Coming after my top 50 album list, which I published over the last couple of days, I present the 50 best, fun, memorable concerts, of which I can remember the exact date (or still own the ticket). As far as Prince is concerned: I only selected the best show of each tour, otherwise this would have been a Prince list.
50. Outkast, Ahoy Rotterdam, 07/13/2014 (North Sea Jazz)
As part of the North Sea Jazz festival, so maybe not a real regular show, this was the prefect ending to this NSJ day. Top music!
49. The Cure, Sportpark Geleen, 05/19/1986 (Pinkpop)
Fantastic closing set of a beautiful Pinkpop Festival day. Setting son, surrounded by lovely people and all (personal) favorites being played.
48. Lauryn Hill, Westergasfabriek Amsterdam, 05/28/1999 (Drum Rhythm Festival)
She started too late, but what a performance! She had surrounded herself with top musicians and her voice was in great shape.
47. Prince, Ahoy Rotterdam, 07/08/1992
The Diamonds And Pearls tour, his worst tour (I have seen). Too much inferior ‘rapping’ by ‘rapper’ Tony M. Despite that there were some great highlights (Thieves In The Temple/It). This show in particular, because about five minutes after the show ended Prince and band returned to the stage for an extra encore (Call The Law).
46. U2, De Kuip Rotterdam, 07/19/1997
The tour linked with my favorite U2 album Pop. I thought the mix of rock and dance was a daring one and they pulled it off magnificently; also during this show.
45. The Specials, Paradiso Amsterdam, 09/14/2011
A packed Paradiso, end of the summer. The Specials with great emphasis on More Specials. Could it be any better?
44. David Sylvian, Vredenburg Utrecht, 10/11/2001
With my friend Bram to my (and his) youth idol. A reasonably pop-oriented concert. Luckily David brought along his brother Steve Jansen; a joy to watch. A special concert by a special man.
43. The Ramones, Paradiso Amsterdam, 06/08/1988
The loudest concert I ever witnessed. Later on I learned that the sound level was a by product of an utterly drunk soundman. My ears rang for days after the show. But the show itself was everything you want from a Ramones show!
42. The Family Stand, Waerdse Tempel Heerhugowaard, 02/10/2007
And suddenly news came: The Family Stand would play Heerhugowaard. After their beautiful Moon In Scorpio album it grew silent around this great band and they quit. They reunited in 2006 and began to tour their new album (Super Sol Nova) in 2007. The day after they would play to a sold-out Paradiso. After entering the venue we felt like there was something wrong. About 25 people were in attendance. Was it cancelled, were we in the wrong room? No, this was the audience for tonight! The band came on and played their complete 2 hour set, completely inspired and full-on. Such intimate shows I could remember from my teens with local obscure punk bands. A very special evening!
41. Morrissey, Vredenburg Utrecht, 10/28/2014
Start off with The Queen Is Dead and then the real show has yet to begin and then making it a night to remember is something not much performers can pull off. A very moving Asleep. Morrissey played a great great show!
40. Paul McCartney, Ziggo Dome Amsterdam, 06/08/2015
An entry on my bucket-list this man. The concert was enchanting. He blew my expectations through the roof and then playing (the unbeknownst to me) Temporary Secretary as the highlight of the evening. Enjoyed the show long after it was finished!
39. Sezen Aksu, Carré Amsterdam, 02/15/2016
As stated in Album top 50, numbers 50 to 26, I am very happy to get to know Sezen Aksu’s music. Seen her several times and the last time was the most moving one.
38. Roxy Music, Ahoy Rotterdam, 09/13/2001
This we, my sisters, my mother and me, had to see. Got the tickets and on the day of the show my mother fell ill. No chance to see her hero! We went anyway and they were great. The dvd shot during this tour (Live At The Apollo) is definitely worth your time!
37. Wendy & Lisa, Paradiso Amsterdam, 04/29/1989
On October 17th 1986 Prince releases a press statement making it known that The Revolution is disbanded and want to go back to doing everything himself again. Unexpected news, because the trilogy Purple Rain, Around The World In A Day and Parade was out-of-this-world good. One of the consequences was that two of the most iconinc members of The Revolution got to make music together. At the time of this show the albums Wendy & Lisa and Fruit At The Bottom were released (personal favorite Eroica was released one year later). Especially Waterfall is one of my favorite songs of all time. The concert took place on Koninginnedag (Queen’s day).
