Michael Lutgen of Prior Lake:
1 Alan Parsons Project, Waukegan, Ill. Probably the best live band performance I’ve witnessed. Brilliant songwriting, eight-person vocal harmonies, guitar virtuoso Jeff Kollman, impeccable drummer Danny Thompson and P.J. Olsson, who has the vocal abilities of 10 angels, with Parsons leading the way. Wow.
2 Scott Weiland and the Wildabouts, “Circles.” This song is something in between a love letter and a farewell, with live video showing the vulnerable side of the grunge pioneer, who died on his tour bus in Bloomington in December 2015.
3 Mother Love Bone, “Stargazer.” Listening to this on the compilation “On Earth as It Is: The Complete Works” reminds me why I put this song in my top five of all time. Love the structure and the brilliant outro.
Jon Bream of the Star Tribune:
1 Brittany Howard, the Palace. The night before her solo debut dropped, she previewed the compelling, deeply personal tunes and showcased her soul skills and panache on covers of Prince (a funky “The Breakdown”), Sam & Dave (the soulsational “When Something Is Wrong With My Baby”) and the Beatles (reimagining “Revolution”).
2 Vince Gill, the Orpheum. He was generous with his set list (29 songs), musicianship (great solos for his players and his own guitar) and humanity (notably on the poignant new song about sexual abuse, “Forever Changed”). Outstanding.
3 “Miles Davis: The Birth of the Cool.” This documentary paints a full portrait of the man and his music, with film and concert clips, photos, interviews with his associates, friends and lovers, and actor Carl Lumbly assuming the role of narrator, masterfully impersonating Davis’ distinctive rasp.