December 27, 2004
Section: Arts & Entertainment
Edition: Morning Final
THE YEAR'S BEST CONCERTS
MARIAN LIU, Mercury News
Some concerts make me feel this job is more fun than work. The best performances remind me why I fell in love with the artists, or make me like them when I didn't before. It's nice when you find something worth the price of a ticket.
Verizon Ladies First Tour featuring Beyonce, Alicia Keys and Missy Elliott at Oakland Coliseum Arena (April 18): This concert had three headliners for the price of one. Powerhouse rapper Missy Elliott raced through her set and Beyonce showed her solo chops onstage, but Alicia Keys was my favorite with her smooth, velvety voice and her willingness to come out from behind the piano and dance.
Mos Def and Jin at 550 Barneveld, San Francisco (Oct. 21): This concert was one of the best I went to all year. Both MCs were completely gratifying. Jin killed the mike and showed that Asian-Americans deserve a place in hip-hop. Mos Def also demonstrated his versatility at this show, rap-rocking and crooning. This was also the most diverse show I've been to, in terms of age, clothes and ethnicity.
Ladies Sing the Blues at Pete Escovedo's Latin Jazz Club, San Jose (Aug. 27): Besides the Beyonce lineup and the past No Doubt one (with Garbage and the Distillers), there are few all-female-fronted bills. This show showed that women can rise to the challenge with the best of them, and add a little attitude. The three women (Denise Perrier, Kim Nalley and Lady Mem'fis) made me proud to be a woman. Also Pete Escovedo's club has to be my favorite downtown San Jose joint. It's wonderfully luxurious inside.
Not So Silent Night at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium (Dec. 10): The show was a favorite experience of mine. Stars decorated the ceiling. Bands, like Modest Mouse and Franz Ferdinand, charmed, excited and rocked the audience. Fans were friendly and didn't push or shove, just bounced on the floor as if they were on a mattress. Also, the ushers were cool, letting people roam from seat to seat.
Usher and Kanye West at Oakland Coliseum Arena (Sept. 3): I've said before that if Eros, the Greek god of love, could croon, he would be named Usher. This ultimate entertainer led the charts this year, and his performance live is a completely aurally pleasing production.
A-Yue and MC Hot Dog at Slim's (Oct. 7): Just as it makes us proud to hear a rapper represent the Bay Area, it was wonderful for me to hear MC Hot Dog spit out lines about my favorite spots in Taiwan. I never knew Chinese and Taiwanese could flow like that. Plus, A-Yue rocked the house that night. The two artists' duet of folk-rock and rap in Chinese was the most fun of all.
Beastie Boys at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium (Sept. 17): With the exception of getting beer spilled on me by a drunken fan and the weird circus dog show opener by Bob Moore's Amazing Mongrels, this was a great show. I've waited a long time to hear ''Brass Monkey'' again, and the trio sounds as good as ever. Underappreciated but very good socially conscious MC Talib Kweli opened for the Beastie Boys.