Music, appearance, energy , volume all play an important part in performing live to an audience to keep them captivated the entire show. But there is one other important feature that enables one to remember a certain show for a much more longer period of time. And that is Visual Effects. It doesn’t matter how charged up a band is, there’s nothing better than adding stage atmosphere.
I have seen a great number of bands perform, from Yes to the Ramones, Cheap Trick to Disturbed, The Cure to Korn, whether at a college, small nite club, indoor arena or outside stadium. Although the bands i just listed are only a handful of them, they have to be the best performers of their time as far as music and energy goes in my opinion. I do have to comment though on the Ramones here for a minute. I was a Junior in High School when I first started listening to the Ramones. I think I saw them 10 times in that one year alone, covering the entire length of the state of New Jersey. The smaller the club or college, the better it always was. The Ramones and Patti Smith were the underground revelation of Punk Rock. I remember being pinned to the front of the stage at several clubs as everyone behind me had the need to push forward. I remember the 1,2,3, 4 !! DeeDee would bellow out and then a minute and a half later the song was over. I remember every person in the audience was just as covered in sweat as the band was. Rest in peace Joey Ramone. I also remember you stood next to bouncers against the stage. There wasn’t this gap between the crowd and the band with bouncers in between as there are now. Stage front meant just that.
We all know that 20 years ago there was never a sticker on the 8-Track tape or cassette labeling the contents as explicit , or a parent needing to accompany their child in order to purchase it. Times have changed. Its rare now to listen to a rock band and NOT hear bad language. I’m not basing any of this on lyrics. The bands below have a lasting memory with me and are considered to be the best visually entertaining bands I have seen and well worth the price of tickets.
#5. Cheap Trick – now don’t laugh, this was a long time ago. Visual effects may have been lacking, but visual sure wasn’t! Robin Zander, in that white suit, with his long hair flowing, his voice echoing out to the crowd! Rick Nielsen, his checkered guitar, his checkered sneakers, his variety of shapes his guitars came in, his ability to play more than one at a time! Bun E. Carlos, the dude with the hat and never ending chain of cigarette smoking while playing the drums. Let’s not forget bassist, Tom Petersson. Not much to say except, well, just look at him! The late 70’s was where punk, new wave and electronic music began. If you were there at the time, then you know what I’m talking about.
#4. The first time I heard Godsmack was touring and coming to a venu near me back in August of 2001, I begged my teenage kids to go with me to see them. They were reluctant tho, because I played their cd’s to death. If I was home, I had the cds going all the time. If I was driving in the car, the cds came with me. I knew all the words to every song. They had great music, Sully’s awesome voice and great sound. Again, lyrics don’t count. After convincing them to go with me, I dragged my brother into it too and got my tickets on line. Well, finally concert day came and although it was an ampitheatre with seats under cover and lawn seats to the sides and rear, we were sitting 10 rows from the back. Not my favorite location, but we had seats. Although the concert was 6 years ago, I still remember the FIRE. There was fire exploding everywhere throughout their set. This concert was probably the best I have seen in a long time visually. I stood the entire length of the show. My kids loved it, as I knew they would.
#3. Next on my list for visual is TransSiberian Orchestra. Seeing this band live for the passed 3 years in a row, performing at 2 different venues, should tell you that this is one band worth seeing. Even though it is a Christmas oriented show for all ages, the special effects are amazing. From the beginning of the show, right to the end, its non-stop visual. Lazers, spotlights, strobe lights, fire, and explosions continually repeat throughout the set., right up to falling snow out over the audience. Not only are the performers on the main stage, but out in the audience opposite the stage, a scissor lift elevates band members 20 feet in the air as they continue to perform. TSO is not limited to just their Christmas show, the second half is all rock based music. This year Roger Daltry was their special guest and performed 3 Who songs with the TSO members. Yes, See Me, Feel Me of course was sung and none other than Pinball Wizard. There is always something visually changing. I would give this a 10 star rating for visual, a 10 star rating for audience enthusiasm and a 10 star rating for music and sound.
I will be submitting my final top two bands of all time very soon. Feel free to comment on anything you’ve read. Share your experiences, especially if you’ve seen the ones I have listed above.