THE ARTS & EN TERTAIN MEN T
SUNDAY, JANUARY 7.1990
Reviewers Pick The Best
In A Busy Concert Year
By Terri F. Reilly
; N WHAT has become a year-end tradition. each of the
. IPost-Dispatch pop music reviewers has come up with
his or her live favorite concerts of 1989 — favorite
because, for one reason or another, each held something
special for us.
Though each reviewer has particular areas of emphasis.
there are a number of similarities on the lists. just as there
were last year, The big news in 1989 was the Busch Stadium
shows by two of the best-loved rock 'n’ roll bands in the
world. The concerts by the Who and the Rolling Stones
were much anticipated and much hyped by the media.
promoters and sponsors.
The concert year was one of the busiest on record. and
the wide variety of musical acts to come here spoke well of
St. Louis as a concert town. Though old-timers seemed to
dominate this year's concert scene. we weren't hurting for
quality new music as local clubs and promoters continued
to take risks in bringing in the best of cutting-edge music.
It certainly is a far cry from the days when good concerts
were far and few in between.
Here are our reviewers' choices, in reverse alphabetical
order this year.
Jeff Beck with Terry-Bozzio and Tony Hymas, Oct. 29,
It's pretty rare when an opening act tops a “best or" list.
'but then guitarist Jeff Beck is an utterly singular talent. As
special guest for Stevie Ray Vaughan. a role that the two
acts alternated from city to city. the 45-year-old British
guitar hero performed an essentially instrumental
program that featured plenty of his trademark flash.
Using a stock Fender Stratocaster guitar, a couple of
ancient Marshall and Fender amplifiers and a pair of
cheesy effect pedals. Beck summoned a myriad of tones
- and textures from his simple tools.
In addition, Bozzio and Hymas are probably the strongest
band I've seen support Beck and brought an intensity to the
material only hinted at on Beck's lastest album, “Guitar
Reba McEntire, Sept. 9, Fox Theatre
[caught McEntire’s afternoon performance and wished I
could have stayed for the evening show.
Even though the stage production was a trifle slick. one
couldn't find fault with the power. delivery or sweet-
sadness of McEntire’s vocals. 1 especially enjoyed the
singer‘s a cappella rendition of Patsy Cline‘s “Sweet
Dreams." which brought the concert to a memorable
" Living Colour,Feb.11, Mississippi Nights
While more people got a chance to see Living Colour
onstage at Busch Stadium opening for the Rolling Stones.
,. there is little doubt that the group’s Mississippi N ights
performance was the one to catch.
The New York-based quartet's debut album was just
catching fire on the Billboard charts when the band made
‘ its St. Louis debut and exploded into a flurry of sound and
" motion on the nightclub stage.
Donny Osmond, Nov. 11, Westport Playhouse
I can‘t imagine a more startling transition than the one
Osmond has made over the last year. Even if it took his pal
Peter Gabriel to make people sit up and listen to his
current work, the singer still managed to put together a hit
album and a first-rate stage program.
Rarely have i seen a performer so completely at home
onstage. Whether he was performing his own keyboard
solos or singing center stage. the man was clearly in control
of his show. My bet is that Osmond will have the last laugh
on all those who found him a convenient brunt of jokes for
Bon Jovi, April 7, The Arena
For weeks after Jon Bon Jovi and his band left town,
people were still asking me if the band was any good.
Weren’t they just the product of record-company hype and
a couple of fancy videos?
Well, the fact is J on Bon Jovi has a penchant for writing
memorable pop hooks and can work an arena crowd with
the deft hand 01a master. After all, you don't sell out
arenas from here to Moscow and have nothing to back it up
Terri F. Reilly
Lou Reed, April 9, The American Theatre
It was a rare treat for Lou Reed to venture this way, and
how great it was to see the man who has shaped the musical
lives of countless musicians and has influenced what we've
listened to for more than three decades.
The evening was as intimate as one could get in a crowd
of a thousand. Reed devoted his first set to his latest album,
“New York." then told the sold-out house that after a 15-
minute break, he would return to play “some stuff you want
to hear." He took exactly 15 minutes. then launched into a
high-energy. high-quality set of his best-known works. If
memory serves, the concert clocked in at almost 21/2 hours.
