Summer’s here, which means the time is right for dancing in the seats (or on the lawn, if you’re on a tight budget). As the temperature rises, rock, pop and country tours tend to leave arenas to give fans the experience of hearing their favorite performers live under the stars (or under the rain, if you’re unlucky). Here’s a roundup of some of this summer’s top shed and stadium tours.
One of the biggest stories in music news this year has been the reunion of The Beach Boys with their original leader and songwriter Brian Wilson. The band — which also includes Al Jardine, Mike Love and Bruce Johnston — will be touring through the summer, playing classics from “Fun, Fun, Fun” to “God Only Knows.”
James Taylor is a summer perennial; although he hasn’t put out an album of new songs in a decade, fans come back summer after summer to hear him sing “Fire And Rain,” “You’ve Got A Friend” and “Sweet Baby James,” and if you catch him this summer, it’s a solid bet that he’ll play all of those songs (as well as everything else on his Greatest Hits album, which was released in 1976).
Two bands who hit the sheds nearly every summer will be teaming up for a package tour: Chicago and The Doobie Brothers. Another team-up: Joe Cocker with Huey Lewis & The News. ZZ Top, with their beards and unique brand of boogie rock, will out there too.
Ringo Starr has assembled the latest version of his “All-Starr” band, for which each member of the group sings their most popular songs. This time, he’s signed up keyboardist/singer Gregg Rolie (an original member of both Santana and Journey), guitarist Steve Lukather of Toto, Todd Rundgren and Mr. Mister’s Richard Page.
While The Allman Brothers Band and Santana get played on many of the same classic rock and classic hits stations as the aforementioned artists, neither band sticks as closely to their radio hits. Although both can be counted on to play a few smashes each night, you’ll hear a lot of lesser known songs and a good amount of improvisation if you go to the Allmans/Santana package tour this summer. But the bonus could be seeing icons Gregg Allman and Carlos Santana onstage together, as both guys are known to enjoy impromptu jams.
Looking to rock a little harder? Def Leppard and Poison are hitting the summer circuit together, with Lita Ford as the opening act. Not heavy enough for you? Need a bit more theater in your metal? No prob: Iron Maiden with special guest Alice Cooper are another package tour hitting the circuit. If you’re a Scorpions fan, and you’ve never caught them, this summer is your last chance: their “Final Sting” tour is making the rounds, with Seattle metal band Queensryche opening. And lock up your daughters (or moms): KISS and Motley Crue are hitting the road together as well.
If you came of age in the ‘90s and you want to relive your high school or college days, you’re in luck. Everclear, Sugar Ray, The Gin Blossoms, Lit and Marcy Playground are bringing their caravan of Clinton-era hits to your town (they’re playing mostly amphitheaters, but also some large clubs). Remember the jam band-based H.O.R.D.E tour? If you attended that particular festival and you remember it (not necessarily a given), you might want to catch a different package: Barenaked Ladies, Blues Traveler, Big Head Todd & The Monsters and Cracker have teamed up as well. Rap/reggae/metal hybrid 311 is touring with Slightly Stoopid. Speaking of hybrids, funk/hip-hop/ska band Sublime is hitting the road too. That’s not a typo, and they aren’t using a hologram of their late frontman Bradley Nowell (who died in 1996). Sublime has a new singer, known as “Rome.” Cypress Hill, who allegedly share some of Sublime’s botanical interests, are opening, so the vibes on that tour should be pretty happy.
If country is more your thing, Brad Paisley is taking The Band Perry out on the road, while Toby Keith will also be headlining his own tour. Keith will have Brantley Gilbert on a number of dates — and if you’re wondering why Gilbert plays a couple of Jason Aldean’s hits, it’s because he wrote them.
Are amphitheaters just too small for your taste? Don’t fret: the fine art of rocking stadiums is still alive and well. Roger Waters is bringing his “Wall” tour for one last swing through America. Don’t expect to hear the former Pink Floyd frontman perform any Dark Side Of The Moon or Wish You Were Here hits: he’s doing The Wall, start to finish, and that’s it. That said, it’s one of the most visually spectacular shows you’ll ever witness. Speaking of visual spectaculars, Madonna, will support her MDNA album with a stadium swing. Finally, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band is spending much of the summer in Europe, but they return to these shores to play some of the country’s largest venues in late August.
Now, get some ear plugs (these shows can be loud!), brace your credit card and grab a raincoat (odds are, you’ll get rained on at least once). It’s time to figure out your summer schedule.
What shows do you want to see? Sound off in the comment section.
Brian Ives is the Classic Rock/Classic Hits Producer for CBS Local Digital Media. Follow him on Twitter at @noexpiration.