For me, it's always a good year for concerts when the Drive-By Truckers can be included in the year-end wrap-up, and their performance at the Vogue Theatre on April 22 was one of the two best gigs I attended in 2014. It helped that the Alabama/Georgia-based band was touring behind one of its finest albums ever, English Oceans, which was a shoo-in for my Top 10 of the year list.
The other best gig I attended in 2014 was Slash at the Hard Rock Casino Vancouver on August 15. It was my first time at the venue since it changed its name from the Red Robinson Show Theatre–my petition to get it changed to Newt's Flaming Colossal Rockatorium didn't catch on–and it certainly lived up to the new moniker. Hard rock indeed, and the best kind. Not only was Slash himself on fire, but his bassist-vocalist, former Vancouverite Todd “Dammit” Kerns, totally earned the title of Most Rockin’ Canadian Bassist of the 21st Century.
2014 was also the year I saw my first concert at the Rio Theatre, which has won me over as one of the coolest concert venues in town. It helped, of course, that the band I went to see there on January 24 was the North Mississippi Allstars, whose shit-kicker approach to North Mississippi hill-country blues has always done me right.
The only arena concert to make my Top 5 of 2014 was Queen + Adam Lambert at Rogers Arena on June 28. I had my reservations about “new boy” Lambert stepping in to Freddy Mercury’s (or even Paul Rodgers’) shoes, but the relative blandness of his voice did not take away from the overall strength of the show, which owed most of its power to the colossal guitarwork of the mighty Brian May.
It’s kinda shocking to me that not one of my Top 5 shows of 2014 took place at the Commodore, which is usually where I get most of my concert jollies in Vancouver. But the venue just down Granville a bit, the Vogue, has been booking some primo acts of late. One of them was Steve Hackett, the former Genesis guitarist, whose gig on December 11 was manna from heaven for fans of ’70s prog.