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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
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A look at the Top 10 (ish) favorite Atlanta concerts of 2011

Having the opportunity to attend 40-plus shows in 2011 is something I view as a privilege. All of the downloaded songs on the planet can’t compare with a live concert, from the second the lights snap off to the final encore.

As with any list, it’s tough narrowing anything you love down to just a few. This one, of my favorite 10 concerts of 2011, could just as easily included Cyndi Lauper at Cobb Energy Center, Paul Simon at Chastain, Keith Urban at Gwinnett Arena, Bruno Mars and Janelle Monae at the Fox or yes, even the NKOTBSB reunion at Philips – a blast of a show that perfectly targeted its demographic.

So now that I’ve shown you mine, it’s time for you to share your favorite shows of the year in the comments section. As always, let’s please keep the discussion about music and play nice.

Sade's first tour in a decade was mesmerizing. Photo: Kevin Mazur

Sade's first tour in a decade was mesmerizing. Photo: Kevin Mazur

1. Sade


July at Philips Arena

It took a decade for Sade to return to the stage, and her captivating two-night stand at Philips proved her vintage perfection. The woman exudes class, further demonstrated in a stage show that shimmered with sleek production tricks. And then there is that buttery smooth voice, a sensual instrument that cradled her catalog of jazzy pop tunes, from “Your Love is King” to the ubiquitous “Smooth Operator.” At times seductive and gently playful, Sade simply soared.

Original review: http://blogs.ajc.com/atlanta-music-scene/2011/07/13/sade-captivates-with-sensuous-show/

2. O.M.D.

March at The Loft at Center Stage

It didn’t matter that Andy McCluskey only had about eight feet of space to flail around in at the cozy Loft – the O.M.D. frontman utilized every inch and, along with fellow original Paul Humphreys, took fans on a nostalgic journey. The New Wave faves stormed through their sumptuous ‘80s hits – “Telsa Girls,” “So In Love,” “Dreaming” – cheerfully played the obligatory “If You Leave,” and added some of the excellent new tunes from 2010’s “History of Modern,” the band’s first new material since 1986…and also the last time it toured the U.S. Is it time for an encore yet?

Original review: http://blogs.ajc.com/atlanta-music-scene/2011/03/15/o-m-d-deftly-blends-nostalgia-with-new-at-loft-show/

Duran Duran's John Taylor (left) and Simon LeBon dazzled at an intimate Center Stage show. Photo: Robb Cohen

Duran Duran's John Taylor (left) and Simon LeBon dazzled at an intimate Center Stage show. Photo: Robb Cohen

3. Duran Duran

April at Center Stage

With the spring release of its 13th album, “All You Need is Now,” Duran Duran proved that it’s still capable of constructing awesomely layered pop songs, fueled by John Taylor’s racing bass lines and singer Simon LeBon’s distinctive phrasing. At this intimate Center Stage gig – which sold out in minutes – the band (with originals Roger Taylor on drums and Nick Rhodes on keyboards) unleashed a solid set list that was both musically crisp and playfully loose, a sweaty combination of reminiscing and celebrating the new. Their October return at Chastain Park wasn’t quite as visceral, but this powerhouse showing was tough to top.

Original review: http://blogs.ajc.com/atlanta-music-scene/2011/04/05/duran-duran-robust-and-rugged-at-center-stage-concert/

4. Lady Gaga

April at Gwinnett Arena

Her Gaga-ness has forged a lucrative career by being outrageous, but the most memorable moments of her “Monster’s Ball” stop in Gwinnett were when she unveiled a stripped, dance-free version of “Born This Way” and debuted the Elton John-like “You and I,” her gutsiest song to date. Sure, there were dancers and costumes and inflatables throughout the show – and a lot of preaching about being yourself — but Gaga’s strongest asset is her scorching voice. How about an album of piano ballads next, Lady G?

