9
Apr
2011
Random Pop Culture Question of the Week
FInal Performances
Random Pop Culture Question of the Week is a bi-weekly journey into the headspace of the Review to Be Named gang, in which a pop-culture question is posed, answers are sought, and discussions are generated about issues and hypotheticals from throughout the realm of pop culture.

This week's question comes from our own Ashley, who asked,
If you could have attended one band or artist's final concert, who would you choose? Stipulation: you have to choose a show other than the Beatles on the roof of Apple, because everyone would have trampled their grandmother to be at that show.
With that question in mind, here are the responses from several Review to Be Named contributors. Comment and let us know what we missed!

Jordan:

Picking a "final concert" is tough, if only because so many great bands go on way past their prime. I would have killed to see The Rolling Stones during their prime, for example, but now I feel like I would just see a shadow of their former glory, even if it was their last concert. And I would jump at the chance to have seen Bowie at Santa Monica in'72, right near the end of his Ziggy Stardust tour when he was playing a mixture of his greatest songs off of Ziggy Stardust, Hunky Dory, and Space Oddity, and throwing in a few phenomenal covers to boot (just check out this set list and tell me you wouldn't hurt a family member to be there).

Yet this isn't a question of which bands I want to see in their prime (if it was, the two aforementioned would be only part of my picks). In terms of final performances, there are two I would consider cutting off a limb to attend. If I could see The Velvet Underground at the end of their 1969 tour (the band broke up in August of 1970, just after they completed recording of Loaded), some of which is captured on their live album 1969: The Velvet Underground Live, I would be a very happy music fan. Yet my ultimate pick, even though again I might have preferred the band in their prime, would have been to see Queen's final performance before Freddie Mercury's death. I know this is technically not the band's last performance, seeing as they reunited and toured with Paul Rogers, but everyone knows that Freddie was Queen, and seeing the band without him would just be a waste of time and potential. If I could pick a date from the last tour, rather than his actual last performance, I would want to be there when the band played Wembley in 1986. I have seen that performance on film, but that obviously doesn't compare to being there live as the band brought down the house. Either way though, it would have been a pleasure and an honor to see Freddie perform at least once.



Ashley:

This is an easy answer for me: I would have wanted to be in the crowd in High Hall at Birmingham University on May 2, 1980, the location and date of Joy Division's final performance. The band was wrapping up the final leg of their European tour with a series of shows in the UK before departing for their first U.S. tour, having booked dates in Boston, New York, Chicago, and L.A. They were supported by A Certain Ratio, a band which had a similarly brief career (though they continued recording well into the 90s, they never produced anything that garnered mainstream attention after the mid-80s), though they would be cited as an influence by many post-punk acts to follow. The 11-song setlist, though it did not include "She's Lost Control" or "Love Will Tear Us Apart," has the distinct advantage of including the only live performance of "Ceremony," which was later remastered and released:



Given that "Ceremony" is perhaps my favorite song of all time, and that Joy Division is certainly near the top of my favorite bands list, I can't imagine a more mindblowing show to attend. I'm not sure whether or not, in this hypothetical, I would be attending the show with the knowledge that Ian Curtis would go on to commit suicide two weeks later, but either way, I'd probably cry through the entire set.

Rachel:

I fell in love with Jeff Buckley a long time ago. I have a Jeff Buckley pandora station that is so well-worn, I can basically predict the exact parade of songs that will play. And every time a different, non-Buckley cover of Hallelujah comes on, I immediately wretch and angrily slam the thumbs down button. If I was the kind of person who had a record player and still listened to vinyl (read: if I was the kind of person who could afford a record player and vinyl), my copy of Live at Sin-é would be worn completely through. While the performance that created that masterpiece took place in the summer of 1993 (in Buckley's favorite coffee shop in the East Village. I mean, come on, that is so many kinds of awesome), four years before Buckley's death by drowning in the Mississippi, I'd still want to see Buckley's last show.


When he died, Buckley was in Memphis waiting for his band to arrive to record the new material he'd been working on. For three months he played small, mostly solo shows every Monday night at a local bar called Barristers', which was underneath a parking garage. He was perfecting his new material, the place was small and intimate and perfectly suited for Buckley's sound (I've gathered from accounts). Considering Buckley died three days after his last show at Barristers', before any of that material was recorded, I'd give any number of limbs to have seen it.

Sam:

It may be the most obvious (non-Beatles) choice for me but I can't think of any other viable option. I'd love to be at the final performance of Neutral Milk Hotel as a full band in 1998. The leader and, to some, the band, Jeff Mangum has performed over the last few years to much surprise and joy from die-hard fans of his unique, wavering, whiny voice. This is a great development in that he's a notorious recluse and the main reason I picked this band"”they're never getting back together. Not for an album, not for a tribute concert, not even for all the great reasons they should be playing together. The band, consisting of other great talents like Scott Spilane and Julian Koster, all have moved on to their own artistic endeavors. But to be at the final concert of one of the most lauded (to some overly so) bands of the 90's would be an amazing experience.




Second-hand accounts and the few YouTube videos of their live shows show an absolute mess which would likely make the whole experience more immersive. NMH is not the band to see recreate its studio recording in a live setting. Rolling around, screaming blasting brass insruments (Euphonium FTW) would make the show all the more memorable. Maybe one day I'll see Mangum in some random hobo's Brooklyn shoe closet, but until then I'll have to settle for the grainy VHS transfers online.



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