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This week’s best Tampa Bay concerts: 98 Degrees, David Crosby, Petula Clark

By Jay Cridlin | Pop Music/Culture Critic
Published: December 6, 2017 Updated: December 8, 2017 at 07:27 AM
Handout photo of 98 Degrees, performing at the Mahaffey Theater on 12/8. Credit: Courtesy of 98 Degrees

PACKAGE DELIVERY: 98 Degrees

Oh, the weather outside is far from frightful — that’s one of the perks of December in Florida, you know. But inside the Mahaffey Theater on Friday, it’ll be 98 Degrees and steamy. The Brothers Lachey will unwrap This Gift and other holiday hits in a Christmas concert that’s been a long time coming. Their new Let It Snow is the boy band’s first album in four years, and their first Christmas album since 1999’s platinum-selling This Christmas. Nick, Drew, Justin Jeffre and Jeff Timmons are wrapping up their 20th year as a foursome — give or take a nearly decadelong hiatus here or there — and this holiday run will feel like the icing on the fruitcake. 8 p.m. 400 First St. S, St. Petersburg. $39.50 and up. (727) 893-7832. themahaffey.com.

DOWNTOWN GIRL: Petula Clark

We’re 75 years past Petula Clark’s radio debut, and more than 50 from her all-time iconic single Downtown. And yet the British vocal icon titled her latest album Living for Today — because when you’re 85, when else is there? In fact, Clark is celebrating the album by embarking on what she says is her first-ever proper U.S. tour, right down to the bus. "I’ve never done that before," she said in a recent phone interview, sounding remarkably chipper at the prospect. "The distances in the U.K. are nothing like the distances here, but I love it. I love traveling with the musicians, the crew. It’s like a big family, and you get to see the countryside. I really enjoy it." The bus will roll into Largo for two shows Tuesday at the Central Park Performing Arts Center, 105 Central Park Drive. Forget all your troubles, forget all your cares and head out there at
2 and 7:30 p.m. $34.50 and up. (727) 587-6793. largoarts.com.

Click here for more with Petula Clark.

BACK FROM HELL: Squirrel Nut Zippers

What a crazy time, the ’90s. It’s hard to recall how we let a gypsy jazz, swing and calypso ensemble from North Carolina not only reach radio and MTV, but perform at the Summer Olympics and the White House, all thanks to a single called Hell. But honestly, the Squirrel Nut Zippers deserved it. Quirky and innovative, their music transcended the zoot-suited swing revival — a minor miracle, considering their Behind the Music-worthy history with drugs, lawsuits, intra-band divorces and lineup changes. (Seriously, someone make a Squirrel Nut Zippers biopic. I’ll totally buy the first ticket.) If you remain skeptical, check out their genuinely great 1999 holiday album Christmas Caravan — the band’s commitment to timeless musical stylings have helped it age remarkably well. In advance of the album’s 20th anniversary, the reconstituted Zips are embarking on their first-ever Christmas tour. They’ll play holiday hits and more (Hell!) at 7 p.m. Saturday at the State Theatre, 687 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $22. (727) 895-3045. statetheatreconcerts.com.

R.Lum.R: COMING HOME

R.Lum.R knows Ybor City well. He loved the cozy old Orpheum, where he has fond memories of watching emo and hardcore bands back in the day. Those aren’t influences you’d typically associate with a nationally ascendant R&B talent, but then, R.Lum.R isn’t your typical R&B singer. Though he’s won plaudits from Rolling Stone, played Jimmy Kimmel Live and racked up millions of streams on Spotify, the Bradenton-raised singer-songwriter born Reggie Williams still has fond memories of being "a dumb, scrappy kid whose pants were really tight and wanted to listen to Silverstein and Hawthrone Heights and stuff like that," he said. "Central Florida, especially Tampa, has that kind of hardcore tradition." So it’s probably fitting that his first real homecoming since entering the national spotlight is at Crowbar, 1812 N 17th St., in Ybor City. He knows a lot of family and friends will come out. "I was lucky to be born in such a place that feels so strongly tied to the people that are from there," he said. 8 p.m. Friday. $15 and up. (813) 241-8600. facebook.com/crowbarlive.

Click here for more with R.Lum.R.

FIND OUT ABOUT THEM: Gin Blossoms

As an apostle of ’90s radio rock, I’ve been heartened to see younger fans embrace Third Eye Blind as a legitimately great band, and not some pre-millennial punchline. I’m thinking my next cause might be the Gin Blossoms. 1992’s New Miserable Experience is a note-perfect jangle-pop from top to bottom, with deep cuts Mrs. Rita and 29 standing proudly alongside Found Out About You and Hey Jealousy. And while you might know follow-up hits Follow You Down and Til I Hear It From You, how about recent songs like Long Time Gone and Learning the Hard Way? Yeah, the Gin Blossoms run deeper than you think, and they deserve a reappraisal. Give it to ’em at 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. $35 and up. (727) 791-7400. atthecap.com.

BACK SO SOON: David Crosby

After taking more than 20 years off between albums, David Crosby has been on a tear. First came 2014’s Croz, then 2016’s Lighthouse. Then in September the walrus-whiskered bard released the well-received Sky Trails, which features a stunning rendition of old pal Joni Mitchell’s Amelia. He sounds so enthused to be writing and recording new music that it’s no surprise he’s coming back to Clearwater at 8 p.m. Saturday for his second show at the Capitol Theatre in a little more than a year. "I’ve been in and out of Florida for years," he told the Tampa Bay Timese_SSRq Piper Castillo in a recent interview. "I’m coming back because of the album, but I have family down there, a daughter, three grandchildren. And also our monitors mixer, Rance Caldwell, does sound (at the Capitol Theatre) when he’s not on tour, and thirdly, it’s a great theater. It’s really cool.’’ Indeed it must be — the show is already sold out. (727) 791-7400. atthecap.com.

Click here for more with Crosby, see tampabay.com/soundcheck.