Memorable moments at Nassau Coliseum -- from the debut of Justin Bieber as an arena headliner to stellar appearances that further confirmed the world-class status of Paul McCartney and Bruce Springsteen -- have been plentiful so far this century.
But what separates a good concert from a great one is the element of surprise, experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime moment that only those who were in the building that night can claim. Here are my favorite Nassau Coliseum shows of the 21st century:
1. Taking Back Sunday (June 23, 2006)
Emotions were running high, even before the Rockville Centre-based band took their hometown stage as headliners, as hundreds of fans overwhelmed security to jump the barricades and form the biggest moshpit in Nassau Coliseum history. The band rose to the occasion, as thousands shouted back every word and howled in appreciation that Long Island's own had made it. No one there will ever forget singer Adam Lazzara's shocked look during "Divine Intervention" as the crowd let loose. "I used to deliver deli food not too far from here," he said, during a lull. "This is pretty crazy."
2. Paul McCartney (April 21, 2002)
Following the shock of the Sept.11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Macca delivered a show of optimism in the face of loss -- including his 9/11 anthem "Freedom," "Something" for the late George Harrison, "My Love" for his late wife, Linda, and a haunting, slowed-down version of "We Can Work It Out" for the late John Lennon.
3. Bob Dylan (Nov. 13, 2006)
For his "Modern Times" tour, Dylan rolled out his elegant side, twisting many of his classics into more lighthearted affairs, soothing the audience's angst with a prettier-than-usual outlook.
4. Jay-Z (March 12, 2010)
Backed by an 11-piece band, Jay-Z set out to prove that hip-hop can be just as powerful live as any other genre. He succeeded with a hit-filled show packed with surprises, including a metal version of "99 Problems."
5. Bruce Springsteen (May 4, 2009)
No one works a crowd like Springsteen. And on his "Working on a Dream" tour, he balanced his populist political message with enough working-class classics to keep everyone happy.
6. Dixie Chicks (June 23, 2003)
The only thing more impressive than the way the Chicks stood up to death threats and career-threatening blackballing at country radio over an offhand political comment was the way the defiance perfectly suited their new music.
7. Sade (June 21, 2011)
Sade is always worth the wait, and on her first tour in 10 years, she did not disappoint, showing how her more hip-hop-oriented "Soldier of Love" album fit nicely with her jazz-tinged, neo-soul back catalog.
8. Vans Warped Tour (Aug. 4, 2007)
9. Lady Gaga (April 23, 2011)
Gaga had mastered spectacle-crafting long before her "Monster Ball" finally hit Long Island 17 months into the tour, which may explain why it felt more like a party than the meticulously staged extravaganza it started out as.
10. Rihanna (July 19, 2011)
ONE I WISH I SAW
David Bowie (March 23, 1976) The Long Island stop on Bowie's "Station to Station" tour was immortalized on CD last year, and it captures the Thin White Duke at the peak of his powers, as he transitioned from glam rock concepts to grittier, R&B-influenced rock like "TVC15."
We asked our readers to tell us about their favorite Nassau Coliseum concerts. Here's what some had to say. (Responses have been edited for brevity and clarity.)
In 1978, my mom drove to the box office to buy Aerosmith tickets for me and my friend (we were 13) -- it was our first concert. She forgot the band's name and bought Queen tickets instead. It was an amazing show and turned us into lifelong Queen and concert fans!
-- Adam Bernstein, Port Washington
I went to see Eddie Murphy on July 29, 1986, on the "Pieces of My Mind" tour. At one point the entire Coliseum went quiet because everyone was laughing so hard they lost their breath.
-- Andy Sable, North Bellmore
I was at a Bruce Springsteen concert on my 30th birthday on Nov. 3, 1993. Bruce was singing "Leap of Faith" and I was sitting in the front row. All of a sudden he pulled me to the stage, sang to me and kissed me. It was my Courteney Cox moment!
-- Jill Gruen, Merrick
I saw the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young reunion concert in the late '70s. Each performer did a solo set with Neil Young going on last. The crowd got restless and screamed requests for various group tunes. Young cursed us out and told us to sit down and shut up. We got up and left, then heard "Carry On" as we hit the parking lot.
-- Greg Wiley, Mineola
I was working at Sam Goody in Valley Stream in 1973, and an RCA records rep was able to get me a pair of tickets to see Elvis. I wasn't a huge fan, but the opportunity to see "The King" was a chance not to be missed. He opened with the theme from "2001: A Space Odyssey" and closed the 21-song set with "Can't Help Falling in Love." With the Sweet Inspirations (led by Cissy Houston, Whitney's mom) as background vocals, Elvis was sensational!
-- Jeff Goldman, Oceanside