Live Music Is Back in a Big Way, and These Are the 20 Shows We’re Most Excited About
Your favorite bands are hitting the road again. Here’s your full guide
Last year, when the Rolling Stones tour grossed over $130 million and the Eagles earned $59 million, “we were all doing victory dances,” says Andy Gensler, editor of the concert industry bible Pollstar. His 2021 cover headline was “The Great Return. “Then came Omicron, and we stopped dancing,” he adds.
But now things are looking up again — way up. “There are more tours getting going right now than we know what to do with,” Gensler says. “Fans have so much to choose from in 2022.” To pare down that bounty, we’ve selected the 20 acts we’re most excited to see, based on both the rarity of the event and the sheer power of the performer.
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When: April 28-June 16
Why we’re excited: Brace yourselves. This year, the “cute” Beatle turns 80. Yet, in the lead-up to the event he has been as busy as a teenager. In 2021, Sir Paul released a solo album, McCartney III; spoke at length with Rick Rubin for an informative docuseries, McCartney 3,2,1; published a 900-plus-page tome that detailed the lyrics to his classic songs; and reappeared as his younger self in the eight-hour, you-are-there Peter Jackson version of the 1970 Beatles breakup film, Get Back. In cheeky deference to that last project, Paul has titled his new tour “Got Back,” studding it with stops in cities he hasn’t played in eons, including Fort Worth (which hasn’t seen the star since a 1976 gig with Wings) and Baltimore (where he last played in 1964). One hopes the tour doesn’t wind him, because two days after it concludes, 80 candles will appear before him, begging to be blown.
Get tickets: Paul McCartney, “Got Back” tour
Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
When: June 1-17
Why we’re excited: Fifteen years have passed since the former Led Zeppelin howler toured with bluegrass/country star Alison Krauss. Their understated collaboration on the Raising Sand album in 2007 became an unexpected million-seller, as well as a top Grammy winner. Even so, they didn’t offer a follow-up until this past November, with Raise the Roof, a work that weaves British traditional elements into the Americana style that defined their debut. With material that compelling, it’s doubtful any attendee will miss yet another run at “Stairway.”
Get tickets: Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
When: Now through Nov. 19
Why we’re excited: The artist who captured the full ache of teen rejection in the hit “At Seventeen” has decided to put a period on her career at 70. Thankfully, before Ian makes good on that promise, she’ll perform one last tour, in the process summarizing a 50-year run marked by consistently literary lyrics and sophisticated music. From her groundbreaking 1967 hit about an interracial romance (“Society’s Child”) through ravishing compositions like “Stars” (which has been covered by everyone from Nina Simone to Mel Tormé), Ian has distinguished herself as one of pop’s most empathic singer-songwriters.
Get tickets: Janis Ian
When: April-June and July-Oct.
Why we’re excited: Dave Grohl could well be the hardest-working man in rock. In just the last year, he released a new Foo album, published a memoir and starred in a horror film, titled Studio 666. Moreover, last June Grohl’s band became the performing equivalent of a canary in a coal mine by becoming the first act to play Madison Square Garden since the March 2020 shutdown. Now the Foos are back for a multi-continent run of shows that will shuttle between South American dates starting this month, U.S. stops beginning in late April and a European jaunt in June, only to culminate one month later with North American gigs that run straight through Halloween.
Get tickets: Foo Fighters
When: June 14-Aug. 13
Why we’re excited: Big changes have taken place in Chick-ville since the pandemic took hold. In June of 2020, the trio amended their name, axing the “Dixie” part to protest the term’s historic connection to slavery. One month later they released their first album in 14 years, Gaslighter, which shot straight into Billboard’s top 5. Together, that gives the Chicks both new songs to mix in with their hits and a renewed sense of purpose.
