Ladies and gentlemen: It’s been real. But the time has come for our final spring and summer concert season ever, as we are, at long last, approaching the end of days.
Oh, wait. This actually says “end of decade,” not “end of days.” That does make a lot more sense.
Still, there is a growing sense of finality to this year, isn’t there? We’re in the home stretch of the 2010s, the decade that gave us fidget spinners, Tide Pods and Momo. What better time to look back at the music that defined the past decade — and, while we’re at it, all the decades that came before it?
So for this year’s spring and summer concert preview, we’re working our way through pop music history, from the rock, folk and soul legends of the ’60s to the EDM and bro-country idols of today. How did we get where we got? Grab a ticket, pitch a blanket on the lawn and we’ll figure it out together.
This summer marks the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, and, improbably, several of the acts who played there are coming to Tampa Bay. The highlight might be Santana at Al Lang Field on April 18. But there’s also the Lovin’ Spoonful’s John Sebastian on April 10 at Largo’s Central Park Performing Arts Center; and the man who put the C in CSNY, David Crosby, on May 23 at the Capitol Theatre. (And this is down the road, but the Who will play Amalie Arena on Sept. 22.)
Not into flower-power rock ’n’ roll? Welsh pop icon Tom Jones makes his long-awaited return to Ruth Eckerd Hall on May 10, and Motown legends the Four Tops and Temptations will co-headline Ruth Eckerd Hall on April 27. And songwriting maestro Jimmy Webb, whose hits include Glen Campbell’s Galveston and Wichita Lineman, will pay tribute to his late friend with a show on March 28 at the Capitol Theatre.
And if you still want more, consider a road trip to see the Rolling Stones in Miami on April 20 or Jacksonville on April 24. They’re not coming to Tampa, but you can’t always get what you want, now, can you?
The ’70s bred a lot of solo singers who still have sizable followings. There’s Laurel Canyon bard Jackson Browne, who plays Ruth Eckerd Hall on April 4; soul and disco diva Patti LaBelle, who returns to Ruth Eckerd Hall on April 25; and New Wave crooner Joe Jackson, who plays the Tampa Theatre on May 25. And there’s also Boz Scaggs, who headlines this year’s Tampa Bay Blues Fest on April 12-14, alongside Jonny Lang and Tab Benoit.
But the ’70s were a time of shag-carpeted conversion vans and laser-lit planetarium smokeouts. It was an era when stadium rock was king. And this spring and summer brings plenty of it.
There are farewell tour stops by face-painted glam gods Kiss on April 11 at Amalie Arena, and Black Sabbath’s Prince of F- - - - - - Darkness Ozzy Osbourne on June 2 at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheater. Frequent visitors Foreigner will play Busch Gardens on April 28, and the recently reunited Heart will play the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre with Joan Jett and the Blackhearts on Aug. 17. And Jeff Lynne’s Electric Light Orchestra will play their first Tampa Bay concert in more than 40 years on July 7 at Amalie Arena.
And then there’s Queen, arguably the biggest rock band of the past year thanks to Bohemian Rhapsody, who will finally play their first-ever Tampa show on Aug. 18 at Amalie Arena. They won’t have Rami Malek, but they will have Adam Lambert. Close enough.
What a beautiful bounty ’80s babies have before them, as we’re blessed with shows by both John Mellencamp (a.k.a. the American Bryan Adams) and Bryan Adams (a.k.a. the Canadian John Mellencamp). Mellencamp plays Ruth Eckerd Hall on March 29-30, while Adams hits Al Lang Field on May 7.
If we’re talking round-number nostalgia, 2019 marks the 30th anniversary of two pop classics from 1989: Right Here Waiting by Richard Marx, who hits the Capitol Theatre on April 12; and Closer to Fine by the Indigo Girls, who play Ruth Eckerd Hall on May 3. It’s also the 30th anniversary, give or take, of the Church’s breakthrough alt-rock album Starfish, which they’ll play in full on April 24 at the Palladium.
For something harder, there’s David Coverdale’s hair-metal heroes Whitesnake on April 23 at Ruth Eckerd Hall. And there’s a farewell tour stop by Reign in Blood titans Slayer on May 10 at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, with a robust lineup of newer-schoolers (Lamb of God, Amon Amarth and Tampa’s own Cannibal Corpse) fleshing out the bill.
