“The Best Gig I Ever Saw” is a weekly column that will see us ask a musician to chat about their favorite concert thus far. This week it's Josh Charles, artist/producer with synth-rock band ASHRR, who are about to drop a new album…
It's difficult to list the best gig I ever saw, since I've been lucky enough to see thousands of shows since I was 10. Each of them have their place in my memory, even the “bad” ones. However, the one that instantly comes to mind as the best is U2's Joshua Tree at Kemper Area in Kansas City, 1987.
I was 13 at the time, and it was my first time seeing U2. Being the music-obsessed kid that I was, I'd camped overnight on the sidewalk in front of Streetside Records for a chance to buy tickets — the good ol' days when seeing your favorite band meant hardcore dedication, rather than the click of a mouse. Despite rumors swirling about whether the show would even happen given Bono had broken his arm a few nights earlier, the show — as they say — indeed went on.
I still remember the excitement that rumbled around the arena as the house lights darkened. The stage was empty, save for instruments and a few strategically placed platforms for The Edge's piano and Bono's orbit around the stage. No fancy LED screens. No graphics. No modular stages. Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. appeared, picked up their instruments, and for the next 90 minutes my mind was blown.
The set list that night was epic, opening with “Where the Streets Have No Name” and closing with “40” after a four-song encore. I'll never forget Bono's raw, unadulterated passion as he hit notes in the vocal stratosphere that few mortals can attain. The sound of The Edge's guitar delays reverberating throughout the arena. Larry's powerful drumming. Adam’s driving bass lines. U2 was here to conquer the world.
I've never witnessed such intensity and heart put into a show. Sure, Bono was in an arm sling, but that didn’t stop him from singing and running around the stage with the confidence of a thousand musical icons. To this day, that late October Monday night with U2 is the best gig I ever saw.
ASHRR's debut album Oscillator is out Friday, May 10.