Best Music of 2016: Concerts

There’s a bit of overlap where my best albums and best concerts of 2016 are concerned. And there are some old favorites, too.

John Mayall
Neighborhood Theatre, Charlotte NC
March 11, 2016
It was only around this time that I pivoted to writing as a full-time job (in other words, how I make my living). I interviewed Mayall twice around this time. Well into his 80s, he’s still a mightily impressive performer. Some months after this show, guitarist Rocky Athas exited the band, which is now a three-piece featuring Mayall on guitar. Good for him, but I’m convinced that the four-man show I saw was superior.

Steve Hackett
Symphony Hall, Atlanta GA
April 17, 2016
In recent years, the former Genesis guitarist has traded on the work he did back in the 1970s with that band. His concert – which featured Roine Stolt on bass – was split into two parts: one featuring his post-Genesis work, the other on that early 1970s music. Both were exceedingly enjoyable.

Brevard Sinfonia – Mozart and Wagner
Brevard Music Center, Brevard NC
July 2, 2016
With orchestra selections including Tristan und Isolde, all performed in the wonderful semi-indoor venue on the campus of BMC, this was an extraordinary treat. I don’t take in a lot of classical music, but this experience reminded me that I should make an effort to do so more often.


Brian Wilson – Pet Sounds Live Tour
Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, Asheville NC
August 18, 2016
Enough time has passed that I can admit the obvious: Brian Wilson can be a problematic interview subject! He’s often on autopilot for those things. And as a performer, he looks as if he’d sooner be anywhere else but onstage (he was the same way at soundcheck). But his music is transcendent, and his band is stunning. (And I’m deeply honored to have had the opportunity to interview and meet him, however briefly.) His presence at the concert didn’t make any kind of musical difference, but it allowed those of us who love his music to shower him with gratitude. Fair enough.


Anderson Rabin & Wakeman
Durham Performing Arts Center, Durham NC
October 9, 2016
I had the pleasure of interviewing both Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman ahead of this tour. I had seen Anderson with Yes way back in the 90125 era, but never Wakeman. A superb show that leveraged their deep catalog of work together.


Fantastic Negrito – The Last Days of Oakland Tour
Asheville Music Hall, Asheville NC
October 16, 2016
One of the most fascinating people I’ve ever interviewed, and one hell of a concert. I’ll remember this one for a long time. My wife and I had driven home form visiting family; we had been in the car 12 hours and were exhausted, but we still went out to this late-night show. It was the right decision.


Esperanza Spalding – Emily’s D+Evolution Tour
The Orange Peel, Asheville NC
October 20, 2016
Like nothing I’ve ever heard nor seen, Spalding’s show was truly odd, truly original and truly awe-inspiring. I’m keen to find out how she follows up the stunning Emily’s D+Evolution; I have every confidence that it will be remarkable.


Mike Mills – Concerto for Violin, Rock Band and String Orchestra
Newberry Opera House, Newberry SC
October 25, 2016
It’s always the quiet ones! Who could have ever expected that the R.E.M. bassist would make a musical excursion into orchestral music? His Concerto is one of the most effective hybrids of the two musical forms I’ve ever witnessed. And I saw Electric Light Orchestra in concert!


Sweet Claudette – Whiskey Drunk on Puppy Love Album Release Party
The Mothlight, Asheville NC
November 4, 2016
The only local act on my list, Sweet Claudette deserve big-time fame. They combine an Americana musical foundation with Motown/Stax arrangements, and top-notch four-part vocal arrangements. I rarely interview four people at once, but I did in their case, and it made for one of my most enjoyable interviews.


Steven Wilson – Hand. Cannot. Erase. Tour
Center Stage Theatre, Atlanta GA
November 17, 2016
I’ve followed Wilson’s career for nearly a decade now. He never disappoints, and his most recent album may be his best yet. Wilson was kind enough to make himself available for a last-minute scheduled interview while he was on tour in Brisbane, Australia. When he came ’round my part of the world a couple of weeks later, I had to go. He and his band gave it all they had, playing nearly two and a half hours.