By Allison Brennan

I had a blog half-written about e-book royalties, but it’s going to have to wait because I’m too tired to be analytical this late Saturday night (early Sunday morning.) Why? Because I just returned from my first rock concert in ages.

Before I had kids, I went to a lot of concerts. I’m sure this is standard fare for most of us. For me, I love rock. LOVE it. But I’m still pretty traditional in my rock taste. In the 80s, I was a throwback to Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Who and a touch of harder rock like AC/DC and The Scorpions. In the 90s, I still liked the same bands, but add in U2 and The Eagles and The Steve Miller Band and Kansas. A little less hard. But current bands? Ugh. I couldn’t find anything new I really liked.

After kids? Getting out to concerts is difficult, to say the least. I think we’ve been to 2 or 3. I know Steve Miller was one, a long time ago.

The 2000s have seen a resurgence in real rock bands. When I said “real” I mean rockers who can actually play an instrument AND entertain. Saturday night I saw Nickelback with Three Days Grace.

To say the concert was fabulous is an understatement. And even though I’m over 40 and brought my two teenage daughters and my eldest’s boyfriend, I still enjoyed myself. One thing I noted immediately is that these bands drew in a wide range of ages. There were a lot of older teens, but just as many 30 and 40 somethings–so I felt right at home. (Unlike “Jingle Ball” a couple years ago which was all pre teens and teenagers and other than Katie Perry who can actually play the guitar and belt out a song, none of the performers were anything more than mediocre.)

Both bands have real talent for music, songwriting, and singing. But as we all know, talent is only one component of a successful artist. These bands both know how to entertain. They put on shows–Nickelback complete with pyrotechnics. But it wasn’t just the bells and whistles. Nickelback came out to a stage in the middle, away from the lights and gimmicks, and just sat on stools playing guitar and singing. That shows confidence. That they don’t need all the other stuff to play good music.

Some of the fun stuff was playing riffs from popular and timeless songs –such as Pink Floyd’s THE WALL and Journey and Bon Jovi, among others. It not only showed the bands roots and influences, but showed an appreciation of those who came before them.

Needless to say, I was impressed. I loved the entire concert (perhaps even more than my teenagers!) and would go again in a heartbeat. 

A talented band is certainly necessary to enjoy a concert, though there are some musicians who are more performers than artists (such as so many of the popular “pop” bands of today.) These type of performers couldn’t put the gimmicks aside and sit on a stool and play guitar and give the audience an amazing show. Because they are nothing outside of the bells and whistles; their talent is only in the performance itself.

One highlight was Daniel Adair, Nickelback’s drummer. Not only is he talented, but he is reminiscent of the best drummers of my favorite bands. While no one compares (IMO) to Jon Bonham, Adair was amazing to listen to, and his solo was truly remarkable. The drummer often is overlooked in bands, but a bad drummer is noticeable, and a good drummer makes every song better. Drummers are the backbone of rock.

Writers are different in that we don’t “perform”, but we do need to entertain. No one is going to pay to listen to us read from our books (at least not most of us!) but they do buy books because they want to have a few hours of enjoyment. Whether they take their pleasure from the thrill of a suspense, the puzzle of a mystery, or the heart of a romance, they want to close the book and think, “That was a good story.” 

There are a few other bands I would love to see in concert, and maybe I’ll have to track them down. The Howling Diablos are one, but I haven’t heard them playing outside of Michigan yet. They’re more bluesy, maybe I could see them in a club. And then there’s The Dropkick Murphys from Boston who my friend Carla Neggers saw before attending the 2009 Thrillerfest (and yes, I was jealous.) And maybe Eagles of Death Metal because they have such fun songs. But if Nickelback or Three Days Grace came back? I’ll be there.

What current band would you like to see? What band would you have loved to see? (For me? Hands down, Pink Floyd’s THE WALL. Though The Who would be a close second.)

For your enjoyment:

Nickelback performing Burn it to the Ground in 2009




Nickelback performing Animals in 2006



Daniel Adair’s drum solo in London last year:


Three Days Grace performing Riot in Detroit



Three Days Grace “Break” music video 



41 thoughts on “Entertainment

  1. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Allison

    I, too, love Nickelback – I think I have every album the've done. And I once spent a day driving round Goodwood race circuit with Nick Mason from Pink Floyd, who's the most down-to-earth nice guy you could hope to meet.

