By: Albert Rodriguez, Jessica Price and Jerry L. Peerson
SGN A&E Writers
Collectively, we went to every possible music venue in this city in search of great shows. Individually, we were each blown away and only mildly disappointed at what we saw and heard. Here's our lists of the best concerts we attended in 2011.
1 Paul Simon - WaMu Theater, April 15
To be in the same room with Paul Simon and to be treated to a solo acoustic version of "Sound of Silence" froze me completely - memorable, to say the very least. His tour kick-off at WaMu Theater also featured unforgettable offerings of "Late in the Evening", Kodachrome" and "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes".
2 Esperanza Spalding - Newmark Theatre (Portland, Oregon), February 25
The newly minted Best New Artist-Grammy winner closed the Portland Jazz Festival with a hometown performance that was confident, sleek and resplendent.
3 Eddie Vedder - Benaroya Hall, July 15
Strumming his newfound toy, an authentic ukulele, Vedder wowed a full house with a harmonious set of solo and Pearl Jam favorites. "Rise" and "Arc" were highlights.
4 Mavis Staples - Mural Amphitheatre at Seattle Center (Bumbershoot Festival), September 4
Church under the Space Needle? Yes, ma'am! Courtesy of gospel-soul icon Staples, who practically washed away our sins with a little help from the holy ghost itself.
5 U2 - Qwest Field, June 4
Egos aside, Bono and company bulldozed through a set list at then-Qwest Field that included "Pride (In the Name of Love)", "Vertigo" and "Mysterious Ways". It was massive in size and generous in length, and yes I'm referring to the show.
6 Bettye LaVette - Dimitriou's Jazz Alley, February 3
No stranger to my year-end concerts list, LaVette tore it up at Dimitriou's Jazz Alley with a blistering set of original and cover songs. Memo to self: Never miss Bettye LaVette live.
7 Fleet Foxes - Moore Theatre, May 2
Landing on two of the Foxes' actual birthdays, this show - one of back-to-back sold out performances - was remarkable for brilliant renditions of "Grown Ocean" and "The Shrine/An Argument".
8 Katy Perry - Key Arena, July 20
Bubbly, quirky, at times plain silly, Perry's sweettoothed summer concert was surprisingly a blast.
9 Crystal Castles - The Showbox SoDo, March 8
Not only did I survive Alice Glass' screeching vocals lathered on top of throbbing drumbeats and whizzing keyboards, I was also in desperate need of a shower and ear exam when I left.
10 Sade - Key Arena, August 14
Sultry and ultra smooth, Sade's first Seattle appearance in nearly ten years was riveting. "Cherish the Day" atop an elevated platform still makes me swoon.
1 Portishead - WaMu Theater, October 23
An unlikely show that left the entire WaMu Theater speechless with its perfection.
2 DeVotchKa - Paramount Theatre, March 5
DeVotchKa is a passionate band; their appearance at the Paramount lived up to this, while unveiling the majesty of their newest album, 100 Lovers.
3 Handsome Furs - Neumos, September 10
"Crowd favorites" is the best way to describe Handsome Furs. Their enthusiasm is positively infectious.
4 Cut Copy - The Showbox SoDo, April 12
The old school rave-like feel of Cut Copy's Showbox SoDo show was fitting, considering Cut Copy's fantastic Zonoscope was recorded in a warehouse.
5 The Church - The Triple Door, February 7
Performing no less than three albums back to back (Untitled #23, Priest = Aura, and Starfish), The Church proved they are light years from being a nostalgia act.
6 The Kills - The Showbox at the Market, May 9
The Kills are the hottest thing going in dirty, electrified blues rock these days. Jamie Hince and Alison Mosshart's Showbox appearance proved why the duo is new rock royalty.
7 British Sea Power - Neumos, April 2
British Sea Power delivered a solid set of intelligent anthems after a three-year absence from playing the US.
8 The Horrors - Neumos, September 8
While no one was looking, The Horrors circa 2011 have become a completely different band. A set made up mostly of Primary Colors and Skying revealed another step forward in the band's self-discovery.
9 Ladytron - The Showbox at the Market, September 29
Any time Ladytron hits Seattle, they blow the doors off the club. This show, booked as part of Seattle's Decibel Festival, emphasized how many memorable songs Ladytron has released since 1999.
10 Pains of Being Pure at Heart w/ Twin Shadow - The Crocodile, April 22
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart played a memorable double bill with Brooklyn-based Twin Shadow at The Crocodile; one of the best pairings of the year.
JERRY L. PEERSON
1 Other Lives - Tractor Tavern, December 11
The 2011 release Tamer Animals is one of the most gorgeous records I've heard in years and along with their hypnotic and nearly infallible live performances, I predict a very successful 2012 for Other Lives.
2 Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings - The Showbox Market, November 10
An evening with Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings is truly a complete package; theatrics, musicianship at its finest, and a front-woman with the voice, personality, moves, and repertoire to keep you begging for more.
3 Flamenco Opera - Palau de la Musica (Barcelona, Spain), November 14
A surreal night in Barcelona with authentic first-class singing, dancing, and of course, flamenco guitar. Who could ask for more?
4 Fleet Foxes - Paramount Theater, September 6
The Seattle sextet's rich and organic compositions are filled with mountainous imagery that, especially in the live setting, has the ability to send the listener off to peaceful castle-strewn lands.
5 Wye Oak - The Crocodile, August 9
Their albums are great, but the live show is something to behold. Andy Stack's unbelievable ability to be an entire rhythm section, along with the mammoth sound that the duet creates ensures a truly awe-inspiring event.
6 Little Dragon - Fisher Green Stage (Bumbershoot Festival), September 3
There was little green to be seen at Bumbershoot's "Green" stage, for the lawn was filled with jubilant bobbing and dancing as Sweden's Little Dragon performed a colorful and electrifying set.
7 Bon Iver - Paramount Theater, September 26
Front-man Justin Vernon converted his normally, quiet mountain sound to a one of the most passionate and rocking gems of the year.
8 Olaf Arnalds - Tractor Tavern, April 13
You could truly hear a pin drop as the audience stood in silence, listening intently as the quirky Icelandic singer-songwriter provided a most intimate, entertaining and lovely set.
9 DeadMau5 - Paramount Theatre, August 18
Joel Zimmerman, aka. Deadmau5, succeeds the unimaginable by transforming Seattle's Paramount Theater from its already grandiose self into a modern cathedral of dance.
10 Feist - Moore Theatrer, November 17
Leslie Feist's fans have to be some of the most devoted and surprisingly vocal. I don't know if the moon was full, but on this night, the Feist frenzy was undoubtedly in full effect.
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