Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Top 10 Concerts/Tours of 2014

This is the first of our year-end top 10s; continue to visit throughout September to read out Top 10 movies, regional plays, and regional musicals.

10. M. Ward, May 2 at Culture Room

As is customary, gifted singer-songwriter M. Ward didn’t just play the guitar at his first-ever Fort Lauderdale performance; he conquered it with both the controlled fury of a prizefighter in the zone and the pastoral delicacy of a cowboy around a campfire. He effectively made the audience disappear, crafting personal, bedroom catharses on which we happen to be eavesdropping.

9. Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, March 7 at Mizner Park Amphitheater

My favorite performance at this year’s Festival of the Arts Boca was also its most inscrutable, a selection of dances that was all the more compelling because it remained open to interpretation. Besides, as the dancers spent two hours swaying, gliding, sliding, shuffling, hopping, kicking, piggybacking, rolling, writhing, and contorting themselves into yogic positions, the story became secondary to the athleticism, lulling us into wide-eyed trance.

8. St. Vincent, Oct. 6 at Fillmore Miami Beach

Part indie rocker, part vaudeville chanteuse, part performance artist, Annie Clark’s St. Vincent’s brought a night of delectable weirdness to Miami, performing everything her fans wanted to hear with a flair for the theatrical.

7. Colin Mochrie & Brad Sherwood, March 8 at Coral Springs Center for the Arts

It’s one thing to see these “Whose Line is it Anyway?” stars on television, subject to editing and FCC regulations. It’s quite another to see them live, where anything truly goes. These two rubbery improv comedians were funnier than I’ve ever seen them, in comedy sketches far more ambitious than anything that could be pulled off on television—especially its painful, mousetrap-aided show-stopper. Colin still can’t rap, though!

6. Iron & Wine, Feb. 25 at Culture Room

Iron & Wine’s music has grown ever more expansive and musically rich in the past decade, but this tour was a throwback to singer-songwriter Sam Beam’s earliest days as a professional musician. He played music from his entire career with an acoustic guitar only, in a manner befitting the rustic, solo, back-porch charms of his first couple of records. He was in good spirits and proved open to taking audience requests, which made the night even more special.

5. Deepak Chopra, Nov. 13 at B’Nai Israel

There’s nothing like trying to comprehend the nature of the universe in less than two hours. Chopra came as close to successfully broaching this impossible topic as any speaker I’ve ever heard, distilling theories about nonlocal consciousness, the mysteries of black holes, the dangers of genetic engineering and the quantifiability of happiness in a slide-aided presentation that left us wanting more; it was a weeklong Deepak workshop condensed into one thrilling night.

4. Bleachers, Oct. 26 at Cruzan Amphitheatre

Jack Antonoff’s fun. side project played a mid-day set at the Coral Skies Festival, but the energy that accompanied its set was unparalleled. Those who turned out for the performance witnessed the stars of tomorrow today, in a show that confirmed that the irrepressibly nostalgic throwbacks on Bleachers’ debut album “Strange Desire” sound even better blasting from amphitheater speakers.

3. “So You Think You Can Dance!” season 11 tour, Nov. 28 at Arsht Center

Though one Top 10 dancer was apparently too injured to dance anything but group numbers, this enormously satisfying evening of dance included favorites from the past summer’s season of “So You Think You Can Dance!,” as well as inspired and indefatigable new group numbers. I’m sure other cities received great shows on this latest “SYTYCD” tour, but there was clearly something special in the Miami air this winter, because it was the hometown show for the season’s winner, Ricky Ubeda, whose emotional solo capped the evening, eliciting tears from its performer and a standing ovation from its audience.

2. Jerry Seinfeld, Jan. 31 at Hard Rock Live

Seinfeld not only still has it; his South Florida engagement proved that he’s arguably funnier and more observant than ever. His material traveled so far out into a realm of self-reflexive nothingness that it was downright existential. Buried among the evening’s abstruse material were cogent points about our overreliance on technology, the global decline of person-to-person communication, and the deliberate seduction of unhealthy food, delivered with punch lines so sharp and surprising that I couldn’t help missing his next quip—because I was still reeling over the last one.

1. Belle & Sebastian, Sept. 28 at Fillmore Miami Beach

Flawless sound, an unpredictable and unique set list, and copious love exchanged between the Scottish twee-pop superstars and the audience defined this magical night in Miami. There was even video projection and a string section of local talent backing them up. Belle & Sebastian’s first South Florida show in its 18-year existence proved well worth the wait.

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