I'll start with the later as an example. I like the bad Travis. I was never a huge fan, but went with the gang to see them live a few years ago. This year, their lead singer Fran Healey released a solo album which has been getting pretty constant spousal airtime around the house. In both occasions, I loved their live performances and has made me want to listen more attentively to their music. Actually, now I've re-listened to Fran Healy's latest album, it sounds quite different to the bare bones acoustic performance (my preference) on Friday night. However, his beautiful lyrics haven't changed.
I saw Elbow open for Coldplay a few years ago. They had a few UK hits, but I didn't know a lot of their older material. They put on a fantastic show, perhaps one of the best openers I've ever seen and as soon as I got home, I downloaded a few older tracks and listened with a new ear to songs I'd passed on the first time around.
And finally, there are the total surprises. These are often smaller bands or local talent that I see opening for old timers or hot acts from the UK or US. Some of these finds include: Carney who opened for The Boxer Rebellion; Von Iva who opened for Glasvegas; Diane Birch who opened for Mat Kearney; and our favourite local lads, We Are The Take who opened for fellow Canadians The Waking Eyes and The Arkells.