    But these days I'm too grumpy and antisocial to enjoy being out in a big crowd. We went to see the Red Bull X-Fighters freestyle motocross event at Battersea Power Station in London a couple of years ago, and yes the show as amazing, but by the end of it I just wanted to deck the three yobs in the row in front of us.

    Bah, humbug… ;-]

  2. Laura Jane Thompson

    My favorite band to see in concert, bar none, is Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Their Christmas concerts are part rock opera, part heavy metal jam, all set against the backdrop of an amazing Christmas story. And then they do some Beethoven.

    Like Zoe, I don't have the patience or the desire to brave crowds and chaos for most concerts, but TSO is definitely an exception. We see them every Christmas.

    In the past, though, I really enjoyed seeing Aerosmith, and I would have loved to see Savatage perform in their day.

  3. Debby J

    The Allman Brothers with all the dead guys alive. Love see them play Whipping Post. Just once. I'm not greedy.

  4. JD Rhoades

    I've been extraordinarily lucky in that my kids not only love music, they love to share it with us. They prepare for any long trip by burning a playlist to a CD to listen to in the car. Actually, this may be a defense mechanism so they don't have to listen to my Led Zeppelin, Van Morrison and Buddy Guy all the way there.

    There are so many great bands out there, and I'm discovering new ones weekly. Right now I'm playing a lot of Black Keys and Arcade Fire. The new AF album is one of those records I'll listen to all the way through, then put right back on again. That hasn't happened to me in years.

    Other recent loves include the Avett Brothers, Kings of Leon, Muse, Cake, the Weakerthans, Derek Trucks Band, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Academy Is… , and Fountains of Wayne. LOVE Fountains of Wayne. Irresistibly catchy pop songs with slyly funny lyrics. They're definitely on my concert list.



    Like Zoe, I'm not as tolerant of crowds as I used to be, so I tend to want to see music in smaller venues, like clubs. I'd really love to see blueswoman Carolyn Wonderland:


    Never been a huge fan of Nickelback, though….sorry.

  5. PK the Bookeemonster

    Current bands? None.
    I'd have to use a time machine but here are the top three: The Beatles would have been beyond imagining. The Who during their tour of Tommy. The Police before they broke up and Synchronicity was being promoted. After that: U2. Pink Floyd. Eric Clapton. Queen.

  6. Eika

    I would love- heartstoppingly love- to see Story of the Year in concert, and not just because of their name. They play a mix of soft songs like Nickelback's and harder rock. And most of them are subtle social commentary (forget about subtle; one of my favorites has the lines 'in a troubled time, in a time of fear, we place our trust, in the insincere' which is a blow, but hilarious).

  7. JD Rhoades

    Sorry PK…but look at it this way, you didn't waste your hard earned bucks on a concert with three guys who clearly couldn't care less and were just phoning it in.

  8. pari noskin taichert

    Allison, I am soooo out of this loop.

    When I was a lot younger, I got to see some great bands — Three Dog Night, Steppenwolf, Alice Cooper — but I haven't been to a rock concert in years. The last one was probably Melissa Etheridge (She was fabulous!).

    The rest of my long-ago concert going was ethnic groups or really indie ones such as LadySmith Black Mambaza and Jane Siberry . . .

    Nowadays I tend to go to live chamber music concerts Or the Albuquerque Youth Symphony gigs — and though I don't like cigarette lighter, I still have a blast . . .

  9. Allison Brennan

    JD, I think I love Nickelback because of the power of the music and Chad's vocals. He can belt out and stay in key. It's very intense. BUT I absolutely love Three Days Grace.

    And I'm totally jealous Zoe about Nick Mason. How amazing. And it's so great to know he's cool.

    I like The Police to listen to sometimes, but I never cared about going to see them in concert. I had a big YES faze and did enjoy their concert, but I don't listen to them anymore.

    And BJ, I LOVE Jimmy Buffet in concert! I've been to two (both before kids, which means a long, long time ago) and had a blast.

    BTW, I didn't think I would like the concert crowd, either. I didn't buy tickets for the floor, figure at 41 I needed my own seat. However, once the concert started there were times I wish I were on the floor because with rock I really get into it 🙂 My teenagers were much more staid, though they said they had fun.

  10. Allison Brennan

    I forgot to mention (it was late when I posted!) but during the break between Three Days Grace and Nickelback, the Giants were in the bottom of the 9th and I was in line for an adult beverage and watched with hundreds of others at Arco as the Giants won the Pennant. Sacramento are big Giants fans (we don't have any major league team.)

