Sometimes, the concerts that move me the most don’t end up as reviews beneath my byline in The Buffalo News. I spend whatever free time modern life grants me going to concerts, whether I'm on the clock or otherwise. Here, in no particular order, are a few of my favorite shows among those I attended purely for pleasure.
Moonchild, Nov. 18 at Buffalo Iron Works. This neo-soul/jazz trio creates an incredibly deep, sensual and thick sound solely through the efforts of Amber Navran (vocals, saxophone), Andris Mattson (trumpet, keys) and Max Bryk (saxophone, keys). It has been a good while since I've seen a band for the first time and walked away convinced I'd be a fan for a life. Gorgeous.
Gary Numan, Dec. 2 at Town Ballroom. I've admired Numan's work for decades, and though I wouldn’t consider myself a hardcore fan, his name lingered on a list of interesting artists I'd never had the opportunity to experience live. Numan is an artist "of a certain age," and so my expectations were somewhat dampened by the realization that the guy could well be phoning it in. Instead, the full house was presented with a stunningly dramatic selection of old and new songs played by a killer band fronted by a guy who gave the appearance of having a 20-year-old's energy, enthusiasm and passion for the music. Amazing.
Tears For Fears, June 14 at Artpark. Fresh out of college and newly arrived in Buffalo in the summer of 1990, my immediate circle of close friends was absolutely smitten with Tears for Fears' "Sowing the Seeds of Love" album, a soulful, Beatle-esque collection of brilliant pop songs. I'd seen the band in Saratoga Springs the summer before moving to Buffalo, and then waited 15 years before the band returned with an inspired 2004 reunion show at UB's Center for the Arts. The show turned out to be much more than a trip down memory lane. The band, aided by the estimable talents of backing vocalist Carina Round (of Puscifer), summoned a bold, timeless sound that remains incredibly easy to love.
Tool, May 30 at Blue Cross Arena, Rochester. This show took place in Rochester, but Tool did only a handful of shows on this tour, and this one was meant to serve the whole Western New York market. (Fat chance. It sold out in seconds, and most likely could have sold out five nights in a row or more.) This is one of the 10 best concerts I've ever witnessed, and I've been to thousands. I'm almost relieved I wasn't reviewing it, because it left me stunned and speechless. Pure magic.
Mark Filsinger Eleventet, May 14 at Nietzsche's Jazz Festival. Some of the finest jazz musicians in Buffalo gathering on Mother's Day to play the tunes and arrangements of trumpeter/SUNY Buffalo State music professor Filsinger, among them Bobby Militello, Dave Schiavone, Bobby Jones and John Bacon, Jr? More than worth the small pittance asked at the door of Nietzsche's. The opportunity to take in this brilliant big band with my jazz musician son? Priceless.
Kansas, Nov. 24 at University at Buffalo Center for the Arts
I was skeptical going in, and the opening acoustic set was bit over-earnest and square-sounding, even if it was immaculately performed, but I ended up very glad I attended. The ornately progressive deep cuts made the show.