Best Shows of 2008



:: Brian F. Johnson :: Publisher/Editor ::

:: Rage Against the Machine ::

:: Denver Coliseum :: August 27 ::

Held during the Democratic National Convention, this show goes down in my book as not only one of the best shows of 2008, but as one of the best shows I’ve ever seen — period.

This was mid-day in a hot Coliseum, with no alcohol sales, and the crowd didn’t mind one bit once Rage stepped in front of the lights.

Rage absolutely killed it. They were furious, loud and overflowing with angst about the DNC, the war and the impending election. But the real magic of the afternoon was the over-the-top crowd who bounced and fist-pumped throughout the entire show. The floor of the Coliseum, at times, seemed like a 4,000 person mosh-pit that seldom calmed. Crowd surfers were being peeled off the front row at the rate of five to 10 people per minute. Surprisingly, the security staff set to “catch” the surfers were very kind to them, even smiling and laughing with the fans as they touched down on the ground and were ushered to the wings.

This, to me, was more historic than the DNC itself. I felt like I was witnessing history and was honored to have been there.


:: Timothy Dwenger :: Senior Contrib. Writer ::

:: My Morning Jacket ::

:: Red Rocks Amphitheatre :: August 21 ::

Every band needs a stage to play on and sometimes that stage eats them up and sometimes they own it, but it is a truly amazing moment when a band makes you feel like the entire venue was built expressly for them. That’s exactly what happened at Red Rocks in late August when Kentucky boys, My Morning Jacket, roared into Colorado and seized control from the moment they stepped on stage. From the first keyboard notes to the last strum of the guitar, the band was clearly not intimidated by the history of the venue as they were washed in an understated but mesmerizing light show that relied mostly on the eerie shadows cast by billowing smoke and the occasional blinding flash. For the duration of the nearly three hour performance, the majesty of their psychedelic southern rock reverberated from the giant walls of the amphitheater and enveloped every awestruck fan in their own personal cocoon of sound. From the haunting alt-country of “Sec Walkin’” to the downright frightening and guttural tones of “Highly Suspicious,” the band left no stone unturned in their deep catalog, creating what is sure to go down in the annals of Red Rocks lore as one of the best nights the venue has seen.


:: Lisa Oshlo :: Senior Writer ::

:: Stevie Wonder ::

:: Fiddler’s Green :: July 1 ::

There is just something about Stevie Wonder. Arguably one of the greatest musicians of our time, Wonder took to the Denver stage about thirteen years after his last performance here, which was, then, a small event at the Paramount Theater.
Armed with thirteen other musicians, including his daughter Aisha Morris on backup vocals, Wonder was not only in his element but having a blast. After opening with four songs from the 1980 album Hotter Than July, he bounced around his enormous musical catalogue, focusing largely on his hits from the ’70s but playing some great covers, the best of which was Chick Corea’s “Spain.”

By now it wasn’t just Stevie that was having a blast — the entire audience was happy to be along for the ride. Their hearts were touched when Wonder performed a duet with his daughter on Nat King Cole’s “I’m Going To Laugh You Right Out Of My Life,” followed by “Isn’t She Lovely,” the song that he wrote for Aisha when she was just a baby. How could you not be moved? On the occasions that he spoke with the audience, he encouraged peace, love, unity, and change. Wonder closed the show with a medley of some of his classics and ended with a super-funky “Superstition,” showing his Denver fans that Stevie Wonder has, with absolute certainty, still got it.

:: Jonathan Keller :: Review Editor ::

:: Roger Waters :: Pepsi Center :: April 29 ::

Even more than a half year later, when I look back on this show I can’t help but say it was simply the best show I saw all year. It goes beyond that, though; it was one of the best shows I have ever seen.

I saw Pink Floyd, sans Waters, back in 1994 and finally getting to see Waters, the brains and creative genius behind most of Pink Floyd’s seminal work, was well worth the wait. It honestly made the 1994 Pink Floyd concert seem like a really good cover band going through the motions.

Waters gave the audience two emotional full sets of music and went through every Floyd album, including Dark Side of The Moon in its entirety, for the night’s second set. The visual aspect of the show was beyond surreal as the enormous high-definition screen, which ran the length of the entire stage, projected gorgeous images of Syd Barrett during “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” and, in a very creative moment at the end of “Have a Cigar,” a hand appeared on the screen to turn off a vintage radio, stopping the band mid-song. The hand then flipped through various radio stations before settling on “Wish You Were Here,” which the band started playing in perfect unison. Not to mention the show was the best sounding show I have ever seen at the Pepsi Center.

I am often very frugal with my concert ticket purchases, but I have said this many times and I will say it again: I would easily shell out $100 or more to see Waters perform again. Simply one of my greatest concert experiences yet.

:: DJ Hippie :: Contributing Writer ::

:: The Motet perform the Talking Heads ::

:: Cervante’s Masterpiece :: October 31 ::

I’m a summer blockbusters and high ticket price paying type of guy more than I am a fan of art house films and well-intentioned indie bands, so my placing this show at the top of my list is a testament to its greatness in itself.
It was Halloween night and as Axl Rose says, I had just “got my camera back from customs and my law fees up to date,” so-to-speak, so I was primed for a worry-free night of music and mayhem.

After a somewhat disappointing Halloween performance by ZZ Top that ended way too early, my friend and I thankfully stopped by Cervantes on a lark. Any local music fan knows that stepping into Cervantes is sometimes like stepping into a time machine. On this occasion it was like being teleported to a Talking Heads show from the early Eighties.

The Motet were not just recreating the Talking Heads music, they were flat out owning the shit. Killer, killer renditions of “Take Me to River,” “Nothing but Flowers” and other classics had the soldout venue in a full-on freakout mode. On top of that, the beer was flowing freely (literally at times) and the costumed crowd just made the scene all the more surreal.

Not only the best show of 2008 but possibly the best Halloween ever for this music fan.

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