Billy Ocean (and Hall, Oates, and Crew)
At the outset, I stated that these favorite live concert videos appealed to me for various reasons. Some have to do more with the artists' performance, or their music; others with the interaction of performer and audience; others for respect for the ease, experience, and professionalism of the musicians. Here we have what seems to be a warm summer night, a sensuous breeze is blowing, the stars overhead are surely twinkling--a Cole Porter Begin the Beguine moment, if you recall those lyrics. Billy Ocean, backed by Hall, Oates & crew, sings his lush classic Caribbean Queen to a rapt audience, beguiled by the moment. Everyone is in the moment, and nothing else exists.

Lionel Richie
Pure pop, well-crafted pop, a talented performer, and a wildly appreciative audience. This all adds up to Lionel Richie at the top of his game, singing (with appropriate theatrics and drama) the infectious Running With the Night, a quintessential and perfectly-crafted effort by the genius team of Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann. Plenty of credit is given to the talents of a certain era of pop composers and lyricists--teams like Weil/Mann, Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry, Carole King and Gerry Goffin--but it is well-deserved in my view, and can be the source of many years of listening satisfaction. Richie has all the moves, and the crowd just eats it up. No anhedonia on display here!

I am not the audience for whom Heavy Metal is intended. I had had this conviction confirmed by auditing about 300 cassettes turned over to me by my son-in-law, and finding almost nothing that registered with me. But there were one, or two, or maybe three exceptions, and one of them was Queensrÿche. Some claim that Queensrÿche is something other than, or beyond, or a hybrid of HM--I'll leave that to more knowledgable folk to address--but I did find their lyrics interesting and the delivery of same by lead vocalist Geoff Tate to be engaging. And the music behind it all I thought also often quite to my taste. Here is Eyes of a Stranger from the album Mindcrime, their 3rd album. I gather that Mindcrime, Empire, and The Promised Land comprise the core of the band's best era.

The 1980s and much of the 1990s belonged to Bill Berry, drums; Peter Buck, guitar; Mike Mills, bass; and lead singer Michael Stipe, of R.E.M. The four got together as undergraduates at the University of Georgia in Athens GA (also the birthplace of the contemporaneous B-52s) and rapidly became one of the most influential and most beloved bands in America. It was often difficult to decipher Stipe's lyrics, or, once deciphered, to fully understand them, but the accessible musicality swept millions along, over album after album. The intense rapport between band and audience is perfectly captured here in their smash hit Losing My Religion.

No Doubt
There is No Doubt in my mind that few groups offer more on-stage joy and euphoria in performance than Gwen Stefani and No Doubt. Stefani follows in the Blond Bombshell tradition of Debbie Harry, Madonna & Company, but few can match the kinetic energy, enthusiasm, and cheerful radiance of Gwen and her madcap cohorts: Tony Kanal, bass and keyboards; Tom Dumont, guitar and keyboards; Adrian Young, drums (energy!); Gabriel McNair, trombone and keyboards; and Stephen Bradley, trumpet. No Doubt's genres are listed in Wikipedia as Ska punk, alternative, new wave, dancehall, pop rock, reggae, and synthpop. I say Yes to all, though it was an agony to select which clip to feature here, but herewith Hella Good. If you're ever feeling blue, just watch No Doubt and feel that smile beginning to form....