Tuesday 27 December 2011

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Best of 2011 - Best Concert

We live in what concert promoters would call a "smaller market". Sure there's over 100,000 people living in the immediate vicinity, but even if every one of us promised to buy a ticket, we can't draw the bigger name bands because our biggest arena only seats around 6,000. U2 doesn't show up at a lot of 6,000 seat venues, so when we want to see the top acts of the day, we have to travel.

This means that when I ask my kids to choose their favorite show of the year, they tend to grade the concerts based on the entire experience. Does Lady Gaga get bonus marks because we spent the entire morning of the show at Disneyland? Did Katy Perry rank a little higher because we had an amazing hotel that night? Or did Taylor Swift suffer in the rankings because we drove four hours to get there, then turned around and drove four hours back immediately after? These are questions I can't answer for you, but it's information to keep in mind while I review our favorite musical adventures of the year.

Today's Category - Best Concert

 The nominees are:

Katy Perry - There's a line you can walk between being a little edgy, and being family friendly. Katy Perry knows exactly where that line is, and as a result this was a great concert to bring our kids to. Tons of songs that my kids could sing along with, plenty of great choreographed dance numbers that only playfully ventured into PG-13 territory, and some really good seats behind a row of people who decided about half way through that they'd rather be someplace else, made this show a pretty strong contender. It didn't hurt that we got to spend the night at the Fairmont Pacific Rim after the show either.

KISS - Not a real contender for this award, as only the boy and I went to see them, but KISS is a tradition in our family. It was one of the first shows I ever saw when they shared the bill with Aerosmith many moons ago, it was the first concert that I took Lori to see, and it was the first band that we ever saw in Madison Square Garden. Not a whole lot of surprise in the show - they sing lots of mediocre hit songs and blow up as much stuff as possible. Then they slap their faces on any merchandise they can find, and rake in the money. I get the joke, but I'm still a fan.

Lady Gaga - Remember that line we were talking about in the Katy Perry write up? Lady Gaga's never heard of it. More importantly, her audience is intent on seeing how far past the line they can go. The concert itself was fascinating. An amazing stage and a highly polished set of musicians and dancers showed why Ms. Gaga had one of the highest grossing tours of the year. The gentlemen wearing the ass-less chaps and saran wrap, showed why this outing made our list of 5 places we probably shouldn't have taken our kids.

Selena Gomez - Only in a (really spaced out) alphabetical list should Selena Gomez and Lady Gaga be next to each other. While Mother Monster is living out on the edge of civility, Selena is every bit the Disney princess that she's marketed as. She's on this list because she's my youngest daughter's favorite singer, and while her live show isn't terrible, it can be a bit bland. It's probably because she's had to keep her music on the back burner while filming Wizards of Waverly Place, but if she focuses on her music once Wizards ends next month, she has the tools to lead some very successful tours, and at least I won't have to worry about her audience showing up wrapped in saran wrap.

Taylor Swift - A few years ago, I probably would have said the same thing about Taylor Swift that I just said about Selena Gomez. She seemed very tentative and unsure of herself, a little uncomfortable at being the person at center stage. Not any more. Taylor absolutely owned Vancouver during her two nights there, bringing a show that was equally as polished as Lady Gaga's, yet every bit as family friendly as Katy Perry. Although I'm not a huge fan of audiences comprised mainly of teenage girls now that I'm older (I didn't feel the same in my Duran Duran days), I found myself up and dancing along with the crowd through the entire show. The multitude of songs about teenage romance inspired me to write a post of dating advice for my son, but I think for the majority of the audience, it just inspired them to scream. Really, really loud.

And the winner is........

Lady Gaga!!!

Kind of. Actually, on our first ballot, we had a five way tie, so we had to go to second choices. Here's how it went:

             1st Choice          2nd Choice
Steve - Lady Gaga           Taylor Swift
Lori -   Taylor Swift          Katy Perry
Talon - KISS                    Lady Gaga
Neve - Katy Perry            Lady Gaga
Leeds - Selena Gomez      Lady Gaga

First of all, I didn't see the boy's vote for KISS coming, although considering the rest of the nominees are solo female performers, I probably should have. Secondly, why are all my children voting for Lady Gaga as their second choice? I loved the show (obviously), but each of my kids had plenty of questions about some of the happenings on stage ("Why is the piano on fire?" "Why are the boys wearing only underwear?" "Why in the world would you think it was a good idea to bring us here?"). I would have expected Taylor Swift to win easily once the voting went to a second ballot, but I guess it's more fun to vote for the place you probably shouldn't have been. That's fine, but by that logic, do we take our next family vacation to Thailand, or the red light district in Amsterdam?

Congratulations to our favorite concert of 2011 -
                Lady Gaga!!!