Original review: http://blogs.ajc.com/atlanta-music-scene/2011/04/19/lady-gaga-proves-shes-no-wannabe/

5. Jay Z and Kanye West

October at Philips Arena

The rap titans kicked off their “Watch the Throne” tour with a pair of nearly sold out shows, a multimedia feast and enough songs to satisfy even the whiniest fan. This shared outing was to hip-hop fans what the joint tours of Elton John and Billy Joel have been to middle-aged suburbanites: Bliss. In a show both exhausting and entertaining, Hova and Yeezy zipped through their arsenal together and separately, proving their unlikely compatibility.

Original review: http://blogs.ajc.com/atlanta-music-scene/2011/10/29/jay-zkanye-west-exhaust-and-entertain-at-tour-kickoff/

Coldplay guitarist Jonny Buckland (left) and Chris Martin helped usher in the return of Music Midtown. Photo: Max Blau

Coldplay guitarist Jonny Buckland (left) and Chris Martin helped usher in the return of Music Midtown. Photo: Max Blau

6. Coldplay

September at Piedmont Park (Music Midtown)

The return of Music Midtown was capped by a band that has morphed into a stellar live act. Chris Martin was an amusing sight, bopping from his graffiti-sprayed piano to the mic stand to scooping up an acoustic guitar. Coldplay’s set – one of its few since a triumphant Glastonbury — was laced with lasers, frenetic lighting and songs ranging from the anthemic “Viva La Vida” to the mellow “Yellow” and funky new “Hurts Like Heaven.” Yes, the word funky was just used to describe a Coldplay song. Hopefully the band’s Atlanta return – July 2 at Philips Arena – will be this crisp.

Original review: http://blogs.ajc.com/atlanta-music-scene/2011/09/25/coldplay-honors-r-e-m-at-music-midtown/

7. Patti Lupone

May at Symphony Hall

The Broadway spitfire paired with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra for her “Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda” show, and despite it being a scripted affair, the saucy Lupone injected plenty of wry humor and personal details to keep the show lively. Not that there is any fear of slumping during a Lupone performance. Who could do anything but gape in amazement when she razzle-dazzled her way through “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” and “Don’t Rain on My Parade”? But the most memorable moment of the show came at the end, when Lupone sang, a capella and unmiked, “A Hundred Years From Today,” from the 1933 Broadway show, “Blackbirds.” Chilling and gorgeous.

Original review: http://blogs.ajc.com/atlanta-music-scene/2011/05/28/patti-lupone-soars-despite-sniffles/

Regardless of criticism, Jon Bon Jovi is one of rock's most enduring and entertaining frontmen.  Photo: Raymond Hagans

Regardless of criticism, Jon Bon Jovi is one of rock's most enduring and entertaining frontmen. Photo: Raymond Hagans

8. Bon Jovi

May at Philips Arena

Yeah, yeah, yeah, so they’re soulless, middling rockers with a frontman ready to preen for anything from an Advil commercial to a high-end fashion magazine. But frankly, the Bon Jovi criticisms are not only tiresome, but silly. Watch this band – steered by the indefatigable Jon Bon Jovi – work a crowd, exhaust themselves into a puddle of sweat onstage, and guide 20,000 fans through 30 years of hits and then talk to me.

Original review: http://blogs.ajc.com/atlanta-music-scene/2011/05/15/bon-jovi-sweaty-energetic-people-pleasing-rockers/

9. Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith

July at Chastain Park Ampthitheatre

For longtime followers of Grant and Smith, the idea of the two old friends sharing a stage for the first time in 20 years was nirvana. And live, the pair’s easy rapport with each other was palpable. During an evening of horrific heat, Grant, who graciously accepted a glass of white wine from a concertgoer, and the eternally handsome Smith glided through songs together (“Stay for Awhile,” “Find a Way,” “Lead Me On,” “Faithless Heart”) and performed their own hits-filled sets. It was a soothing, comfortable music experience during the most uncomfortable weather.