    One thing Nickelback did–proving they are entertainers–is incorporate local images in one of their sons (PHOTOGRAPH, which is truly a reflective and fun song) and it included a headline of Giants go to the World Series–they had to change that on the fly, but I think it shows that they cared that they made their audience happy. They wanted people to have fun. That's part of their overall talent as a band. (They also had local images like the Tower Bridge, which other than the Capitol Building is the best known landmark.)

  11. Debbie

    Rati: Please, please if someone could please remove my previous comment, I posted the wrong link. Here is the correct version:

    A band with both talent and awesome preformers to boot would be Van Halen. I saw Billy Joel and Elton John last year (Face to Face tour). Who'd I like to see: U2, Sting…then and now.

    May I add hear that we have very humble and extraordinary talent amongst us here in Spencer Seidel. (Sorry Spence, I hope that you don't mind me sharing this but it blew me away!)

    Finally, Neil Peart imo, set the standard at an unattainable height with his talent. He's a freakin' octopus:
    This isn't noise, thrashing around wildly with some semblance of rhythm, it's thorough knowledge of the instrument, a talent, a gift, music.

  12. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Thanks for the links, Allison – I'm a big Nickelback fan, too, and I often listen to them as I prepare to write. I can't wait to listen to these links.
    Seeing music live is something I haven't done for a long, long while. I look forward to it when I have more time, more money, when the kids are older, etc. I'd love to see The Who and Pink Floyd. I can imagine how amazing The Wall would be live. I did see The Kinks, back in the day. And Jethro Tull. I saw Elton John and Billy Joel. I also love seeing jazz – Pat Metheny, Chick Corea, Gary Burton – I've seen them all live.

  13. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Just listened to the links. Thank you for Three Days Grace – never heard them before, they're great. And, of course, Nickelback is always fucking fantastic.

  14. toni mcgee causey

    I love Nickleback (and was sort of dismayed that a lot of my sons' age group–20s–started to dislike them… said it was a Creed type of blowback where every song sounded the same, but I disagreed.)

    Another band which started in New Orleans which has a great sound and those sly lyrics like Dusty was talking about is Cowboy Mouth. I am not a concert person (my idea of hell, trapped in a building with a bunch of people all yammering and gyrating and crowding? um, no.)… but anyway, those who love concerts who've gone to Cowboy Mouth concerts have come away absolutely raving about how fantastic they are. Apparently, they give good show.


  15. Dudley Forster

    I’m with Pari on the concert scene, as far as rock concerts go. Hey Pari, Three Dog Night put on a pretty good show. Of course, back then after the lights went down everyone lit up. If you were in the back, by the time the warm up acts were done you had a hard time seeing the stage through the smoke and it wasn’t from cigarettes.

    Most of the concerts I have gone to in the last ten years have been country. I’m extremely eclectic in my musical taste. I was raised on C & W, I like classical (Chopin’s Nocturnes make great writing music); Jazz (Not Dixie or fusion, more along the lines of Brubeck, Davis and Coltrane) Celtic, like Clannad , Enya and I love anything by Loreena McKennitt. I’m also a big Jimmy Buffet fan, “A Pirate Looks at 40” Yes! The Oldies of course, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin , Blood Sweat and Tears, Black Sabbath, Doobie Bros. etc.

    Contemporary music would include Sarah Mclaughlin, Mellissa Ethrdige, 3 Doors Down, 10000 Maniacs, Jewel, Dido & The Cranberries . I am so behind on the newer artists.

    But my favorite contemporary music is Symphonic Metal and Goth Metal. I love Evanescence, Epica, Leaves Eyes, Nightwish and best of all, Within Temptation.

    Checkout these Within Temptation vids


  16. Debbie

    Sorry, said it over on fb but forgot to say it here; thank you Pari ever so much. I really mean that!

  17. JT Ellison

    We see a lot of shows – one of the major blessings of living in Music City. Right now I'm bumming because Mumford & Sons are coming and sold out in a heartbeat. Their song LITTLE LION MAN is one of my current faves. I was so bummed that we missed out that I dreamt of them last night. They were soundtracking my life, scene by scene.