Get tickets: The Chicks
When: Now until April 28, and July 15-Nov. 20
Why we’re excited: Talk about your long goodbyes. All the way back in September of 2018, Elton began his retirement tour. Four years later, he’s still at it. This month, the “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” show picked up in Europe, leading to the Rocket Man’s 75th birthday, which will take place on the 25th. Directly after that he’ll continue a world jaunt that’s set to last through 2023. But don’t get complacent. Elton may never play your town again, so now’s probably your last chance to hear “Your Song” in person.
Get tickets: Elton John, “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” tour
When: Now through May 11
Why we’re excited: The pandemic wasn’t the only nightmare the members of Journey had to deal with over the last two years. Half the band sued the other half over financial issues, resulting in the departure of two of their longest-standing players (Ross Valory and Steve Smith). Of course, Journey has survived far worse, including the departure of their lead singer, Steve Perry, who was replaced in 2007 by the improbably perfect Arnel Pineda. (Born in the Philippines, Pineda used to play in a Journey tribute group.) As the band approaches its 50th year, they’ve got a new album, Freedom, meant to arrive sometime during this road show.
Get tickets: Journey
When: Now through May 25
Why we’re excited: Playing an album front to back has become a central draw of classic-rock concerts. It’s an especially enticing one when that album is Hotel California, one of the biggest sellers of all time, at 26 million and counting. To flesh out the band’s performance of it, they’ll be backed by a 46-piece orchestra and a 22-person choir. A second set each night will boast hits from the group’s other albums. Oh, and in case you’re wondering how they can re-create the creamy harmonies of those original recordings since the 2016 death of singer Glenn Frey, his son Deacon, who’s been touring with the band for the last five years, can re-create his dad’s tone to a T.
Get tickets: Eagles
When: April 24-May 10 and Oct. 7-9 (only at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas)
Why we’re excited: Van Morrison has long been known as one of the world’s greatest singers. Unfortunately, he’s just as well known as one of music’s crankiest men. On the latter front, he outdid himself over the last two years by protesting lockdowns in his Irish homeland, as well as promoting what the BBC labeled conspiracy theories about the virus. He even released three songs to amplify those views, one of which featured fellow anti-vaxxer Eric Clapton. Luckily, fans come to Van for his singing not his science, so the focus will remain the magic of “Moondance.”
Get tickets: Van Morrison
Red Hot Chili Peppers
When: July 23-Sept. 18
Why we’re excited: Arguably the most creative guitarist the Chili Peppers has ever had is John Frusciante. But his history with the band has been fraught. He ditched them in 1992, only to return six years later, before leaving again in 2009. Now the talented axman is at last back in the fold for what will be his first tour with the Peppers in 15 years. What’s more, he’s featured on their new album, Unlimited Love, set to arrive later this year.
Get tickets: Red Hot Chili Peppers
Mötley Crüe/Def Leppard/Poison/Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
When: June 16-Sept. 9
Why we’re excited: Break out the Aqua Net — hair metal lives! The most anticipated tour of the coming summer will revive the hard-partying rawk of the ’80s. Though Mötley Crüe loudly announced their retirement seven years ago, the lure of this mega-tour clearly inspired them to “un-retire.” While the three other acts on the bill can often be found on the road, the chance to see them all together may well be a singular event.
Get tickets: Mötley Crüe/Def Leppard/Poison/Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
Tears for Fears
When: May 20-June 25
Why we’re excited: Rare is the heritage group that refuses to rest on their laurels. This year, Tears for Fears became one of the few by releasing a collection of new songs — their first in nearly two decades — that broke the mold. “We need new material to keep us excited,” Tears member Curt Smith recently told The New York Times. Not that the show will be a total reinvention. The old hits will still be on order.
Get tickets: Tears for Fears
When: March 28-Nov. 19
Why we’re excited: Most musicians endure the road for one reason — the thrill of the show itself. But as Raitt recently told AARP, she loves “every part of it.” Her enthusiasm shows. At 72, the singer has grown deeper than ever into the maturity of her material. Better yet, in concert she can show off more of her fleet slide-guitar work than normally turns up on her studio recordings. For this tour, she’ll add to her classics the self-penned songs from her first album in six years, Just Like That, which includes material inspired by the losses (both personal and collective) caused by the pandemic.