Original review: http://blogs.ajc.com/atlanta-music-scene/2011/07/30/amy-grant-and-michael-w-smith-share-their-music-friendship/

10. (tie) Brian Wilson

August at Chastain Park Ampthitheatre

It’s true that Brian Wilson can look a bit vacant onstage and often sings his most famous songs with a clipped delivery. But that really didn’t diminish the inherent prettiness and sweet melodies of so many of his songs, such as “When I Grow Up (To Be a Man)”, “Don’t Worry Baby” and the gorgeously complex “God Only Knows.” The reason these songs still sound phenomenal is because Wilson is backed by an amazing nine-piece band capable of playing the surf’s-up froth of “California Girls” as easily as recreating the sweeping harmonies of “Heroes and Villains.”

Original review: http://blogs.ajc.com/atlanta-music-scene/2011/08/04/brian-wilson-anchors-night-of-perfectly-executed-nostalgia/

Roger Daltrey

Roger Daltrey wallops his way through The Who's "Tommy," played in its entirety. Photo: Robb Cohen

Roger Daltrey wallops his way through The Who's "Tommy," played in its entirety. Photo: Robb Cohen

September at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park

On a tour designed to showcase “Tommy,” The Who’s acclaimed rock opera, Daltrey and his thundering band – including Pete Townshend’s younger brother Simon on guitar – whipped through some of the most famous songs in rock history with sleek muscularity. Daltrey’s voice sounded robust throughout the show, whether on “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” or, post-“Tommy” performance, “Behind Blue Eyes.” Always a pleasure to see a legend still enjoying himself.

Original review: http://blogs.ajc.com/atlanta-music-scene/2011/09/16/roger-daltrey-band-electrify-with-resurrected-tommy/

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134 comments Add your comment

Scott

December 28th, 2011
7:14 pm

Alice Cooper at Cobb Energy and Aussie Pink Floyd at the Fox.

Karen

December 28th, 2011
7:14 pm

None of the above – Incubus at Verizon Wireless – totally rocked!

queen

December 28th, 2011
8:24 pm

Mary J Blige…enough said

Mrsbanks72

December 28th, 2011
8:46 pm

Jill Scott, Anthony Hamilton & Doug E Fresh @ Chastain!!! Summer Block Party was an amazing show!

brock

December 28th, 2011
8:50 pm

Robert Plant and the Band of Joy at the Fox was my favorite. Tedeschi Trucks Band at Chastain was first runner-up. Furthur at the Fox comes in third. Liked Daltrey too.

STICKY

December 28th, 2011
8:57 pm

1) EDDIE MONEY AT WILD BILL’S!

Joe

December 28th, 2011
8:58 pm

It’s sad and depressing to read about the decline of movie box office takes and then read this drivel about a bunch of garbage music. This country is in a total cultural vacuum of suck.

Duran Duran? Bon Jovi? These were just-above-mediocre bands when at their peaks, and somehow, 20+ years later, they are still among the best acts around?

What I would give to be able to go back and see the Allman Brothers, James Brown, Jimi Hendrix or Marvin Gaye in the early 70’s. Seems like most of the greatness has all been used up.

STICKY

December 28th, 2011
8:58 pm

2) BUBBA SPARXXX AT DIAMOND DAVE’S

brock

December 28th, 2011
9:01 pm

I also appreciate the AJC doing concert reviews this year, as it seems like a lost art.

Melissa, pls check your links, the last 3 (the only ones I checked) go nowhere.

Nona

December 28th, 2011
9:01 pm

What Joe said.

Gresham Brown

December 28th, 2011
9:04 pm

Hey Joe, where you going with that gun in your hand?

jimmy h

December 28th, 2011
9:12 pm

Guster @ Tabernacle, Ben Harper @ Tabernacle, The Wall@Phillips….

Candle

December 28th, 2011
9:13 pm

Foster the People at the Masquerade or Tom Petty at Phillips.

brock

December 28th, 2011
9:15 pm

Joe, Duane Allman, Marvin Gaye, James Brown and Jimi are all dead, sadly. But you’re not (apparently). Who DID you see?

Falcon Josh

December 28th, 2011
9:28 pm

Well said Joe!

