First Avenue's 20 best concerts: The complete list

Categories: Lists
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2. Prince, First Avenue, 7/07/07
Needless to say, there are countless Prince shows at First Ave that could fit in this slot. Take your pick from the run of mid-'80s blowouts, the filming of Purple Rain, the exploration of Sign O' the Times, and so forth. This was the most surprising show of them all. On the morning of 7/7/07, my alarm went off at 5 a.m. I rolled out of bed and got hastily dressed. It was Prince day. People had been sleeping on the sidewalks surrounding First Avenue since the night before, and I was worried I wouldn't get there in time. After an eight-hour wait I had both a wristband and a ticket.  
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Another eight-hour wait later that night proved that it was worth everything to see Prince onstage in his second home again. It came along with a performance in Macy's and at Target Center. Sheila E and Wendy showed up, among other special guests, and it took the Minneapolis police to shut down the show around 4 a.m. -Stacy Schwartz
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1. Joe Cocker, The Depot, 4/03/70
Nothing feels as sweet as the first time. According to the April 4, 1970 edition of the Minneapolis Tribune, "not since the truck drivers' strike of 1934 is it likely that there has been such excitement, such chaos, such congestion, such noise just off Hennepin Av. as there was Friday night." The account, which later calls the space Fillmore Upper Midwest, says that carpeting and other interior decorations weren't yet installed, but the old bus station was packed out with sun-tanned men and women wearing expensive hippie garb by the time Cocker hit the stage just after 8 p.m. The $10 tables were full, the $4 standing room was reserved for those willing fight for it, and the initial stocking of booze was used up by showtime. A long-haired Cocker worked hard on stage filled with 40 people "singing like a black man" and dancing "like a spastic" and the two sets had the feel of a circus sideshow. From day one, this club had its magnetic persona established. -Reed Fischer  

What was your favorite show at First Avenue? Write us, and send photos to gimmenoise@citypages.com and we'll include you in a list of readers' picks on the blog next week.

Related:
First Avenue: An archived history via flyers, riders & contracts
First Avenue's 20 best concerts: Readers' picks
First Avenue's 40 years of rock 'n' roll
Top 20 best Minnesota musicians: The complete list

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