Some years, it’s a snap to compile my annual list of favorite concerts.
Others, I ponder my recollections to the point of procrastination.
Yep, 2019 was one of those.
During the past year I averaged a couple of concerts per week – our myriad festivals provided an avalanche of performances as well – so narrowing to a list of 10 is always a challenge.
I didn’t include any of the Super Bowl concerts for one reason: as much as I reveled in the still-electrifying rock ‘n’ roll of Aerosmith and appreciated the eardrum-blowing sweat-fest provided by the Foo Fighters, I was simply too exhausted during that insane week to truly enjoy anything.
So, with those exceptions, here is my overly contemplated list (you can read the full concert reviews in the hyperlinks). Surely you will have your own opinions — and feel free to share them with me at firstname.lastname@example.org or in the comments section on Facebook.
10. Panic! At the Disco (pictured above, Sept. 14 at Music Midtown): Even though the band is essentially frontman Brendon Urie, he makes sure to pack the stage with ace musicians (including an incredible horn section) and a geyser of theatricality. Panic! might have some of the most dopily ponderous song titles in modern pop, but there is no denying the songcraft – thrillingly presented live – of “LA Devotee,” “Nine in the Afternoon” and “I Write Sins Not Tragedies.”
9. The Struts (May 4 at Shaky Knees Music Festival): Combining the flamboyance of Freddie Mercury, the catchy stomp-rock of Mutt Lange-era Def Leppard and a dash of Slade and T. Rex, the British quartet – led by the vibrant Luke Spiller – makes sure you’ll sweat your mascara off at their interactive live shows.
8. Shawn Mendes (July 31 at State Farm Arena): He’s a young hunk, no doubt, with his chiseled grin and floppy hair. But more importantly, Mendes isn’t just a pop mannequin – his guitar skills are developing into John Mayer territory, his songs are genuine and sturdily crafted and onstage, his effortless charm can captivate an arena of all ages.
7. Cher (Jan. 25 at Infinite Energy Arena): She’s a goddess. Goodnight, everyone.
6. Al Green (May 3 at Fox Theatre): Hard to believe that the soul legend never performed at the Fox Theatre prior to his spring appearance, which was part church revival and part realization that you were in the presence of soul royalty.
5. Queen + Adam Lambert (Aug. 22 at State Farm Arena): If you’re still skeptical about Lambert’s ability to fill the spotlight left by irreplaceable frontman Freddie Mercury, well, get over it. Lambert is a dazzling delight, and his clear rapport with Brian May and Roger Taylor coupled with his subtle respect of Mercury’s memory makes these Queen shows even more emotional.
4. Hugh Jackman (July 3 at State Farm Arena): Surely this man has a flaw. We know he can act, he’s a classically handsome dude and we’ve seen his abs. By all accounts, he’s a lovely and genuine fellow as well. Now toss in his ability to sing and dance through everything from Broadway classics to the underappreciated pop schmaltz of Peter Allen and you have a perfect evening of old-school showbiz.
3. Lizzo (Sept. 14 at Music Midtown): If you still aren’t convinced of the dynamism of Miss Melissa Jefferson, catch her live. All of those Lizzo-isms – the body positivity, the love thyself mantras and, most enjoyably, the powerhouse vocals – will make you a believer.
2. Jeff Lynne’s ELO (July 5 at State Farm Arena): Aside from the rarity of experiencing ELO’s superb catalog live, this was simply the best-sounding concert in decades. Lynne is an audio wizard and his meticulous standards were tremendously appreciated.
1. Pink (March 12 at State Farm Arena): Somehow, Pink’s spectacle – while nearly identical to her 2018 visit – was even more impressive during her encore visit to Atlanta. No one – absolutely not a soul – can pull off Pink’s feats of iron-lunged singing (and yes, she is) while hanging upside down from a massive chandelier. Her acrobatics are Cirque-worthy (and no doubt, her insurance company held its collective breath every night of the tour), but Pink’s still-robust catalog was equally striking.
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