world to me and I don't even like country music (though I make exceptions for Willie Nelson and the Highwaymen); Seeing Wolfmother play in 2006 in a tiny club (that has now been torn down to make room for a highrise) before they became well-known, standing inches from the stage as they rocked their hearts out; Spending three days at the Isle of Wight Festival 2005 but specifically, shivering in a field on a cold summer's night with the people who made England home for me, dancing to Faithless before stumbling back to our tent; Being blown away by Muse's musical genius and live performance; Watching Shawn live his dream of playing the Commodore when he opened for Steel Panther this year.
And now, watching Slash play the Commodore. It was loud and gritty and so rad that there aren't really words to describe it. Slash is a monster. He's a machine. About 2/3 of the way through the set, he played a guitar solo that had the crowd enthralled. It was long - easily 5 minutes but probably longer - and was ridiculous, self-indulgent, and amazing and as it came to an end he segued into "Sweet Child O' Mine" and the crowd went insane. Slash was awesome but the other musicians were equally excellent. Myles Kennedy and Todd Kerns harmonizing on Starlight was probably the best live vocal performance I've ever heard.
It was a fabulous concert, not just because of the talent but also the vibe of the crowd, the impressive air guitar performed by Shawn and his brother, and the poutine nightcap. It was exactly what my soul needed.