KOOL

December 28th, 2011
9:37 pm

Guns n Roses at Phillips Arena in November = best concert I’ve attended. Ever.

Axl Rose killed it that night.

Barry

December 28th, 2011
9:43 pm

Foo Fighters at the Gwinnett Center blew ‘em all away. Phenomenal show.

Jim

December 28th, 2011
10:00 pm

Keith Urban at Gwinnett Arena with Jake Owen as opening act. Not sure how your missed this one. If you have ever seen Keith live, he is an incredible performer who puts on a full blown show of 2 1/2 hours. He plays his last song with as much energy as his first!

Geoff

December 28th, 2011
10:06 pm

FOO Fighters in Gwinnett, Erasure at Center Stage, Duran Duran at Chastain, B52s at Turner Field after Braves game(kidding) It was terrible.

Biff Pocoroba

December 28th, 2011
10:07 pm

Mumford and Sons at the Fox.

no no no

December 28th, 2011
10:18 pm

SEPULTURA !!!!

and DOWN !!!

TEXAS

December 28th, 2011
10:26 pm

TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA

Melissa Ruggieri

December 28th, 2011
10:29 pm

Brock – thanks for the heads-up about the links. Not sure why they weren’t working, but they should be now!

Jim – Keith Urban just missed my list, too. I did see that show and he is a terrific live performer and underrated musician.

Atlantan

December 28th, 2011
10:34 pm

@Melissa – you must’ve missed Mumford & Sons at The Fox in June. They were awesome – one of the best concerts I’ve been to in years. They were engaging with the audience, sounded better live than recorded – even their new stuff sounded great. I can’t wait to see them again.

Karen

December 28th, 2011
10:41 pm

Sugarland at Philips in Oct.

J.Bebe

December 28th, 2011
10:45 pm

Foo Fighters at Gwinnett by far the best. One of the best shows I’ve ever been to and I’ve been going to concerts since 81. A really talented group of musicians who truly love to play music. They started on time and played for almost three hours. I’ll take that over a 20 minute guitar solo any day.

[...] from: A look at the Top 10 (ish) favorite Atlanta concerts of 2011 | Atlanta … This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged designed, duran-duran, lines-and, simon, [...]

bigdawg

December 28th, 2011
11:18 pm

Further at the FOX Theater, and Todd Rundgren at Center Stage!

bigdawg

December 28th, 2011
11:21 pm

BTW, Further got no ink in the AJC…no photos, no story – they weren’t even listed in the concert calendar for April 3. EPIC FAIL by our parochial fishwrap!

Gary B.

December 28th, 2011
11:34 pm

Ledisi at Atlanta Symphony Hall

LM

December 28th, 2011
11:47 pm

I realize Butch Walker isn’t Top 40 like a lot of these artists, but he is insanely amazing live. He and the Black Widows put on a spectacular show in October.

Joe's Wright

December 29th, 2011
12:34 am

Joe is right – are things really this bad that Duran Duran, OMD, and Roger Daltrey make the AJC’s best concerts of the year list in 2011? Just call the list – “Best Concerts I Got Free Passes to that weren’t half-bad” and it will be an accurate list.

Joe's an idiot

December 29th, 2011
12:38 am

Joe, Do a little research and see how many tour and album sales Bon Jovi has. Look at all the hits.
Allman Brothers??? YAWN

Austin

December 29th, 2011
12:53 am

Trans-Siberian Orchestra at Philips – Billboard named them one of the top touring concerts of the decade.

Reba and The Band Perry at Gwinnett – I mean, it’s freakin Reba! And the Band Perry, while I’m not a fan, turned out 10,000 people for their solo concert at the state fair.

Walter

December 29th, 2011
1:08 am

Come on now, King of Leon, Band of Horses, Last show before the Dallas meltdown, Epic

Melissa Ruggieri

December 29th, 2011
1:15 am

Joe – you’re welcome to post your own picks for the best shows you saw here this year.

Atlantan — unfortunately, I was out of town for Mumford, so I did indeed miss what I heard from many people was a great show.

