It’s going to be kind of a slow day at The Second Disc, as your roving reporter has tickets to see a-ha play to a sold-out crowd in New York City. Their Ending on a High Note Tour has been a top draw for ’80s pop fans, but it’s also led to a lot of thought concerning concerts and what they mean to us – not just as a reissue fan, but as a lover of music in general.
While The Second Disc may be a haven for all the expanded and remastered news and commentary you can shake your SACD player at, I can’t overstate how much joy there is in buying a ticket to a live venue and coming back with great stories and memories for years to come. Personally, in my six years of going to concerts, there isn’t a show I’ve gone to where I’ve come back just shrugging my shoulders.
And in those six years, I’ve been particularly lucky. In 2006, I was able to attend the last of 12 sold-out Madison Square Garden dates for Billy Joel – a venue record for one tour that earned him his own number hanging above the rafters. His set list was fantastic, avoiding the typical hits-revue fare of his fellow vintage acts (Elton John, I’m looking at you) and drawing from album cuts from favorites Glass Houses and The Nylon Curtain. (It’s also the only show I’ve been to that was ever partially commercially released through the great 12 Gardens Live double-disc set from that summer).
Then there was The Police. My favorite band in high school, and a group that had been defunct since the 1980s. If you told my 16-year-old self not only that Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland would reunite but that I would catch them twice, I might have fainted.
Those are but a few stories in the patchwork of my musical life. It’s hoped that you, the reader, are smiling as you read this and think of your own experiences. Little things like being able to stay out late to see your favorite band, buying your first beer, taking off from work to get to that show extra-early and getting lost on the way home and laughing about it with friends all those years later.
We all hear stories about how our beloved record industry is dying. But how can you catch a great live show and not see anything but life itself? The Second Disc will always be devoted to the preservation of ideas on a record, their history and meaning – but we would be remiss if we didn’t implore you to make some memories at a concert every once in awhile. Together, our experiences make up the best of the gifts music has to offer us.
Friends: what are your favorite live musical memories? Which acts would you love to see hit the road? Ever seen a gig caught on tape later on? Share your stories here!