36. George Clinton, Vredenburg Utrecht, 01/22/1990
When we entered the venue Clinton’s P-Funk All Stars had just started: Chocolate City. What stood out was the enormous number of musicians; it seemed like there were 50. A constant coming and going of people who seemed to randomly pick up an instrument and did something with it, audible or not. Clinton walked around a bit, gave a hint here and there and shouted: Shit, goddamn , get off your ass and jam! But everything fit, the groove was irresistible, the show indescribably good and musical. I remember it went on and on for more than three hours. A real great evening!
35. Eels, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, 06/26/2014
Eels in a small(er) (more) intimate setting: success guaranteed!
34 Underworld, Paradiso Amsterdam, 03/24/2015
Tour supporting the re-release of Dubnobasswithmyheadman. Paradiso completely upside down from start to finish!
33. Radiohead, Ziggo Dome Amsterdam, 10/14/2012
Band in great shape, visually and musically. An experience everybody should witness at least one time in their leifetime.
32. Prince, Brabanthallen Den Bosch, 08/10/1993
Show in the context of the Act II tour. An ok tour. This show particularly for the (heavily rocking) encore: Peach including, at the time unknown, Chaos And Disorder.
31. D’Angelo, Paradiso Amsterdam, 01/31/2012
After years and years it was suddenly announced that D’Angelo would come to Amsterdam. I had to be there: and rightfully so. A lot of new, and promising material. After the show it was announced that an extra show was added to the (short) European tour. This was to be a night concert, also at the Paradiso on February 10th 2012. Got tickets to that show as well, which became my son Rachid’s concert-baptism.
30. The Waterboys, Paradiso Amsterdam, 12/06/2014
The Waterboys were going to be filmed for a new movie (Waterboys) which was going to be created by Robert Jan Westdijk, in which (the music of) The Waterboys plays an integral part. The film is being made now and will be released later on in the year. The energy that the band portrayed was electrifying!
29. Kraftwerk, Paradiso Amsterdam, 01/16/2015
Kraftwerk and Catalogue at Paradiso. 8 nights in a row, every night a different album that played a special role. I bought tickets to the Autobahn and Trans Europe Express shows. An experience, quadraphonic sound, beautiful animations. Very happy to have seen this!
28. Smashing Pumpkins, Paradiso Amsterdam, 07/26/2013
Favorite Smashing Pumpkins in a broiling Paradiso: extremely goed!
27. U2, Ziggo Dome Amsterdam, 09/13/2015
Their latter albums are rather bad. U2 seemed irrelevant. I got tickets to this show at the last moment, to which I went with Rachid. We were blown away by a hungry, energetic and motivated U2. Closing with Bad and “40”; The best U2 show I witnessed, by far!
26. The Waterboys, Vredenburg Utrecht, 03/17/2012
Tour in the context of their fantastic album An Appointment With Mr. Yeats. The evening became as good as the album.
25. Prince, Flanders Expo Ghent, Belgium, 12/28/1998
Concert in the context of tour New power soul festival. During this show it became apparent that Prince felt something special for his Belgian audience. He was clearly very motivated. Just his entrance alone in the centre of the room (I am here, where are u?)!
24. Nick Cave, World Forum Theater The Hague, 05/16/2015
Nick Cave solo, or Nick Cave with a small cast of The Bad Seeds. In a stately, seated, theater. A couple of songs into the show, during a phenomenal Higgs Boson Blues, Cave climbs over the stairs to get close to the audience. Hearing Cave, with stripped down versions of The Weeping Song, Love Letter, Into My Arms, The Ship Song and regular show closers The Mercy Seat followed by Jubilee Street, is overwhelming. A fantastic experience! A show that once more proves the urgency, vitality and greatness of Nick Cave.
23. Sufjan Stevens, Carré Amsterdam, 09/24/2015
The Carrie & Lowell tour. Can’t believe I discovered Sufjan Stevens this late. A truly enchanting evening. Surrounded by excellent musicians he performed his latest album as a whole, but different to the album. After this some top songs in his works: Holland, Casimir Pulaski Day, Chicago!
