Preston Frazier’s Best of 2014 (Concerts): St. Vincent, Seth Walker, Yes, Brownout

Share this:

Over the last five years, it has not been uncommon for me to attend as many as 30 concerts in any given year. At the start for 2014, however, I decided to retire from seeing live music.

The reason for this decision was largely based on two things: There’s no one I really want to see who I haven’t seen already — except for Led Zeppelin, and we know how unlikely that is. Also, I don’t particularly like people, and that makes going to a concert problematic.

What a surprise then to discover I saw 32 concerts this year! Sure, some were artists I know and love (Steely Dan, Yes, Fleetwood Mac, Jackson Browne) but a few were first timers for me (La Santa Cecelia, Cracker, Leon Russell, Oz Noy, Queen + Adam Lambert. Here are my Top 5 …

No. 5 — BROWNOUT, AUGUST 13, 2014, DOUBLE DOOR in CHICAGO: On any given day Brownout is a powerhouse. Add in a set that includes every song from their album, Brownout Presents Brown Sabbath and they are an unstoppable beginning for my Best of 2014 list.

No. 4 — JUDITH OWEN, MAY 2014, SPACE in EVANSTON, ILL.: Who’s Judith Owen, and why is she so good? I’d heard of the singer-songwriter before, but was captivated by her 2014 release Ebb and Flow. On this night, it was just Judith, bass legend Leland Sklar (who also contributed vocals) and percussionist Pedro Segundro — yet they played every song from the new release, drawing in the audience and never letting us go.

No. 3 — YES, JULY 26, 2014, COPERNICUS CENTER in CHICAGO: The answer is Yes! Their latest album Heaven and Earth received mixed reviews, but there is no denying this was a Best of 2014 show. Having seen two other lead vocalists of the band, I was surprised at how effectively Jon Davison was able to revitalize the songs from Close to The Edge and Fragile. Additionally, Chris Squire, Steve Howe, Alan White and Geoff Downes were able to transform the two numbers from the new album and infuse their high level of musicality into them. The tour found Yes near the height of its musical power.

No. 2 — SETH WALKER, MAY 28, 2014, SPACE in EVANSTON, ILL.: Having seen Walker as an opening act, I was well aware of his power as a singer and guitarist. This show, where he was augmented with a bassist and drummer, was a transcending moment. He played most of the cuts from his 2014 release Sky Still Blue, making his hollow-bodied electric soar. Walker is an effective storyteller, able to draw the listener in with his lyrics and slide the knife in with his playing. Truly, I hope there are “more days like this.”

ST. VINCENT, APRIL 5, 2014, RIVIERA THEATRE in CHICAGO: You like guitar playing? Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent) delivers in this Best of 2014 show. You like choreography? St. Vincent and her three-piece band also delivers. A stage production with seizure-inducing lighting? Absolutely. The show was subtle, yet had spectacle. The minimalistic design was stunning, and the fact the St. Vincent can play her blues-infused rock licks and solos so effortlessly is astounding. Oh, and she also has songs! St. Vincent’s self-titled release was stellar. Hard to believe her tour exceeded it in excellence.

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier is a bass-playing lawyer living in Atlanta. His first Steely Dan exposure was with an eight-track cassette of 'Pretzel Logic.' He can be reached at [email protected]; follow him on Twitter: @slangofages. Contact Something Else! at [email protected]
Preston Frazier
Share this:
Close