Flashback Friday: 5 Shows I Would Flash Back To

What do we look for when we go to concerts? Does it depend on the artist or genre? Is it just a matter of wanting to hear some good music, played live? Or are we hoping to be part of something? I think there’s a lot to be said for the importance we put on saying we were there. It’s a chance at vicarious immortality, maybe. I don’t know. But whether or not that show, that moment, will be historically relevant is no guarantee, so that may not be it at all. All I know is there is something about the energy at a good live show, when the performers are on top of their game and the audience is right there with them and it’s the perfect venue. History or not, there are some artists that make me wish I had a time machine. And I’m not even talking big events like



or what have you. I love Hendrix, but a big festival event is just not my thing. I tend to like intimacy.

Before they were the mop topped boy band pop stars that made all the young girls scream over their music, they were savage. They were young. They were somewhat dangerous, playing small clubs in


, like the

Cavern Club

. Those are the


I would hop into

Doc Brown’s Delorean

to see. Leather. Boots. Crowded nightclubs on sketchy English streets. That’s how I imagine it, anyway. I’d probably stick around this era for a while and maybe follow them to


where they developed their skills further. That vibe is something I think would need to be lived to be understood.

Best live album of all time, if you ask me, is

James Brown’s

Live at the Apollo Vol II

. Sure, I could easily switch this out with volume I, but that one was a bit earlier in his career. Volume II was recorded in 1967, arguably, his prime. All one has to do is listen to side 2 of this double album to understand what the fuss was about. That nearly 15 minute medley/jam of

Let Yourself Go

There Was a Time


I Feel Alright

leading into

Cold Sweat

is what


is all about. I can only imagine the way the bass must have been hitting that crowd in the chest, in the gut, in the soul. That’s the show I’d most want to be at, all sweaty and lost in the groove. I’m not putting this list in any particular order, but this would likely be number one.

Growing up I was constantly hearing stories about how great


was back in the day. These were stories that usually involved music and nightclubs and chief among them was

Benny Moré

. It may just be in my blood to be a fan of the greatest Cuban big band singer of all time, but beyond that, his talent, energy and charisma just can’t be denied. It all comes through in his music. Big arrangements, large voice and improvisational

Cuban Son

eventually influenced


, but this was more in line with

Cab Calloway

style nightclub swing. Yet, as all Cuban music does, it has a country flair as well. Benny brought that to the high class clubs of

Havana, Mexico

and eventually back to Havana. Like the


, he went to another country to hone his skills, playing with the likes of

Pérez Prado

. When he returned, he was larger than life. I don’t even know what era or show of his I’d like to visit, but pretty much any would do.

Rock n Roll

, at it’s most basic, is equal parts rebellion, danger and sex. Early

punk rock

, for the most part got it right, at the right time, except for the sex. Mostly, punk replaced that with anger, which also works. But then along came


, with a front woman who not only brought the sexy, but kept the tough, the danger, the rebellion and the power.

Debbie Harry

was the model for countless others from




, but none of them come close. It helps that


, as they liked to remind people, was a band, and not just Debbie. It wasn’t about her. Well, not


about her. It was about the music and those early records are up there with anything else from the period. So, I’d want to see them before they completely blew up. This is pre

Call Me


Heart of Glass




started doing


in the late 80s, I immediately thought of one thing:


. His

Comeback Special

, particularly the sit down portion of the show, is legendary. It’s impossible to not think of this when you see any episode of Unplugged. I first saw the special, thanks to my uncle who was an


fanatic and had it on VHS. He had all of the concert films, but his one I played to death.


and his band, sitting around with guitars, just jamming, apparently whatever came to mind. All the old classics from

One Night


Trying to Get to You

sung by the King, in his prime, away from the screaming and the chaos, just stripped down and raw. That’s rock’n’roll, baby!  It turns out the show was taped 4 times, with different audiences each time, over one night. I guess I’d be ok with being in just one of those audiences, but really, I’d try to pay someone off and stay the whole time.

So if any of you have a

flux capacitor

handy, let me know. In the meantime, what shows would you go back in time for?