Jeff Beck, Oct. 29, Fox Theatre
It not only takes a lot of talent. but years of experience to
put on a show like guitar wiz Jeff Beck did at the Fox when
he opened for Stevie Ray Vaughan. It's mindboggling to
think that Beck has been at it through four decades.
Backed by drummer extraordinaire Terry Bozzio and
keyboardist Tony Hymas, Beck's performance was
brilliant. It was the cleanest. best-performed and most
entertaining show of the year.
The Rolling Stones/The Who, Sept. 17 and Aug. 11, Busch
The spectacle of these events put the Who and the Stones
on equal footing. though [saw them from completely
different perspectives — the Who from way back in loge
seating and the Stones from eighth-row center.
It was something to witness the mass of humanity on a
field normally reserved for nine ballplayers. And it was
even more intense to be in the middle of all of that. Never
mind that both bands put on perfect shows from top to
bottom, it was enough just being part of something larger
than life twice.
Each show was truly a once-in-a-lifetime event.
Bad Brains, Aug. 24, Soulard Preservation Hall
All sorts of things were working against the much-
anticipated Bad Brains show. A last-minute venue change
threw it into an acoustically poor setting, so the sound
quality was anything but.
There were too many
people crammed into too
small of a space. making
the temperature at least
It was midnight before
Rastafarian punk band
took the stage and
unleashed a wealth of
Management pulled the
plug just 50 minutes later.
Unhappy holders of
smashed a few beer
bottles and overturned a
couple of tables and ‘
chairs on their way out.
Once on the street. the
party continued until
police were summoned to
break up the crowd.
Still. it was quite a
scene, and it was great
seeing a band that helped
define punk and whose
mastery of the genre was unfazed despite the
Lyle Lovett, Nov. 3, The Fox
Every once in a rare while, a performer like Lyle Lovett
comes along. Lovett writes hip country music that contains
smart and witty lyrics, and he’s got a smart look that has
become a trademark of sorts. He's thoroughly entertaining
and his music is well-crafted. intricate. intelligent but
Almost single-handedly, Lovett is helping change the
way rock ’n' roll America views country music. A true
Honorable mention: Neil Young, Living Colour. Cowboy
Junkies. Stan Ridgway, Faith No More. Yellowman. the
none of his lire.
Lou Reed showed he’d lost
country music to town several times.
Reivers. Ronnie Earl. Red Hot Chili Peppers (second
night), U-Roy. Nancy Griffith, Jimmy Cliff. PlL (John
Lydon proved his no one-band man).
The Rolling Stones, Sept. 17, Busch Stadium
The world's greatest rock ‘n' roll band was in top form.
They played great songs as if they meant 'em. What's really
scary is that at one time they were probably even better.
Lester Bowie’s Brass Fantasy, July 23, VP Fair
This was the highlight of the best jazz festival held in St.
Louis in my memory. Bowie’s arrangements of pop and
R & B classics for a large brass orchestra were clever and
Lyle Lovett brought his unique brand of
ABOVE: The Rolling Stones —
(from Iett) Charlie Watts, Bill
Wyman, Ron Wood, Mick Jag-
ger and Keith Richards —
brought the second halfiof
1989’s British invasion Tto
Busch Stadium in September.
LEFT: The Who — (from left)
Pete Townshend, Roger r'Dal-
trey and John Entwistle —
came to town in August for the
ﬁrst of the two Busch Stadium
shows that made this a very
Guitar whiz Jeff Beck (center) was backed by
Tony Hymas (left) and Terry Bozzio.
Chuck Berry/Jerry Lee Lewis, Aug. 25. Fox Theatre
Here we had two of the best on a good night Lewis raged
slowly but definitively Berry matched the brilliance of his
30- -year- o-ld recordings
Sweet Honey in the Rock, Jan. 29 and Oct. 14, Westport
I got to see two performances by the group that to my
mind stands for vocal perfection. Intricate harmonies
gospel-derived testifying, beautiful melodies. Nobody is
Sukay, March 24, Focal Point
Peruvian folk music. played on Andean pipes and