The top 10 Concerts of 2009

2009 was a great year to be a music fan and an awesome year to be a music photographer. The ten concerts below rocked fans and photographers alike.

No Doubt


I consider myself lucky to have photographed No Doubt’s first major performance in five years. Their pavement shaking set at Bamboozle was without a doubt the most fun I had at a show this year. The band was so happy to be performing that night that their energy could hardly be contained. Even though I’ve photographed countless shows since May, No Doubt is still the gold standard for tours in 2009.



As a music photographer, I see a lot of bands I’m not familiar with. Most of the time the show is good, but I distinctly feel like I’d enjoy the show more if I knew the music. A few times a year, a band puts on such an amazing show that no prior experience is necessary. MUTEMATH’s performance at Nokia Theater was one of these rarities. The band and their entire crew deserve huge props for designing such a great performance.

The Music of R.E.M. at Carnegie Hall


I’ll probably never see Michael Stipe, Patti Smith, Guster and Kimya Dawson on the same stage ever again. Thanks to Michael Dorf, an absolutely amazing lineup of talent was able to raise money for music education with a once in a lifetime performance at one of the finest music venues in the entire world. Ingrid Michaelson’s cover of “Nightswimming” and Elf Power’s performance of “Everybody Hurts” with the late Vic Chesnutt, were among my favorite music moments of the year.

Neil Young


Fans of Neil Young said that his performance at Madison Square Garden this year was one of his best every. Consider for a moment that Young has been touring for 45 years and you’ll understand just how good this show was. Rock on Neil.



With the global economy in the dumps, inspiring stories were ever more poignant this year; enter Anvil! The Story of Anvil, a movie about two guys with a 35 year old dream of making it big in the music scene.  The movie is as unlikely a vehicle for messages of hope and the endurance of the human spirit as they come –  but that’s what makes the film and the band favorites of mine.

Road Recovery

You’re eyes aren’t lying to you; that is Gilby Clarke, Jerry Cantrell, Perry Farrell, Wayne Kramer, Evan Seinfeld and Tom Morello in one photo. The Road Recovery Benefit is one of my favorite New York City concerts to shoot. The list of rock’n’roll legends that have turned out to support the cause just keeps getting better and better.

Tom Jones

I’m not a older woman with a talent for bra tossing, but Tom Jones’ performance at Terminal 5 sure made me wish I was. Make no mistake, at age 69, Sir Tom has still got it.

The Sounds


I photographed The Sounds four times this year – more than any other band by far. What kept me coming back for more? The answer Maja Ivarsson. Don’t get my wrong, I love the music too, but as many concert photographers will tell you, Maja would be on the short list for dynamic female leads any year.



It pains me to say this, but for as much as I can’t stand the Gallaghers, I have to concede that Oasis did put on a great show at Madison Square Garden.

Semi Precious Weapons


There are only two words to properly describe the Semi Precious Weapons show at Gramercy Theater; kunty and epic. My brother Todd and I did a promo shoot for the band before staking out some prime stagefront realestate for the set. Gramercy’s lights and Semi Precious Weapons’ flare simply can’t be beat.

End Notes

Even though I photographed far fewer shows in ’09 than years previous, it was hard to whittle the entire year down to ten great concerts. The exercise was entirely necessary and one that I would highly recommend; it allowed me to see how I’d grown in 2009 and how much further I’ve still got to go.

What were your top ten?

  1. my Top 10 Concerts of 2009 —

  2. Paul

    I was sweating till I hit your #10 :) Happy New Year !

  3. Top 10 Concerts of 2009 | New York Music Photographer Chris …

  4. Top 10 Concerts of 2009 | New York Music Photographer Chris …

  5. Very cool, Chris! Not surprising that it would be. Both you and Todd have inspired me to create my own favorites list.

    Hope you had a great holiday and have lots of good stuff planned for 2010. Absolutely love your new site design!

  6. RT @chrisowyoung Top 10 Concerts of 2009

  7. Holy fuck!
    Your work is wicked, wicked, wicked!
    Wish I could earn my living doing this- I used to shoot a lot of concerts years ago but that was with Ektapress 1600 film and a manual focussing Nikon FE2 system; my 180 mm 2.8 was my favorite lens, in either case sharp as hell.
    Love the lighting in your photographs and all the moments are fabulous.
    It’s been a pleasure visiting your site, and keep up the fantastic work!

    One question if you have the time, what camera body are you using for the concert work?

    Damn, nice stuff!

    Best Regards,


  8. Thanks so much for the post – I think I’ll added your article to my website.