Worst Concerts You Have Attended ??

I just left a remark about a favorite band of mine back in the day - April Wine - that I saw in concert and was disappointed. Could have been that it was an off night for them, or maybe they were never good in concert. Maybe the lead guitarist had too much to drink? April Wine was not the worst, however. I remember Neil Young in the 1990's who was on his one-man acoustic show type of tour that many artists were taking advantage of (perhaps for financial reasons) during that time. While a friend of I had near front row seats at Desert Sky Pavilion (now Ak-Chin) in Pheonix, the crowd was just roused up into a frenzy by the warm-up band (James) and here comes Neil and his guitar/harmonica. Wow, what a sonic letdown. I remember getting up and leaving and feeling Neil's glaring eyes on us as we ushered out. I think, to this day, he probably still remembers me. We all can remember the great live concerts we attended, but what were the worst and why?
Very disappointing: Jackson Browne at the Garden State Art Center in Holmdel, NJ. Just blah. 
Jimmy Buffet, not a fan. got the tickets to take this girl out i hadn't even spoke to, thought she would say yes. walked up to her front door and asked if she wanted to go to a concert with me, she said no, i said ok turned around and left. went the concert anyway and it sucked. Bad experience all around.
The bad concerts that come to mind were all in recent years.  I think they were even more disappointing because we had high hopes they would be good:

Bob Dylan — As others noted, he was like this little depressed old man that mumbled, not sure he didn’t doze off in parts, and he played blah music with no comprehensible lyrics.  Total snoozefest.

Willie Nelson — It was a tour “with Family”.  His voice was faint and so was the music.  He must have been tired of singing his hits, as he did a brief medley of his hits and then on to something unfamiliar.  Big letdown.

Three Doors Down — This was after lead guitarist Matt Roberts left due to health problems and bassist Todd Harrell was gone due to drunk driving accident.  So they had replacement players.  Music was so LOUD that I couldn’t enjoy it or understand what Brad Arnold was singing.  I loved their albums, so this live rendition was disappointing and headache-inspiring. 
This might shock a few folks but it was a Van Morrison show in New Jersey in the late 80’s, he played a medley of his songs for an hour, he’d start a song, sing a line or two, then roll into another one, it was clear the songs that had meant a lot to me, meant nothing to him any longer. In my mind, if you think your own songs aren’t worth the time and effort to sing them, I’m not going to take the time and effort to listen to them. 
Worst Bob dylan in glasgow 2004. Played most the gig with back to audience. Session muso's staring at Bob trying to work out what he was playing and where he was going
Lazy disrespectful and working to pay off a tax bill. 
Still have his music on sacd and vinyl just the person at that time was rubbish. 

Best gigs - John Prine Cambridge folk festival followed by old Crow medicine show in early years... Energy, interaction and perfection. Manu dibangu at Ronnie Scott's london
Pink Martini at Wolf Trap about six years ago... the sound was terrible.. and the way they choose to play different country’s national hits was so funny.. it was so obvious how it divide the crowd on groups who were interested and not.
However the one I really liked was ’13 Depeche Mode at Jiffy Lube Center VA... superior sound and energetic, fantastic atmosphere. 
Deadhead the one time I saw Van was in 1970 at my college. He was drunk off his butt, but still managed to put on a pretty decent show. His material was pretty new to him at the time, so he apparently hadn’t gotten jaded yet. He was living nearby in Woodstock, NY then, and likely stopped off at his local tavern before the show for a few, or maybe quite a few, beers.
Saw Van Morrison once.  Pure torture.  He came across as a proper pompous, tedious little twat.

As a teen I saw (I believe) Deep Purple's last ever gig in Liverpool.  Spinal Tap really nailed that era.   Tedious solos.   Tommy Bolin could hardly stand up.  I think he died a week later.

Grateful Dead, Baltimore Civic Center, late 70's.  Completely flat lackluster performance just plodding thru the songs.  When they were on the right dose they were ON but this was clearly not one of those nights. 
My almost favorite band--The Eagles--Miami Stadium.  I walked out after the 4th song, which was really the 2nd song.  They started and stopped the first two songs twice.  My guess is that they were so high they could not perform. It was completely embarrassing and terrible for professional musicians.

BEST show (after the Beatles, of course) was ALSO the Eagles--July 4th, (1976, I think), Tampa Stadium.  Loggins and Messina (last show together), Fleetwood Mac (Rumors) and Eagles (Hotel California).  Totally amazing show.

