Top 10 Concerts I’ve ever been to

There’s something about concerts that you can’t experience anywhere else. The vibe, the anticipation, the mounting excitement to see your favorite artist, the quality time spent with friends and the great night (day) out. It’s also pretty awesome to see the magnitude of the production going on on-stage, and to what extent a band is willing to go to put on a triumphant performance.

One of my goals since getting out of high-school (I’m a working man now, btw) was to attend as many rock concerts as possible – and I gotta say I’ve been fortunate enough to catch quite a few bands in action in the past decade – so without any further babble, here are the top 10 concerts Ive ever been to:

10 – Sepultura – Dubai Desert Rock, Dubai – March 2005

Now that’s an odd choice! but ill tell you why. This was the first ever true Rock/Metal show to take place in the region .. the hunger of the audience was palpable. When the Sepultura logo was raised as their backdrop, the crowd exploded .. saluting a friggin logo! For the first time, I felt being a part of real fans awaiting an arrival of a real band. The guys excelled when they played – one of the tightest performances I’ve seen, and most ‘metal’ if I may boldly state.

9 – Rage Against the Machine – Rock im Park, Germany – June 2008

After a 7 years hiatus, Rage made their return to europe and I was there to catch it. it was obvious that the majority of folks who came out to this particular festival, came out to see RATM. The field was full, and as the band kicked off their set, it was absolute awesomness … the havoc that was created was intense. the stage set-up was very simple, just a ‘Rage’ logo as the backdrop, and .. well, that’s pretty much it. the band relied on their skills and the strength of their songs to get people going .. and damn, they got people going hard. Zac Dela Roca surely has a way to get the audience fired up, and it isn’t through his crowd interaction, it was purely on his lyrics.

8 – Iron Maiden – Dubai Media City, Dubai – February 2009

This was the second time i had ever seen Maiden! But man, starting a show with ‘Aces High’ can never get you off to a bad start. The show seemed like it needed 3 generators to keep running! it was THAT energetic! the band were spot on, playing a mix of Maidens classics and some of the later tunes. Dickenson (Vocals) is a performer at heart – the man acts like he’s still in his mid-twenties, he runs around the massive stage in full speed, he sings off the top of his lungs with absolutely no off-notes and grabs the crowd in his palm! A great frontman, and a true legend. Not to mention the crowd ruled every song.

7 – Bon jovi – Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi – May 2008

I had mixed feelings about attending a Bon Jovi concert at the beginning, but with tons of classics under their belt, a bunch of friends and a mini-road trip to Abu Dhabi – how on earth could this go wrong!? and thank God almighty, it was a blast. Singing along to ‘You gave love a bad name’ was probably one of the most memorable experiences of my life. the band played a great and lengthy set, and the audience was as loud as any other BonJovi fanbase across the planet. Classics like ‘Livin on a prayer’, ‘Dead or Alive’, ‘Bad Medicine’ and ofcourse the flagship ‘You gave love a bad name’ rang across the arena. The sound was great, the fans were great, the vibe was immense, and the performance was pure Bon Jovi.

6 – Machine Head – Dubai Desert Rock, Dubai – March 2005

The year of anticipation. Machine Head made their Middle East debut in 2005. At a time when Machine Head albums weren’t even being sold in the country a month prior, the expectations were pretty low on the band front .. However, come 8 pm Dubai time  … as the legendary Machine Head played their first riff, it was evident that they were the true headliners of Dubai Desert Rock 2005! The crowd went into a state of absolute frenzy, singing every song they knew, jumping collectively as one, and rockin’ hard like their life depended on it. Flynn (vocals) is a great frontman, he interacted with the crowd, played with passion and prepared a surprise to the audience: He brought out Andreas Kisser of Sepultura to perform Metallicas Creeping Death with MH. I remember reading a review the next day in 7-Days (local paper), praising the performance of MH and the fans who, for the first time, showed journalists that these were real fans, and not random people coming to spend a day out. What made the show was the real connection between the band and the audience.

5 – Slipknot – Sonisphere Barcelona, Spain – July 2009

When I was a toddler .. well not a toddler, but younger, I used to be a huge Slipknot fan. As I grew up though, my interest decreased and I pretty much dismissed them for my later discoveries in music. But standing amongst 60,000 people in Barcelona, I was pretty excited to revisit my younger years, the excitement was infectious. as the 9 members of Slipknot walked on stage and kicked off with their brutal ‘Sic’ – I knew this was going to be something special. The production was massive, the band where pretty much insane .. and I mean insane in a ‘not-mentally-right’ type of way. Theres something about watching 9 masked men destroy a stage and play heavy music that makes a show really damn fun to watch. The crowd interaction was awesome, Corey Taylor really knows how to pump up some angry teenagers and .. well, post-angry teenagers trying relive the good ol’ days

