THAT'S AMORE: Andrea Bocelli
Few artists speak the language of love like Andrea Bocelli, the renowned Italian tenor who returns to Amalie Arena tonight for his third Tampa concert in five years. With Valentine's Day on the horizon, we thought: Who better to advise us on matters of the heart than Bocelli? Tickets are $75 and up for his 7:30 p.m. show, which also features soprano Maria Aleida and Eugene Kohn conducting the Bella Musica Orchestra; call (813) 301-2500 or go to amaliearena.com. To prepare, we emailed Bocelli a few questions about love and Valentine's Day (he prefers to email because it gives him a better handle on the language). Here's a bit of what he had to say. For more, visit tbtim.es/vxj.
What's your favorite lyric about love?
Not one in particular, but too many to mention. But I can say what I, personally, expect from a love song. It must respect the canons of musical beauty, it must be able to enter the fibers of those who are listening, it must make you dream, and pleasantly introduce you in the universe of love. A great love song must spark emotions, must be an accomplice, must become the voice of many in the world, that in it are able to mirror their most genuine and precious feelings.
When did you realize that your voice had become an inextricable, and very personal, part of many people's love lives — first dates, marriage proposals, weddings, first dances?
For over 20 years I have had this great privilege: to be able to become part of the life of others, thus becoming the soundtrack of their lives, at least for a bit. This is for me a great joy, even more when people choose my songs to accompany important moments, such as a newly born love, or when love is enshrined in the holy matrimony. I am perfectly aware that I have no special merit in this sense; I have been gifted by heaven with a voice that can communicate positive emotions, that's all.
How does becoming known the world over color your feelings about love and intimacy?
I love people, I love my job and I am happy to give a few moments of joy through my songs. I have always had a vital, direct, sincere relationship with my listeners. At every concert and tour, I am amazed and honored by the affection people show me, and surely this gives me the strength to go on, not to rest on my laurels. And my way to respond to such benevolence is to continue to do my job in the best way possible.
FEEL THE EMOTION: Carly Rae Jepsen
In a perfect world, Carly Rae Jepsen would be coming to Tampa on Feb. 17 to headline Amalie Arena, fresh off sweeping the Grammys for her magnificent sophomore album Emotion. As it is, she's playing the much more intimate Ritz Ybor, fresh off her role as Frenchy in Fox's Grease Live. Which, mind you, is still pretty good! Still, an album like Emotion, one of our favorite of 2015, deserves a wider audience than it has found. Jepsen could have gone safe and simple after penning the simple, inescapable earworm Call Me Maybe in 2011, but instead she tracked down an impressively out-there list of collaborators (Sia, Dev Hynes, Vampire Weekend's Rostam Batmanglij, Ariel Rechtshaid) to craft an album that's just as catchy, but even more ambitious. Songs like Run Away With Me, When I Needed You, Gimme Love and Your Type project Jepsen's sweetly awkward vulnerability through a prism of color and futuristic pop production, turning her into a lovable underdog alternative to the Taylor Swifts, Katy Perrys and Adeles of the world. Maybe it's better she's not lugging an armful of Grammys to massive arenas around the globe — for now, she still belongs to her increasingly adoring fan base. And that's pretty sweet, too. Cardiknox and Fairground Saints open the show at 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Ritz, 1503 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $24 and up. (813) 390-0397. theritzybor.com.
THE GOOD BOOKING: Hillsong United
Year after year, Hillsong United holds down one of the most attended and highest-grossing tours on the planet. Not bad for a group that grew out of an Australian youth ministry nearly 20 years ago. And when you listen to their music, it's not at all surprising — the group's sweeping alt-pop anthems have a lot in common with that of other arena-fillers like Coldplay or Imagine Dragons. Their 2015 album Empires even drifts into the atmospheric territory occupied by Brian Eno and U2. Their live shows are highly anticipated events among fans of worship music, which explains why their weekend trip to Tampa was extended from one night to two. They'll perform at 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the USF Sun Dome, 4202 E Fowler Ave. $27.50 and up. (813) 974-3004. sundomearena.com.
HALL PASS: Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo
Heart and Joan Jett are both in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. When will Pat Benatar get her call to Cleveland? She and omnipresent husband-guitarist Neil Giraldo didn't write most of their biggest songs, but few acts from the past 35 years have as many rock radio hits — Heartbreaker, We Belong, Hit Me With Your Best Shot, Shadows of the Night, Love Is a Battlefield. Benatar projected toughness and sexiness with the best of them, and she has toured for decades to keep her fan base engaged and enraptured. It's not often you get to see Benatar and Giraldo in a smaller theater, but they're playing the Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St., at 8 p.m. Monday. $77 and up. (727) 791-7400. atthecap.com.