As for SOUND issues, almost every show lately is horrible regardless of the band.  I don't think the artist cares at all as they just do the show and leave with no thought to the audience.

Surprise show--saw Rod Stewart recently and he was terrific!  Also, saw the David Byrne show in NYC last year and it was amazingly good.

Worst, Dickie Betts and Chrissy Heinz, Pretenders, Both so loud I had a headache for days. Best, Front row Bruce Springsteen as he was the warm up for The Paul Winter Quartet before the release of Asbury Park. 
Sting, mid 2000's, Madison, WI.  Uninspired, low key, little interaction with the audience, flat out boring.
Dixie Chicks at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. That venue may be fine for boxing, but not for concerts. Michelle Branch was the opening act. The sound system was awful.
The Mothers of Invention Ford Auditorium Detroit 1969. Frank announced to the audience that they had been hassled by our local constables and decided to play the song Bacon Fat  over and over again. His guitar solos were incredible though. In retrospect The Grande Ballroom concerts in Detroit give me bragging rights of seeing so many legendary bands in their prime, but honestly, at the time the music was background ( LOUD) sound to cover all the drug deals going down.
Worst:  Steppenwolf. It was ear bleeding loud and you could not tell what was playing. 
Best: Leo Kotke who just sat on stage with his 12 string and played like it was him and several others. Opening act was Laura Branigan by herself at a piano. Both were fabulous. 
Been to more then a few bad concerts, but the one that I easily remember was a Buddy Guy/ Junior Wells show at the Bottom Line in 74 or 75. Should have known it was going to be a very short night watching the two of them at the bar. Buddy played two or three notes and talked/ slurred about how he taught Jimmy Hendrix everything and that was it! Very early night.
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Prince back in the late 80s
He was playing in the old Miami Arena. I didn't want to go, but a friend talked me into it. I DID take earplugs, but after one song I couldn't take how loud it was so I went to the back of the arena outside the doors, where vendors are. Still too loud, so I actually left the arena and sat on the steps outside, but still had to keep the earplugs in for almost 2 hours
Hall and Oates...Just plain horrible a few years back. Luckily...Tears For Fears was touring with them and totally saved the the evening...Thank you TFF!!!
Worst - Dylan with Tom Petty around 1986.  I even recorded it thinking this'll be good.  I never listened to it again.

Best - Queen 1985.  Eric Clapton bad 1983, outstanding around 1990.

"Journey and Deep Purple"

That may be the worst concert pairing I have ever heard of.

Hall and Oates in 2018 was the worst...We walked out after 3 songs....Train was the opening act and they were excellent.....Their sound equipment was excellent, and we were expecting the same from Hall and Oates....I went home and put on a few records that sounded better than the concert live....
Yes, Brighton back in 1980 touring for Drama, boring and without spirit, but spot on on title.


Hot Tuna with Papa John Creech (fiddle), OMG I couldn't stand it with my fingers jammed in my ears the PA was so loud. Had to leave.

Rick Wakeman Journey to the center of the Earth.  Played it very well and then announced that was the only song they knew, so they played it again!  

Grateful Dead at Madison Square Garden, they played very sketchy as if they were trying to get on the same page.  To top it off, MSG management never turned the lights off, every friggin' light was on the entire time.

One of the very best:  Ella Fitzgerald at Radio City Music Hall, smooth as silk and powerful, simply amazing. 
Worst sound system--Drive By Truckers in a club type venue. Lots of energy, but could not understand a single word they were singing.
Since the lyrics are a big component of their package, that was kind of disappointing. 

Worst effort--B.B. King, circa maybe 1987.  smallish venue, Austin, TX. His guitar playing was in good form, for maybe 28 minutes. 

Then his bass player, younger understudy, whatever, started trying to urge a standing ovation out of the audience. "Ladies and Gentlemen, Mister BB King. BB King, Ladies and Gentlemen, Mis-ter B. B. King." 

Roommate at the time and I still keep in touch, and we still talk about the 28 minute concert. No doubting his talent, but we weren't paying to give him a lifetime achievement award that night. He must have eaten some bad Tex-Mex. 

