Live music is in my blood. My grandfather worked the grandstand at the Louisiana State Fair and concessions at the coliseum. And my uncle managed the Kansas Coliseum in Wichita. I started producing shows in college and have had a toe or two in live music ever since.
Brandi Carlile said recently in an interview that she always thought “Being an entertainer meant to use your voice in a big dramatic way and to just have it completely project from your body. And also, to get dressed up and to respect your audience. That’s what I always thought it was to be an entertainer.”
I actually agree with her and find that she is both a great musician and a great entertainer. Other contemporary soloists who straddle that line are k.d. lang and Lyle Lovett. I wish Sheryl Crow were better live, but, seeing as she's not, I won't attend for fear of losing my love for her.
In the singer/songwriter realm, Shawn Colvin and Patty Larkin are both highly entertaining, and the Indigo Girls always connect beautifully with their audience. (I'm betting my pal Watson would want me to put in a plug for the Lady Gaga extravaganza right about here.)
As for bands, I haven't been to an arena show since R.E.M.'s Green tour, but they put on quite the show and I just love watching Michael Stipe. I know U2, the White Stripes, Radiohead, and Muse are also known for their elaborate stage productions or raw, live presentations, though I've not experienced any of them.
Best show I've ever seen was Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, Shawn Colvin, and Bruce Hornsby together. It was the first night of the tour, in Boston, in 1999, I think. Sheer artistic perfection. If I'd gotten to catch my friend Katie opening for Brandi on one of the tours they've done together, I might have a new favorite, but, alas, it wasn't meant to be.
The Cayamo Cruise would be another hotbed of musical lusciousness for me. If only I were willing to leave the dog behind for a week...