First Avenue's 20 best concerts: #10-1

Categories: Lists
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6. The Jayhawks, First Avenue, 7/7-8-9/95
At the height of summer, and six months after the release of Tomorrow the Green Grass, the Jayhawks returned to First Avenue for three consecutive nights. There's almost nothing like experiencing a packed Mainroom with like-minded music lovers on a sizzling summer night. The band (augmented by fiddler Mike "Razz" Russell) shared the songs from their (at this point) four-album catalog and exciting covers that displayed their influences. Just a few months later, Mark Olson left the band, marking an end to this lineup on the First Avenue stage for 15 full years. The classic lineup triumphantly brought it all back home for another three-night stand in the summer of 2010. --Steve Cohen
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5. U2, First Avenue, 2/21/82
In a smaller venue, the young and spiritually charged rising rock stars U2 were mixed with a devoted audience that, even then, knew every word to every song. As Bono struggled with the words to a "Southern Man" encore, he brought up a member of the audience to help him with the performance. This was Bono before the bug shades, this was Edge debating the relationship between faith and the rock 'n' roll lifestyle, and this was way before multimillion-dollar Pop Mart stage setups. This was a simple Irish band, up close and personal with its fan base; they would never be this intimate and vulnerable again. The electricity of this night will never be matched again as U2 moved on to bigger venues over the years. --Lars Larson
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4. Radiohead, First Avenue, 4/03/96
Many Radiohead devotees have already spoken out about the legendary show the band put on the year prior to this gig (6/04/95, although my ticket stub says 6/11/95). In both cases, a brash young folk singer named David Gray was the opening act, and both shows were examples of the band right before meeting people became so easy. Having attended both, I think the 1996 concert had more of a feel for where the band would end up on OK Computer. For Bends purists, this would be a nightmare. But those of us looking for the band to distance itself from the Buzz Bin, hearing wild renditions of songs like "Ripcord" that would soon go in the vault forever was only the tip of those Kid A icebergs. Plus, they did an in-store signing at Let It Be Records after the concert. --Reed Fischer 

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