Bob Dylan again. It was about 7 to 10 years ago in a hockey arena in Maine. The acoustics were horrible. In the seventies I remember going to a concert in Boston that was so loud it was painful. I can’t remember the group but I was very disappointed that my friends and I all agreed we couldn’t take anymore and left after two songs.
I have two. Frank Zappa at the Agora Ballroom in Columbus, OH, 1979 I think. The music was OK, but Frank played with his back to the audience for at least 80% of the show. They had the lights set up so he cast this big shadow on the wall and I guess that was supposed to make up for it, but it really didn’t work. The other was Genesis in Ohio Stadium in 1992. I blame it entirely on the sound mixer because that dufus had the bass turned up way too loud and it totally drowned out the other parts of the music. But Pink Floyd at Ohio Stadium in 1988 was fantastic. The worst one I ever had to watch was the Black Eyed Peas Super Bowl halftime show so of course that doesn't count as attended. But it was an assault on my ears.
Joe Walsh in the 70’s. So drunk he couldn’t stand left after 2 terrible songs to a chorus of boos.

+1 on George Harrison Dark horse tour.   Hoarse voice and way too much Ravi Shankar.   
Talking Heads in a nice 3000 seat theater.  Sound so bad and loud words were unintelligible.  Too bad great tight bad normally.
My worst concert was Joe Bonamassa in Omaha, NE. I had seen him many times before and he was great. This time I had the best seats, but sound was so bad, that even after putting in ear plugs, it was just all a wall of noise, and way too loud, and I like it loud. $600 in tickets down the drain. Just left early.
Without a doubt, it was a Black Sabbath show in the mid-90's with Ozzy.  It was loud, and just droned on and on.  I went to see the opening band which was the Alvin Lee Band.  Which was cool enough, but the real reason I went was Mick Taylor was in Alvin Lee's band and I was always a fan of Mick Taylor.  Two songs into Ozzy and we walked out.  All the security guards were saying they didn't blame us for leaving.
The only two bands that I remember walking out on were The Dream Syndicate and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers (both were opening acts that were too loud and talentless). I have a vague memory of walking out on another opening act (Hydra) from my teenage years, but that's going back to far in the memory bank.

The three worst "going through the motions" shows were: Van Morrison, Morrissey and New Order. All three only lasted around 45 minutes; so, they also felt like a double ripoff.
Oh, I remember another awfully boring show.  It a James Taylor show in the mid-80's.  I was in college and worked the show.  I kept leaving to go to a friends party then come back hoping it got better.  Never did.  It was just so bloody boring.  
Worst concert I saw was Foghat back in the 70’s.  They didn’t seem to have too much material, so every song droned on and on. Slow Ride was more than a half hour long and I fell asleep during it.   Second worst was Deep Purple when David Coverdale was the singer.  Again, a 5 minute song turned into eternity.  The worst part was a girl overdosed right behind me and her supersize soda went all down my back and she fell over the railing and landed on top of me.  I wanted to say something but her boyfriend was some huge goon.  I said nothing and left the concert early.  
The absolute worst was The Who performing @ the University of Leeds in February of 1970.

Worst: Aerosmith, Buffalo, NY, September 1978. The opening act, AC/DC, blew 'em off the stage, as they say. But Tyler et al. seemed wasted, indifferent. The sound was awful. Draw the Line, indeed.

Best: The Who, same venue (Buffalo Memorial Auditorium), the very night after the 11 people were killed in Cincinnati. Talk about power. Tight sound, brilliant performance after the horror of the previous night. Changed the way I thought about music. 

Close to best: As MillerCarbon noted, the Born in the USA tour of Springsteen had some great shows. In Tempe, AZ, man, was he on. For a long night, too. 

Another close: Opening show, U2's Joshua Tree Tour, same venue as Springsteen a few years earlier. Never experienced such energy, even if Bono's voice was shot from over practice. He didn't need it, as the crowd sang all the lyrics (yelled them, that is). Two nights later it was back. Still didn't need it, though. Talk about synergy.
No contest KORN!!
To this day I do not understand the hype around this band they suck live and on the radio!
Appearantly sex, drugs and rock-and-roll are not a good long term plan 😄 I am thoroughly enjoying all of the experience recounts! Btw, I ALWAYS used earplugs. Even when going to a bar to hear a band, I would ALWAYS roll up cocktail napkin to stuff in my ears, and still discern the music fully. Take care of your hearing ... so you can HEAR the snake oil ... 😃
@dekay  - You were at the University of Leeds for the Who concert in Feburary 1970? Or are you basing your statement on the famous recording?

If you're basing it on the recording, I can tell you the recent 3LP Abby Road Half-Speed Master is much better than the original.
Worse: Aerosmith - Sept., 28, 1977, Rupp Arena, Lexington, KY. Too stoned to play. Finished in 45 minutes. Left a lot of people very disappointed.....

I think Dekay is trying to be funny.

