Pierre Robert’s Top 5 Philly Stadium Concerts of All Time
This week, tens of thousands of people flocked to Citizens Bank Park for the Jay Z/Justin Timberlake concert, the final stadium show of Philadelphia’s summer concert season. I asked veteran WMMR DJ Pierre Robert, who has attended more concerts than pretty much anyone on the planet, to rank his top five Philadelphia stadium* concerts of all time.
#5: Jimmy Buffett
Citizens Bank Park**, Aug. 25, 2005
I wasn’t expecting the guy who wrote “Margaritaville” to appear on any top five (or even top ten) list conceived by Philadelphia’s premier rock and roll DJ. But Pierre is, apparently, a big fan. “Jimmy brought the Phillie Phanatic on stage,” remembers Pierre. “And they did ‘Fins’ in front of 50,000 people. It was amazing.” It was so amazing that they did it again when Buffett played Philadelphia in 2008, which is the show that this video is from.
#4: Bon Jovi
Veterans Stadium, July 26, 2003
July 26, 2003, was a historic day in Philadelphia. It marked the final concert at the Vet, a venue that Philadelphia Inquirer music critic Dan DeLuca described as “a more miserable place than most to hear a show.” “Sheryl Crow and the Goo Goo Dolls were the opening bands,” says Pierre. “I hosted it, so I was on stage. It was so cool to be there.”
#3: Amnesty International
JFK Stadium, Sept. 19, 1988
This was a touring version of the original Amnesty concerts, which had started in 1986. “They had Sting, Tracy Chapman, Bruce Springsteen and Peter Gabriel,” says Pierre of the 1988 version. “They all played with each other on each other’s songs. A great show for a great cause.” CBS News saves the day with this footage aired the next day. It seems to be the only footage from the concert available online.
#2: Roger Waters
Citizens Bank Park**, July 14, 2012
This was the one show on Pierre’s list that I was actually there for. I sat 12th row center for the first half and the very top row of the stadium for the second half, and I can attest: It was awesome, from any seat. “It was a production like I had never seen, and with a sound quality that I had never heard,” says Pierre. “It was nothing short of a masterpiece.”
#1: Live Aid
JFK Stadium, July 13, 1985
Yes, the Philly edition of the famed concert (which was also staged in London, where Queen was the highlight) featured the Led Zeppelin reunion (which was actually a train wreck), Madonna and Mick Jagger, but larger-than-life Philly native Patti LaBelle provided the cathartic moment of the festival when she performed “Over the Rainbow.” Watch and see for yourself.
“It was simply an incredibly magical day,” observes Pierre. “The best day in Philly concert history ever. The eyes of the city were on us, and we did not disappoint.”
* After providing me with a list of his top five Philadelphia stadium shows of all time, Pierre confessed: “I’m not a fan of stadium shows. Overall, I don’t think they do service to the audience. Now if they’re done on a scale of Roger Waters, who took it to a new level, it works. But very few people can pull that off. So I’m only a fan if it’s spectacularly done or if it’s for a good cause.”
** It should be noted that Pierre does not refer to the venue by its proper, sponsored name. “I’m not into the corporate thing,” he says. “So I call it Good Citizens Park.” But for the purposes of this article, I went the formal version.