Finally, Clearwater will bear witness to history on June 5, as “Weird Al” Yankovic will kick off his first-ever symphonic tour at Ruth Eckerd Hall. You simply haven’t heard Like a Surgeon until you’ve heard it with bassoons.
Who cares about being alternative when you’ve got a foothold in the mainstream? As Gen Xers and premillennials have grown up and gotten nostalgic, more ’90s acts have joined the profitable retro circuit. This year’s Busch Gardens Food and Wine Festival is all over the trend, with concerts by Stone Temple Pilots (April 6), the Mighty Mighty Bosstones (April 13), Boyz II Men (April 14) and Edwin McCain and Vertical Horizon (April 19).
Other ’90s acts are teaming up for festival-like package tours at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre: Hootie and the Blowfish and Barenaked Ladies on June 9; the Goo Goo Dolls and Train on July 7; and Bush, Live and Our Lady Peace on Aug. 16.
A few more goodies are sprinkled throughout the summer, including DMX on April 11 at the Ritz Ybor, Collective Soul on April 19 at the Capitol Theatre, Phish’s Trey Anastasio on May 28 at Jannus Live, Matchbox Twenty’s Rob Thomas on July 5 at the Mahaffey Theater and Dave Matthews Band at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheater on July 24.
But the best show combines multiple decades of indie rock into one stellar night: Beck, playing Tampa for the first time since 1997, along with Cage the Elephant and Spoon on Aug. 29 at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre. A lineup like that is truly where it’s at.
If you can define the 2000s in a single trend, you’re one up on us.
Let’s see, now: There was the New York indie rock revival and ensuing music-blog renaissance, trends illustrated by Interpol, at the Mahaffey Theater on April 8, and Animal Collective’s Avey Tare, at Crowbar on April 24. There was the shimmery sparkle of reggaeton stars like Don Omar, who plays the Yuengling Center on May 5, and post-Y2K hip-hop and R&B acts like B2K, Mario, Pretty Ricky, Lloyd, Ying Yang Twins, Chingy and Bobby V, who play Amalie Arena on May 11. There were the downtuned echoes of nu-metal and metalcore, which will roar again when Godsmack and Three Days Grace play 98 Rockfest on April 14 at Amalie.
This was the decade when Tampa built the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre and became a top destination for rising country acts like Rascal Flatts (May 24) and Dierks Bentley (July 20). And it was the decade when more contemporary Christian stars blew up — think Chris Tomlin at the Yuengling Center on April 4-5, MercyMe at Amalie Arena on May 5 and Hillsong United at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre on May 11.
Until we sort all this out, let’s just close our eyes and think about Hugh Jackman, who hit the decade running as Wolverine in 2000’s X-Men. He won a Tony in 2004 for The Boy From Oz, a musical that partly inspired the summer tour that will bring him to Amalie Arena on July 5.
Beyond that, it’s hard to say how we should remember the 2010s. Maybe it was the decade when digital clicks overpowered all else, as evidenced by viral cover stars Postmodern Jukebox, who play Ruth Eckerd Hall on April 26. Maybe it was the decade when America fell in love with DJs like Skrillex and Kaskade, who will play the Sunset Music Festival on May 25-26 at Raymond James Stadium. Or maybe it was the decade when Nashville got overpopulated by bros like Florida Georgia Line, who hit the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheater on Aug. 30.
Or maybe some of the acts who emerged will make this decade look a lot better in the years to come. Forward-thinking folk acts like the Punch Brothers (March 29, Capitol Theatre) or Milk Carton Kids (May 3, Capitol Theatre). Impassioned pop talents like Tori Kelly (April 8, Jannus Live), Leon Bridges (April 18, Ruth Eckerd Hall) or Lauren Daigle (June 28, Yuengling Center). Bold singer-songwriters like Lucy Dacus (May 7, Crowbar) or Tash Sultana (May 7, Jannus Live). Potential arena headliners like Young the Giant and Fitz and the Tantrums (July 18, Cuban Club).
A lot more 2019 shows will be announced soon, which is good. We still have nine months left. We’d better make the most of them.
Contact Jay Cridlin at [email protected] or (727) 893-8336. Follow @JayCridlin.