Worst is a three way tie. Santana, touring with Jeff Beck in ’95. His pal Jerry Garcia had just passed earlier in the week and his whole set just seemed like a spirituality/sob fest. Thank god Beck went on first (with Bozzio on drums) because they killed it. My friend’s and I left halfway through Carlos’s set. Other two were opening acts, Blackfoot opening for Deep Purple in ’85 and Little Steven opening for U2 in ’87.

Best show was probably Zappa, ’88 tour. Only time I got to see him, sadly he never toured again. Honorable mention to The Clash opening for the Who in ’82.

36 Years of shows : here goes some of them

Overall Best for me personally - Emerson, Lake, Powell 1986, Massey Hall, Toronto, Ontario. The night that changed my musical life forever. Band was firing on all 12 Cylinders that night and did 3 encores. Keith Emerson was and still is The Greatest ROCK Keyboard Player (to me anyways). Mental illness is a serious thing. Please always reach out if a friend asks.

Others were (and there were more...just too lazy too list all them here) :

Rush Outdoors - always great sound...indoors and they played incredible but the sound ALWAYS sucked on both sides of the Border. Be it Toronto, Hamilton, or Hershey ! Outdoor Rush shows were always the best of the Band and their P.A. system.

Yes Union Tour 1991. 6th row T.O. Skydome. What should have been a major clash of styles...was. But they made it work for the audience. The "Onion" tour as R.W. called it had style clashes with both B.B & A.W. during their "Drum Duet". Paled in comparison to Bruford/Collins in the 70's IMHO. Steve Howe and Trevor Rabin, another clash of styles. Separately, their acoustic and electric solo's were great, together they was no trading of licks between them. Chris Squire was the glue that night. Oddly, both Rick Wakeman and Tony Kaye were playing together and it showed !

There's more but it would be a really really long post. 

Worst concert

April Wine -  Ottawa, Ontario 1996 :
They brought in this huge Stadium P.A. system in a small club (can't remember the name - on Richmond Rd.). Great playing but horrible sound.

Nick Mason's A Saucerful of Secrets - Phoenix, AZ - 2019
Again, brilliant show that ruined for my because I stupidly bough a front row seat that was direct in front of a stage level P.A. Cabinet !! 

Aerosmith in 2004 Hershey, PA. They truly are and play the "The Poor Man's Rolling Stones". A letdown for since I'd never seen them live and was looking forward to it. That night, Cheap Trick opened for them and outperformed Aerosmith. IMHO.

ELP/Jethro Tull - Toronto 1996 - Both played incredibly well that night and sound at the Kingwood was good. ELP OPENED for Jethro Tull ! We were all expecting Double Bill that night. It my have had to do with K.E's wrist surgery in 1994. He played lie he meant it but "dialed in" the knife stabbings into the Hammond L100. They would redeem themselves in 1998. Read below.

ELP/Deep Purple - Molson Amphitheatre 1997 - ELP were again firing on 12 Cylinders. Dream Theater opened. It was a double bill ELP for 90min. followed by Deep Purple for 90min. and I started to doze off. Honestly, I was only there to see Jon Lord and he did not disappoint. 

There's more but this is already a lengthy read.


"All three only lasted around 45 minutes; so, they also felt like a double ripoff."
Look at the bright side. At least you did not pay to be tortured for three times 90 minutes.
With so many Bob Dylan entries here, I have to agree. Only the last time, whenever that was (not long before Coronavirus), was he anything close to good. Other few times, it was mostly "Ok, now I saw Bob Dylan". As a few others mentioned, it was hard to recognize what song he was mumbling.

Maybe it is time to end The Neverending Tour. Or maybe that time was many years ago.
BTW, RIP Keith Emerson.

In New Orleans, early 80's, was looking forward to Johnny Winter; he injured his fretting hand before the show and played the whole concert with a slide...LOUD x7 .....he clearly adhered to a rigorous regimen of painkiller(s); even at the bar in another room it was deafening.

In contrast, Richard Thompson played a solo acoustic, small-club show in St. Pete, FL in the mid-late 80's; the rather small audience was on the same floor level as him, on folding chairs, and he repeatedly refused to turn up his amplification for guitar or vocals. Us in the back could hardly hear anything....playing or singing...and the last straw was when a bartender drowned him out by crushing an empty bag of potato chips! 
Saw Clapton in El Paso,TX while he was still in the throes of heroin addiction. Muddy Waters opened the show so it wasn't a total washout.
Diana Ross 1999 or 2000 Palace of Auburn Hills. She didn’t know the words and unfortunately her voice had seen better days.