The best St. Louis concerts of 2011
The best St. Louis concerts of 2011
Special to Metromix
This is always a little tough to do because A) I didn't go to every awesome show in St. Louis in 2011 and B) I'm always worried that I'm forgetting something wonderful I was able to see. And, of course, we've still got a month to go. But anyway. I'm taking a stab at this once again while my mind is still clear and not clouded by holiday stress, shopping, chocolate consumption and/or eggnog (that is, if I actually drank eggnog).
Just missing the cut were Gillian Welch, Ha Ha Tonka, Old Lights, Fleet Foxes, Mates of State, Katie Herzig and LouFest. And when those heavy hitters miss the cut, well, you know it's been a great year.
Away we go...this time in no particular order.
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals (The Pageant)
If you're on the fence about Grace Potter, all you need to do is see her live with her band, The Nocturnals. You'll find a band who can match Potter's energy during songs like "Oasis" and "Medicine," the latter being what they closed with at The Pageant. Potter walked off the stage near the end of the song, but then sprinted back on to shout one last line: "I've got the medicine that everybody wants." Truer words have never been spoken at The Pageant, I can promise you that.
U2 (Busch Stadium)
Not the biggest U2 fan in the world, but that didn't matter on this night, as Bono and Co. rocked Busch Stadium from the opening "Even Better Than the Real Thing." Their stage, dubbed "The Claw," was extravagant, with lasers, lights and video, but the music was what really made this evening memorable, especially when they dusted off "Where the Streets Have No Name" near the end. (Photos of the show)
Wilco (The Peabody Opera House)
My first trip to the re-opened Peabody Opera House, and it was just about perfect. Wilco opened with "One Sunday Morning" off their latest album, 'The Whole Love,' and closed with a few nods to St. Louis ("Casino Queen" and "Heavy Metal Drummer"). Jeff Tweedy and Co. even busted out "New Madrid," an old Uncle Tupelo tune. 'Twas a great homecoming. (Photos of the show)
Bon Iver (The Pageant)
Justin Vernon of Bon Iver commanded every soul in the room on this night with his extravagant sound and nine-piece band. Jumping ouf of the gates with the booming "Perth," Vernon later was by himself on stage singing "Re: Stacks," and finally, during the encore, sitting on a stool, leading us in a "Skinny Love" sing-a-long. A near-perfect performance. (Photos of the show)
Lucinda Williams (The Pageant)
The critically-lauded songwriter from Lousiana opened with "Can't Let Go," and right then you knew—this was going to be special. Williams played for over two hours, blazing through her back catalog, even finding the time to cover Bob Dylan and Buffalo Springfield. Quite a night from the legend.
Tift Merritt (The Old Rock House)
Even though she was the opening act and only played for 45 minutes or so, I'm including Tift here because I'm not sure if there was a more perfect solo performance I've seen this year. She played new, unrecorded material, and older songs like "Another Country," "Good Hearted Man" and "Something To Me." I hope she comes back in 2012.
Arcade Fire (Scottrade Center)
As impressive as The National was (who opened the show), this was Arcade Fire's night to finally shine in St. Louis. Even though it was at the Scottrade Center, it still felt intimate on the floor, especially during "Wake Up," when thousands of us sang along. A great moment. (Photos of the show)
Josh Ritter and the Royal City Band (Off Broadway)
The A/C wasn't working, but Josh Ritter and the Royal City Band didn't care. They played a full set, drenched in sweat, and Ritter even led us in a "protozoan slow dance" during "Kathleen." The most amazing moments were the softest: singing with Ritter, sans house lights, to "In The Dark," and singing with him again to the end of "Change of Time."
Eddie Vedder (The Fox Theatre)
No Pearl Jam? No problem. Vedder's voice was perfect on this night, as he gave us many gems like "Thumbing My Way," "Better Man," "Last Kiss" and "Porch." Glen Hansard of the Swell Season even joined him during the encore for a beautiful "Falling Slowly." (Full review of the show)
My Morning Jacket (The Pageant)
Yes, it was loud. And yes, Jim James has better dance moves than you. He showed them on the opening "Victory Dance," and he shook it even further during the closing "One Big Holiday." The two-plus hour performance left thousands of ears ringing, but there were also many smiles. Oh yes, there were smiles. (Photos of the show)