4 – Guns n’ Roses – Yas Island, Abu Dhabi –  December 2010

Watching Axl scream the words ‘Do you know where you are!? Youre in the jungle baybeh, and youre gonna diiiieeee” is probably one of the most Rock n’ Roll moments I have ever witnessed. Axl Rose is one of the last true remaining Rock stars out there today, and seeing him live only confirms that notion. The man pulled a 2.5 hour set in the utmost sense of rocking – his voice still intact, and his gear as rockin’ as ever … did i say rockin’ enough? the (new) GnR were a power house in every sense. relentless playing, running, jumping, jamming and bowing (yeah, bowing) to fill the 2.5 hour slot they were assigned. In all of my concert-going experiences, I have never seen a reception to a song as loud as it was for ‘Sweet Child O Mine’ … that blew me away. Axl, you still got the pipes, and the larger-than-life rocker charisma that is lacking in many artists and bands today. A special mention goes out to the breathtaking outro of Paradise City, which put an amazing ending to a superb show.

3 – Cold Play – Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi – March 2009

This was one of the most special musical events Ive ever been to. It was perfect. The Rain, the sound, the music, the band, the crowd … the planets had aligned for this one night, and it was pure and absolute magic. This was one of those rare occasions where you feel a 20,000 strong audience actually felt like a small intimate setting. Cold Play performed like they were our heroes, and the crowd sang every word. goosebumps moments were plenty on that day – from the rain falling while we all sang ‘Fix You’ .. to the butterfly confetti falling as Mr. Martin played on his Piano. I’m not the biggest Cold Play fan, but this was a special night … everyone who was there still speaks of that show, nearly 2 years on.

2 – Roger Waters, The Wall Live – Madison Square Garden, New York – October 2010

A paragraph does not do this show justice. The brilliance of Roger Waters is portrayed excellently throughout every second of this 2 hour show. From the pyrotech, to the actors, to the massive .. MASSIVE production, to the building of the wall, to the projections on the wall, to tearing down the wall, to the absolutely flawless performance of the Roger Waters band. It was exceptional. This was a visual experience as it was a musical one – the HD visuals on the wall complimented the classic Pink Floyd sound and took it to another level. The music was remarkable, watching the Comfortably Numb solo being played on the top of the wall, with 3D surround sound was something soul satisfying. this was closer to a broadway show than it was a concert – definitely a great tribute to the 70’s masterpiece .

1 – METALLICA – Rock Im Park, Germany – June 2008

I was hoping Waters could top this – but by God, There is not one band on this planet that could come close to the might of James Hetfield and his comrades. Metallica makes a statement when they play, and that is: We’re the biggest band on the planet, and we’re going to prove it. As the ‘Ecstasy of gold’ started filling a field of 80,000 strong … the audience became one, it was remarkable. everyone’s eyes were glued to the stage in anticipation of the metal kings to come out – As Hetfield made his way to the center, it was – by far – the most memorable concert experience I have ever had. After 13 years of being a fan, there he was .. in the flesh .. standing there doing that ‘Hamster smile’ we all know and love, with his arms open and accepting the 80,000 roars … it … was … earth shattering. The band performs as a tightly-knit unit, with absolute fluidity. Hetfields presence was immense, commanding and determined. the sound was large, thanks to Metallicas long-life engineer, Big Mic. The massive screen that covered their backdrop displayed awesome captures of the concert as it was happening. Hetfield, Ulrich, Hammet and Trujillio all have their own big personalities which makes the show even larger, and more entertaining to watch. The lights and production at many Metalli-show is sure to drop jaws .. but the most awesome part was, the true fans. 80,000 singing every single friggin word uttered by Hetfield .. it was great to be able to enjoy it with such a passionate fanbase.

there ya have it – my top 10 experiences! Ofcourse there are honorable mentions going out to Megadeth, Queen + Paul Rodgers, Korn, Motorhead, Kanye West (2005), Aerosmith (2009), Alter Bridge, Opeth, and Robert Plant. But the above were the ones that had a profound impact on me ..

Ah yes, concerts … a feeling of unity amongst thousands who couldn’t have been more different from you, a feeling of family amongst fans who attend a venue for the same purpose. A sense of connection with musicians you’ve grown up listening to. and ofcourse, an amazingly memorable and great time with your close friends and family.

Heres hoping to see the legendary David Gilmour one day!

Thats all I got! enjoy


About baselanabtawi

Everything should have a little Rock n' Roll attitude, doesnt it?

Posted on December 18, 2010, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Iron Maiden in 2009 was definitely one for the books! The energy and performance of the band really showed us that Iron Maiden is still alive and kicking! I remember having a huge smile during the entire concert that my face hurt!

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