22. Prince, Paradiso Amsterdam, 08/11/2013
Another one of the last-minute Prince shows. Announced on August 9th, playing two sold out shows on one day, the first being the best. New band (3rd Eye Girl), new music, heavily rooted in hardrock. He was extremely inspired and the volume was Concorde level. Excellent day.
21. Bruce Springsteen, De Kuip Rotterdam, 06/29/1988
My first Springsteen. The Tunnel Of Love express tour. Incredibly good show, Springsteen would never sound this soulful again. The vast horn section fit the new (and old) material like a glove. From this concert on Bruce became one of favorites.
20. Prince, Stadion De Galgenwaard Utrecht, 06/21/1987
Concert in the context of Sign O’ The Times tour. This night he, due to heavy rains, didn’t play Forever In My Life, unfortunately. But a great show it was!
19. Lenny Kravitz, Paradiso Amsterdam, 12/13/1989
Let Love Rule was just released and Lenny Kravitz was someone I wanted to see. In a packed Paradiso he played an excellent show. One year later I saw him again and it was considerably less than this night. He was sovereign this night.
18. The Rolling Stones, De Kuip Rotterdam, 05/18/1990
The first time I would see the Stones. The audience was very annoying and aggressive (funny to notice the different audience composition per artist), but the show was impressive!
17. Public Enemy, Paradiso Amsterdam, 08/30/1992
As stated in my album top 50, this was one of the most exciting shows I ever witnessed.
16. Prince, Paradiso Amsterdam, 03/26/1995
Aftershow. The only time I bought tickets on the black market (5 times the original price). Great night, during which the audience genuinely enlightened Prince’s spirits as he got to talk about his troubles with Warner Bros. When the audience began shouting Fuck Warner Bros, he broadly smiled and proposed to bring the audience to the first new negotiations with Warner: That would be some funny shit, right there!
15. Prince, Paradiso Amsterdam, 03/25/1995
Aftershow. Never got so close to the stage at Paradiso. Funky, funky, funky, this show was funky (the next night was rock oriented; see number 16).
14. Iggy Pop, Paradiso Amsterdam, 12/04/1999
Iggy Pop was 52 years old at the time, I was 33. The energy level differed immensely. Like a whirlwind Iggy stormed the stage and got through a set of (lots of) Stooges material and his own career. All with the same kind of spirit, commitment and surrender. Unforgettable and impressive!
13. Arcade Fire, Heineken Music Hall Amsterdam, 11/13/2007
Favorite ever since debut Funeral. Dit concert took place in the context of The Neon Bible. At the end of the show it almost seemed like the whole room lifted off. Beautiful!
12. LCD Soundsystem, Paradiso Amsterdam, 05/04/2010
It seemed a good idea to my sister Mirja and me to visit the national remembrance Dodenherdenking at Dam Square before seeing thew show. That year there was a person who thought it was a great idea to start a panic. A mob of people suddenly came running towards where we were standing. Quite scary. Luckily we were on our way to Paradiso to see one of he best bands ever. An excellent show!
11. Prince, IJsstadion Thialf Heerenveen, 08/05/1990
The Nude tour. In Heerenveen? Yes, as a kind of compensation for the rain induced shows at Rotterdam in June. And it became a memorable show. The best version of Purple Rain ever and the introduction of (the then not released) The Flow and Thieves In The Temple. Great night!
10. Bruce Springsteen, Sportpaleis Antwerp, Belgium, 06/23/2008
The Magic tour would also be coming to Belgium: at the Koning Boudewijn stadium. Due to the many concerts that summer ticket sales were poor. The concert was moved to the (indoor) Sportpaleis, making it the only show of the tour that didn’t take place outdoors. Our luck. On a beautiful summer day in the Sportpaleis, which was extremely hot even before the show started. It was an unforgettable experience. We had a great view of the stage, The E Street band seemed very pleased to be in a smaller, more intimate venue and were very committed and clearly enjoying themselves!
9. Prince, Sportpaleis Antwerp, Belgium 11/08/2010
Prince loves Belgium. At the start of the concert it was immediately clear that this was going to be special. The regular setlist was thrown out of the window and the show started with an extremely funky Controversy. The show lasted 3 hours and all the encores were beautiful (Prince playing bass to Forever In My Life). One of the most special Prince nights in my life!
