Best living legends shows of 2013

Lee Fields and the Expressions stirred up the Cedar in 2013
Lee Fields and the Expressions stirred up the Cedar in 2013
Photo By Mark Kartarik

My head spins when I think back on all of the incredible shows we all saw in the Twin Cities this year. There are so many great spots to experience live music and the variety of shows throughout 2013 was astounding. Most music loving folks can attest that the Twin Cities can keep you out every night of the year.

I thought I'd go through a list of some of the more seasoned veterans of the trade that graced us with their divine presence this year. With grace and honor, those artists who invented the game continue to spread their music gospel, for both cathartic and nostalgic purposes.

I was lucky enough to soak up many of these stellar shows, and I came up with a fairly platinum list filled with a stalwart roster of creators and pioneers of their respected forms. 2013 looks great when looking back, and reminds us all not to sleep on living legends.

See Also: The best Twin Cities concerts of 2013, part two

Best living legends shows of 2013
Photo By Mark Kartarik

5. Lee Fields with Sonny Knight and the Lakers at the Cedar Cultural Center 11/3/13

A double dose of heavy duty soul music on a Sunday night on the West Bank -- and where the hell were all of you? Playing his first headlining gig in the Twin Cities at the Cedar, Lee Fields and the Expressions demonstrated an astute sense of delivery, gratitude toward his fans, and masterful understanding of soulful, funky music. His rough but tender voice gave power to the stage and electrified the sweaty audience who gave a new shine to the dance floor with their ecstatic movements. Showing a tightness unusual in the local scene, Sonny Knight and the Lakers gave indication of the shape of funky soul to come in 2014.

4. The Midwest Rock 'n' Roll Express 2013 with REO Speedwagon, Styx, Ted Nugent 4/9/13

Spring was budding, and there was no doubt that love was in the air. As I entered the arena, Uncle Ted was already spreading it on thick with "Wang Dang, Sweet Poontang," and ranting about the Boston Marathon Bombers who had just been caught that day. "Thank god they got those fuckers. This is America and we don't put up with fuckwads like that. I'd happily put them in a 'Stranglehold'!!". REO and Styx spread it all the more with their brand of classic rock, bringing the whole sold out arena together like couples at an eighth grade dance.

Best living legends shows of 2013

3. Pharoah Sanders at the Dakota 7/8/13

Before turning 73 this year, Sanders and his quartet (which included local cat, Eric Grávátt behind the trap set) spent a couple nights at the Dakota. A holy spirit of sorts, Pharoah Sanders sauntered out toward a chair where he found comfort as well as a deep connection with the jazz audience. Sitting meditatively, Sanders ventured through several takes by his late friend, John Coltrane, as well as his own hymn-like music. Breathing life into his sorrowful and entrancing sound, Sanders demonstrated the fruits of decades of expression.


Best living legends shows of 2013
Photo By Scott Irvine

2. John Zorn @60 at the Walker Art Center, 4/6/13

Celebrating his 60th birthday with a whole day at the Walker Art Center, Zorn offered up three very different performances that brought his frantic, meditative, introspective and infinitely overwhelming body of work to life. With a studied and varied group of musicians following his lead, Zorn's music erupted with exceptional turns and sprightly and piercing intervals. As if to send music toward heaven, Zorn lead his flock across the street at Saint Mark's Episcopal Cathedral for a solo organ set at midnight.

Best living legends shows of 2013
Photo by Lindsay Kimball

1. Rodriguez at the Fitzgerald, 5/15/13

Just a few days after gay marriage and love became the law in Minnesota, Saint Paul and the Fitzgerald hosted a beautiful moment for music fans -- singer/songwriter "Sugarman" Rodriguez made his first public performance in the Twin Cities back in May. Coming out of the darkness of the theater with the eloquence of a true gentleman, Rodriguez performed with kindness, love and true earnest appreciation toward the audience. The feedback loop of beaming adulation from the crowd seemed to physically uplift the man and his guitar, creating many rare and beautiful moments throughout the entire night.

Some other honorable mentions of amazing shows from 2013:

Martha Reeves and the Vandellas 1/9/13

Eric Burdon and the Animals at Medina Ballroom 2/1/13

Metal Alliance III Tour with Anthrax, Exodus, High on Fire, Municipal Waste, and Holy Grail at First Avenue, 4/4/13

Femi Kuti at the Cedar Cultural Center 6/26/13

Amadou and Miriam at the Cedar Cultural Center, 6/28/13

Cheap Trick at the Minnesota Zoo, 7/6/13

Bob Dylan, Wilco, My Morning Jacket, and Richard Thompson in Duluth and Saint Paul, 7/9 and 7/10/13

Grandmothers of Invention at the Dakota 7/13/13

Alice Cooper at the State Theater, 7/15/13

Yes at Mystic Lake Casino, 8/9/13

Blue Öyster Cult at Minnesota State Fair 8/24/13

Sheila E. at Minnesota State Fair 8/28/13

Adam Ant at Mill City Nights, 9/1/13 

Patti Smith at Saint Paul Union Depot, 9/12/13 Jimmy Cliff at First Avenue, 9/19/13

Cyndi Lauper at Mill City Nights, 10/30/31

Slayer at the Myth, 11/13/13

Charles Bradley at First Avenue, 12/6/13

Breeders First Avenue, 12/12/13

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