edited by Sean Manning
De Capo Press, 359 pp., $16.95 (paper)
Incorporating luminaries such as Ishmael Reed, Thurston Moore, and Harvey Pekar, a collection of 50 writers recounting their most memorable concert-going experiences should provide a more compelling read. Despite reports from the Rolling Stones' first New York City show in '65, James Brown's broadcast set that spared Boston from riots the day of Martin Luther King Jr.'s murder in '68, and Nirvana's return to Seattle at the end of their triumphant Nevermind tour in '91, many of the revisited accounts suffer from hazy recollections and lazy storylines. Fortunately, The Show I'll Never Forget does manage a few jewels that make the book worthwhile. The story of a teenage Thomas Beller being dragged into the bowels of Madison Square Garden to be beaten by police officers after an '81 Kinks concert certainly spares no degree of intrigue. Likewise, John Albert leaves shattered glass in his wake as he describes the lengths it took for him to be blown away by Black Flag at the Los Angeles Hong Kong Cafe in '79. While Linda Yablonsky relates to her recently deceased father through the descriptions of a '70 Nina Simone performance, Diana Ossana laments the disastrous effect the Vietnam War had on her husband as she identifies a '73 Led Zeppelin concert as nothing less than cathartic therapy.
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