    I've seen too many great shows to count – U2 at Red Rocks, the Police in Fenway Park, Def Leppard, Prince, Billy Joel, Flock of Seagulls, Bon Jovi, The Connells, The Pixies, Tift Merritt, Neko Case…. I love traveling to other cities for major events. I love big stadium shows and intimate gatherings. Viva live music!

  18. Becky LeJeune

    We hadn't been to any shows in the past few years until I splurged and bought Muse tix earlier this year. The show was rescheduled after a weather snafu and we ended up seeing them just this month. It was amazing. They put on one of the most fantastic shows I've ever seen. I'd recommend them to anyone. They're fantastic performers, but they really put a lot of work into their live shows.

    After I bought Muse, I got super lucky. I bought Nico Vega tickets and then my dad treated us to Imogen Heap and my sisters pitched in for Vampire Weekend for my b-day. I have to say all of the shows were amazing. Nico Vega is super loud and energetic and played this tiny little place. Imogen Heap was spectacular — I can't imagine how she does what she does, but her process live is really an eye opener and she improvs as well. And I never would have pegged Vampire Weekend as a stadium band, but they blew up Red Rocks.

    I have two shows on my list that I definitely want to get to if they come my way: My Chemical Romance and Florence and the Machine. I'm hoping MCR will come to Denver for their new album. It probably won't be until sometime next year, though, so I'll have time to save some money 🙂 And next time Nico Vega is around, I'm totally there!

  19. kim

    I enjoyed Aerosmith in concert – it was in the 1990s when I saw them and they put on a great show. Laugh if you will – but Barry Manilow puts on a good show – I was surprised (also back in the 90s when I saw him). I've seen lots of country singers (Alan Jackson, Billy Ray Cyrus, Randy Travis) and saw Whitney Houston. Come to think of it, most of the concerts I've been to were back in the 90s – now that I'm a mom, I've only been to see the Jonas Brothers recently (which my oldest loved and my youngest deemed "too loud"). I'd like to see Pink, Katy Perry and Plain White Ts.

  20. KDJames

    I've seen The Who in concert four times. Not sure I should admit that over here. Fantasic every time. Unfortunately, I've also seen The Backstreet Boys four times. My daughter and her friends were too young to go on their own. I was the only parent who'd even consider it (they actually weren't that bad).

    Saw The Stones once. They were having a "bad night" and so did the rest of us — almost two hours after the so-so warm up band before they made it to the stage. They shouldn't have bothered. Awful.

    Some great live performances: The Kinks, Bonnie Raitt (that voice live will give you shivers), Bob Seeger (twice), Alice Cooper, The Beach Boys (they were SO old, but still entertaining), Little River Band. There are more but some of the memories of my concert-going days are a bit, um, fuzzy.

    OH! The most fun concert ever was outside at a baseball stadium, at night, in the pouring rain: The Eagles, Steve Miller Band and Pablo Cruise. I hadn't been a big fan of Steve Miller Band before that, but man, did they put on a good show. All three bands did, that night. They were dry (covered stage), but the entire audience was soaking wet and having a blast.

    Don't have the desire to fight the crowds anymore either, but I'd love to see Trans-Siberian Orchestra live.

    Thanks, Allison, now I feel so old. 😉

  21. Barbie

    There's only ONE band in the world I really wish I could see in concert! I never, EVER, thought I would. When I started loving The Cranberries, in 2004/2005, they were split up. I never thought they'd play together again. Last year, they did, they started playing together, world tour. Then, earlier this year, they came on a South American tour, even to Brazil, but the concerts were far and expensive and my mom didn't think it would be nice for me to travel alone just for a concert.

    I could NEVER have imagined that less than a year later they'd be back here, in Brazil. I could NEVER have imagined, they'd include my town — my crappy little town in the Northeast of Brazil — knowingly the "poor" part of the country, where no one bothers to go.

    I saw The Cranberries live last night — one of the best things ever! I'm thoroughly "concert" accomplished for the rest of my life! 🙂

  22. Debbie

    Barbie, I love wonderful stories like that. Btw, I was just telling someone today that as a result of the office space post, every time you comment, I picture you in your writing space, the view from the window and the horses. It makes me feel like it's more personal, we're more connected.
    Glad you've been fulfilled!

