As if concert venues in Tampa Bay weren't competitive (and, ahem, increasingly nasty) enough, here comes the spiffed-up USF Sun Dome, grand opening Sept. 14 with Elton John, to feed the frenzy even more. Of course, while the venues play a rough game of red rover, we the ticket-paying people win outright. More joints playing hardball means more big-name acts coming to town, right? As a result, fall and winter are fat with good stuff, including these five shows in September:
Elton John (USF Sun Dome, Sept. 14) The Rocket Man is 65 now, but his chubby, piano-pounding fingers and his work effort remain youthful. (So do his hindquarters — anyone see those paparazzi snaps of him mooning Michael Caine?!) Having the chance to open the new and improved Sun Dome no doubt played an ego-stroking part in Sir Elton's decision to set up shop in a smaller venue — should be about 11,000 for concerts here. The big guy loves a big stage on a big night, and we love him right back. (sundomearena.com)
Toby Keith (1-800-Ask-Gary Amphitheatre, Sept. 16) There was buzz that Toby was going to play the Republican National Convention, but his PR told me her client doesn't vote that way. That's interesting, because he often comes off as one of Nashville's angrier jingoistic mouthpieces. Go figure. I have a real love-hate with Toby, but these days, thanks to goofy genial hit Red Solo Cup, I'm leaning more toward love. (livenation.com)
Go-Go's (Mahaffey Theater, Sept. 19) If you were a young male venturing into manhood in the '80s, one of the great factors of your maturity was a certain undeniable shimmy — that is, the dance undulations of Miss Belinda Carlisle, right, naughty lead singer of the Go-Go's. Sure, she sounded cute on Our Lips Are Sealed and Head Over Heels, but her beach-blanket bounce was packed with a certain danger. Carlisle is 54 now, but something tells me she can still bring the curvy heat. (themahaffey.com)
Florence + the Machine (USF Sun Dome, Sept. 25) Tolkeinesque belter Florence Welch leads this British indie outfit, which has sold a good many albums due more to weirdo vibe than any hit singles. Such is their curious appeal, Flo & Co. can whip up a frenzy at the MTV Video Music Awards and the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Concert. For a lot of people, this is a far bigger must-see September show at the Sun Dome than Elton John. And it certainly sends a message to other area venues — the new digs want to be cool, too. (sundomearena.com)
Fiona Apple (Ruth Eckerd Hall, Sept. 29) Miss Angry Pants has a granny in the area, but a calming family influence certainly won't stop her from verbally burning down the Clearwater concert hall. She's tiny, and still perilously thin, but she can wallop a song with a prizefighter's verve. New album The Idler Wheel … is typically ripe with vitriolic shots at Apple's ex loves. Don't believe that little-girl smile: She remains nothing less than Taylor Swift with a chainsaw. (rutheckerdhall.com)
Sean Daly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @seandalypoplife on Twitter.