8. Prince, Sportpaleis Antwerp, Belgium 05/27/2014
Two days after the disappointing Ziggo Dome show Prince was in Antwerp, Belgium. At this show too, it was immediately clear this was going to be special. And what kind of party it was: Prince kept on pushing the band and the audience into a complete frenzy: the Sportpaleis was turned upside down!
See also: 5 years ago I witnessed Prince live for the very last time, in Antwerp.
7. Prince, Ahoy Rotterdam, 07/09/2011
3 so called plusconcerts would Prince do during the North Sea Jazz Festival. Every night would be different than the other two and he delivered. Unfortunately, the first show as barred by bad sound and an uninspired setlist. The day after he had something to prove, which he obviously did: he opened the show with Joy In Repetition and followed it with The Love We Make. He lost himself completely during the performance. Stunning. The day after this one was also very special, but day 2 of his North Sea Jazz shows was definitely the best!
6. Bruce Springsteen, Palais d’Omnisports Bercy Paris, France, 07/05/2012
The Bruce concert: I have never seen him this good. He played the entire Darkness On The Edge Of Town album (after Tunnel Of Love my favorite album), so that meant I finally got to see him play Racing In The Street live: 10 minutes long, an unforgettable version, which brought me to tears.
5. Nick Cave, Heineken Music Hall Amsterdam, 11/04/2013
After 24 years once again off to see Nick Cave. Nothing could have prepared me for this show. I was complete blown away and I wasn’t the only one. I have seldom seen an audience so quiet and fixated on the music and the artist as the crowd that night. Impressive!
4. D’Angelo, Paradiso Amsterdam, 03/02/2015
After more than 45 minutes of waiting D’Angelo finally appeared on stage. After just one note the long wait was forgotten and forgiven. This was going to be an absolutely stellar evening, that was immediately clear. It didn’t; it was even better than that. At the time of the closing Untitled (How Does It Feel?) the entire audience lay at his feet. Classic!
3. Prince, Sportpaleis Antwerp, Belgium 10/18/2002
In the context of The Rainbow Children. At the time Prince ran his own website and club: NPG Music Club. I was a member and as a result I not only got at least (!) one hours worth of music every month, but also was able to get concert tickets at pre-sale and preferred seating. At the day of the show you could sit in on rehearsals and, in case of an aftershow, could attend that as well. In Antwerp the rehearsal was an entire show in itself. Prince played a lot of guitar during the 1,5 hours. The regular show that night was spectacular. This tour Prince seemed reborn. One of the most special concert experiences in my life!
2. Prince, Westfalenhalle Dortmund, Germany, 09/09/1988
As stated in my album top 50, this show was special. Not just because of the predominantly Dutch audience (in Germany in the year that Holland won the European Football cup), but also because this show was being recorded for television and (eventually) a video release.
See also: 30 years ago, the most special show I ever witnessed.
1. Prince & The Revolution, Ahoy Rotterdam, 08/18/1986
The best show I have ever seen. The soulrevue Prince performed here was out of this world. Besides that: I have seen The Revolution: maybe not his best band, but most definitely his most special. It would never be any better than this! Setlist: Around The World In A Day / Christopher Tracy’s Parade / New Position / Manic Monday / I Wonder U / Raspberry Beret / Delirious / Controversy / A Love Bizarre / Do Me, Baby / How Much Is That Doggie In The Window? / Lady Cab Driver (instrumental) / Automatic / D.M.S.R. / When Doves Cry / Little Red Corvette / Under The Cherry Moon / Anotherloverholenyohead / 17 Days (incl. I Wanna Be Your Lover, instrumental coda) / Head / Pop Life / Girls & Boys / Life Can Be So Nice / 1999 // America (incl. Spanish Key, Cold Sweat, The Roof Is On Fire, More Bounce To The Ounce) / Kiss // Purple Rain
See also: 30 years ago, the best show I ever witnessed.
Artist (number of attended shows; 3 times or more)
- Prince (41)
- Bruce Springsteen (8)
- U2 (6)
- Sezen Aksu, Nick Cave, D’Angelo, The Waterboys (5)
- Arcade Fire, Kraftwerk, Iggy Pop (3)
Prince & The Revolution live image: rollingstone.com