  23. Jake Nantz

    I had a great gig when I was fresh out of college. Two summers I worked handing out wristbands at Blockbuster Pavilion in Charlotte. I got to choose my shows, and about halfway through the headliner's set, we were cut loose and could enjoy the rest of the show free from the grass. I was surprised LA Guns was so good live, and Poison as well. I was supremely pissed the Tommy Lee wasn't with the Crue when they came to town, but I got some Metallica and also some Soundgarden, so it was all good. Went to see U2 with Muse opening. U2 was F-A-R better, don't get the recent fawning over Muse, sorry.

    Recent bands I want to see? Flyleaf

    Nickelback protege: Theory of a Dead Man (videos are pretty racy but I love the songs…sorry)


    Oh, and I would love for my wife and I to get to Australia to see Hillsong:

    As for bands I wish I'd had the chance to see? Led Zeppelin, The Who (when they were still THE WHO), Van Halen in their prime, and the original lineup of G'n'R

  24. Gayle Carline

    First of all, I've seen the Divine Miss M twice and would see her again. Hell, I'd see her every night, except she'd probably get a restraining order.

    As to bands… took the teenager to see the Who (twice), Eagles, Clapton & Winwood. All great shows, even for a bunch of old farts. I also took him to Weird Al Yankovic. Can I tell you how disconcerting it is to see your son smushed into the front row, singing along with Weird Al on the song "Albuquerque" because he knows all the words?

    In my own youth, I've seen Chicago, the Guess Who, Foghat, Bruce Springsteen, Huey Lewis & the News, Hiroshima, Al Jarreau, Peter Frampton, Don McLean, the Bee Gees, (call me eclectic, ok), umm…. probably more that I can't remember. All good.

    Oh, yeah – saw Sting once. I went to the concert by myself. Got a pretty good seat 'cuz I was a single. One one side of me, there were two guys who were SOOOO drunk/stoned, they didn't know what concert they were at. On the other side, there was a VERY sober woman who had SHEET MUSIC she was using to follow along with Sting. At some point, I was certain they were all gonna throw down, with me in the middle. But Sting was good.

  25. Allison Brennan

    Stephen, Three Days Grace is amazing. I like all their stuff, but I think their One-X album is a hair better than Life Starts Now. LIFE has all around great songs–no duds–but ONE-X has some songs that just stand out as superior. They also did a fantastic warm-up for Nickelback in getting the audience enthused. Buckcherry played first and I wasn't as impressed with them. They're fine, good rock, but nothing stand-out.

    KD, I am so eff-ing jealous that you saw The Who. If I really had to pick my one all-time favorite band, The Who would be in my top three. (I couldn't pick a fave, ha.) And I agree, Steve Miller in concert is better than their album music. I've seen them twice.

    Okay, one piece of trivia that most people don't know about me, and JT and Toni would be absolutely in shock if they ever read this comment . . . I've been to 18 Grateful Dead concerts. Haven't been to one in over 20 years, but I did enjoy them for a time. The concerts (particularly Frost at Stanford, which were several of those 18) were always fun.

  26. Catherine

    I'd also like to see Mumford and Sons play. My daughter saw them perform in an alleyway festival earlier this year. She said the band was blown away that they that many people singing along to all the words. Apparently at the time they weren't getting that reaction in England. I've had 'Little Lion Man' as my ring tone for months. Makes me smile each time I hear it.

    I'd also like to see Florence and The Machine live. Again going on the basis of my daughter's review. My daughter said she was blown away by her stagecraft. This tall red haired woman totally owning the stage.

    A few years ago I saw a local Australian band, 'The Cat Empire' perform at a nearby festival. They had a mix of brass instruments, hugely funky beat, an unusually voiced lead singer…oh just percussion instruments that just pull you to your feet to dance. The stage was set into a natural amphitheatre and the full moon rose up over a mountain behind the stage. The energy at the performance was so infectious. I saw people of all ages whirling and twisting, stomping and singing along.

    I've just been looking through some youtube videos from that time and they have such a dodgy aussie boy vibe going I'm not sure how they got away with it.

    Allison really 18? They shows some staying power on your part.

  27. Reine (Marie-Reine)

    Pari, I love Bette Midler. Saw her at the Greek Theatre in LA – long, long time ago. I would go back in time to see that… August 11, 1983.

    Another place and time I would go back to would be Café Paradiso in Harvard Square to hear Joan Baez again. Sort of depressing, but I liked being depressed back then… 19??

  28. Reine (Marie-Reine)

    Oh Debbie, hi! Thanks! See post above. What a nice thing, to be thought of. My son PJ came to visit.

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