Tee Hee

December 29th, 2011
1:19 am

I don’t even know where to start. So you are saying that out of all the amazing shows in the ATL in the last year that Bon Jovi, Amy Grant, OMD, Duran Duran and Brian Wilson top your list? What are you, like 60 years old?! Try checking out a shows at Variety, Tab, Smith’s or Masquerade or better yet, ask your kids what they liked last year. zzzzz

Chuck

December 29th, 2011
2:49 am

Brian Wilson at Chastain was hands down the best. When you combine quality of material with musicianship of the band, there currently isn’t a finer band on the planet!
Other great shows in no particular order:
Roger Daltrey, Billy Joe Shaver at Smith’s, NRBQ(Terry Adams and three ‘new’ guys)at Smith’s, Uriah Heep at Variety Playhouse,Todd Rundgren at Centerstage, Furthur at The Fox, Tony Bennett at The Fox(they finally got him away from dang Chastain), Janelle Monae at The Fox, Susan Cowsill Band at Eddie’s Attic(technically end of 2010).
Here’s hoping that we get my favorite two acts I saw away from Atlanta this year, Paul McCartney-Wrigley Field and Buffalo Springfield-Oakland Fox, in town this year…and for McCartney, in a suitable venue this time.

TS

December 29th, 2011
3:10 am

Hey Melissa,
I was wondering why Taylor Swift wasn’t included on this list. Just curious. Thanks!

Elle

December 29th, 2011
3:23 am

Steely Dan @ Chastain <3, Cake @ Center Stage

Crude

December 29th, 2011
3:51 am

Guns N’ Roses at Philips Arena. One of the best concerts I’ve ever seen. MUCH better than their original lineup in 1987, when they were banned from the Omni/Atlanta. I was at that concert too.

Jeff Sexton

December 29th, 2011
5:11 am

The only ATL concert I went to this year – and actually, the ONLY concert I went to this year: Toby Keith with Eric Church, October at Lakewood. First time I heard Keith’s current hit “Red Solo Cup”, and I stand by what I said to my wife during that song: STUPIDEST song you’ve ever heard – and that is EXACTLY what makes it perhaps one of the GREATEST.

shaggy

December 29th, 2011
6:24 am

Joe is right.
The difference in the greats he named and this “best of 2011″ list is those greats were players, honed their craft to excellence. This list is made up of “performers” whose craft is looks and show; the music is secondary. The music scene of today is largely made up of hollow “performers”, because that is what their vacant fans support and call music. Sure, right…I’m gonna run out an lay out cash for that gaga crap. I would rather beat my fingers with a hammer.

“Joe’s an Idiot”:
If you yawn at Duane Allman’s playing in the early 70’s and think Non Bovi is better, you probably take your pet rock out, and play with it regularly. You are beyond help.

'tertnmnt2012

December 29th, 2011
6:57 am

The reviewer highlighted only some of the ‘real’ talent that appeared in Atl as opposed to….nuff said!

CC

December 29th, 2011
7:04 am

Kid Rock & Sheryl Crow @ Aaron’s or Lakewood whatever it’s called today. Besides this time he didn’t get into a fight at Waffle House afterwards.

Craig

December 29th, 2011
7:35 am

Tony Bennett @ the Fox theatre. Lush sound and EXCELLENT vocals even if he is 85 years old. Ive been to 60-70 concerts in my lifetime and he stands out as one of the best.

Elle

December 29th, 2011
7:35 am

Incognito and Mesa at Cobb Energy Center. Fantastic show!!

KeepDreaming

December 29th, 2011
7:55 am

Roger Waters performing the Wall live at Philips was pretty amazing!!

Jim Adams

December 29th, 2011
8:22 am

Josh Ritter at the Variety!

Granite

December 29th, 2011
8:27 am

Here are my killer shows not on the list (in no particular order):

1) Ray Davies at CenterStage
2) Trombone Shorty at CenterStage
3) Ian MacLagan at Smith’s