Get tickets: Bonnie Raitt
When: Now until April 14
Why we’re excited: The Nobel Prize winner began his “never ending tour” 24 years ago and, following a pause for COVID, he’s soldiering on through his 80th year. Dylan’s most recent album, Rough and Rowdy Ways, has earned some of his best reviews in ages. The tour will highlight an ever-changing set list plucked from the artist’s vast catalog.
Get tickets: Bob Dylan, “Rough and Rowdy Ways” tour
When: June 11-Sept. 7
Why we’re excited: Rod titled his latest tour “The Hits,” just in case anyone might worry for a second that they wouldn’t hear “Maggie May.” Even so, the set list ventures beyond his top sellers. Some of the songs he hasn’t sung in years, including “The Killing of Georgie (Part I and II),” a groundbreaking 1976 recording that offered one of the first sympathetic portrayals of a gay person to make the pop charts.
Get tickets: Rod Stewart, “The Hits” tour
New Edition and Jodeci
When: Now until April 10
Why we’re excited: The mid-1980s saw a bold reinvention of R&B, courtesy of the fresh beats and innovative technology of hip-hop. The resulting trend, new jack swing, greatly impacted both R&B and pop radio. Two of the cleverest, and most successful, groups in that movement were New Edition and Jodeci. Now they’ve teamed up for “The Culture” tour, adding ex-Gap Band singer Charlie Wilson for a creative trifecta.
Get tickets: New Edition and Jodeci, “The Culture” tour
When: March 25-April 2 and May 27-Nov. 5
Why we’re excited: Like John Mayer, Keith Urban is one singer-songwriter who only shows his full talents as a guitarist live. While casual fans might expect to hear his popular songs, his most dedicated followers know that Urban’s skills as a musician will also get special play.
Get tickets: Keith Urban
When: May 27-July 9
Why we’re excited: Few groups offer as visually stunning a presentation as Kraftwerk. Their shows are gorgeously designed events, with outsize images projected over the musicians that vividly illustrate the mechanical themes of the music. Even better, those images will appear in 3D, viewable through complimentary glasses given to each ticket holder. An added bonus: Kraftwerk draws exceptionally diverse crowds to their shows, comprising hip-hop fans, dance devotees, electronic aficionados, avant-gardists and stone-cold rockers.
Get tickets: Kraftwerk
When: March 28-July 5
Why we’re excited: Two years ago, when the Zombies were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, singer Colin Blunstone proved that he still commanded one of music’s most flexible voices. The band he fronts may be best known for ’60s hits like “She’s Not There” and “Time of the Season,” but they also became pioneers of chamber pop with the creation of the ornate Odyssey and Oracle. Selections from that collection will turn up at the shows, along with a clutch of new songs from an album set to arrive later this year.
Get tickets: The Zombies
When: July 6-Oct. 8
Why we’re excited: Perhaps no musician has a better feel for our current world of war and environmental peril than Roger Waters. His concerts are shadowy spectacles, full of compelling menace and late-breaking redemption. Small wonder he titled his latest show “This Is Not a Drill.” Waters has described it as “a stunning indictment of corporate dystopia in which we all struggle to survive” as well as “a call to action to love, protect and share our precious and precarious planet.” The show, to be performed in the round, will cherry-pick songs from throughout Pink Floyd’s catalog along with some new pieces. Waters’ concerts have always been immersive affairs, with impeccable sound and stage design, ever attuned to the dark side.
Get tickets: Roger Waters, “This Is Not a Drill” tour
Jim Farber is a contributing writer who was the New York Daily News music critic for 25 years. He writes for AARP, The New York Times and The Guardian, and twice won the ASCAP Foundation Deems Taylor Award for America’s best music writing.