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Idina Menzel talks Taylor Swift, Joni Mitchell, balancing pop and Broadway and more

Idina Menzel will perform at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater.

Warner Bros.

Idina Menzel will perform at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater.

No matter how great a show Idina Menzel puts on Thursday at Ruth Eckerd Hall, it’ll forever pale to the one she gave Tampa on Halloween in 2015.

That’s the night Menzel dressed as Frozen’s Queen Elsa and joined Taylor Swift at Raymond James Stadium to sing Let It Go.

“It was perfect,” the Broadway legend said in a recent phone interview. “She sent a plane for me and my family and that was an unbelievable experience. When we showed up, I realized she was there for soundcheck and rehearsal. She thought up the whole thing about how I’d come up the (stage) elevator, and I was really taken by her directness and her confidence, her certainty in herself. It was inspiring.”

Coming from Menzel, whose roles in Rent, Wicked and, yes, Frozen made her a stage and screen icon, that means a lot. She’ll soar through her career’s greatest hits, albeit without the Elsa dress, Thursday at Ruth Eckerd Hall. Tickets are $73.75 and up. Click here for details.

For more of Piper Castillo's interview with Idina Menzel, click here.

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Review: Muse, Thirty Seconds to Mars bring monster rock might to Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre

Muse performed at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa on May 21, 2017.

Jay Cridlin

Muse performed at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa on May 21, 2017.

In one corner was Matt Bellamy of Muse, stepping from the shadows in glowing blue shades and glowing blue sneakers, a glowing blue guitar strapped across his red satin jacket, moaning and wailing like Bono reborn.

In the other was Jared Leto of Thirty Seconds to Mars in a sparkling gold jacket and nighttime shades, flannel cinching his beltline, striking messianic poses and twirling his arms like rotor blades to stir the crowd into hysterics.

Over here you had Bellamy wiggling his whammy and twisting his knobs, his fingers screaming up and down the fretboard in a barrage of riffs and solos that would melt the walls of your local Guitar Center.

Over there you had Leto venturing up to the crowd, sweat steaming up that ageless teen-idol face, strumming an acoustic guitar as fans scrambled atop one another to grab the perfect pic for Instagram.

Do rock stars like these exist anymore? Inveterate showoffs who treat to-the-brink rocksmanship as though it's not only their right, but their obligation? Singers who embody every over-the-top cliche in the frontman playbook, while at the same time justifying the playbook's existence in the first place?

Alternative stadium rock may not be the titanic cultural force it once was – if you don’t play synth-driven dance-rock, good luck cracking heavy radio rotation – but in front of 16,000 full-throated fans at Tampa’s MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre Sunday night, Muse and Thirty Seconds to Mars performed like it’s the only music that matters.Full Story

Could 2018 NHL All-Star Game bring major concert festival to Tampa?

If the NHL All-Star Game returns to Tampa in 2018, it might give Drake a chance to dust off the Steven Stamkos jersey he wore in concert in 2016.

Luis Santana

If the NHL All-Star Game returns to Tampa in 2018, it might give Drake a chance to dust off the Steven Stamkos jersey he wore in concert in 2016.

In case you missed the news this week, Tampa is reportedly the top choice to host the 2018 NHL All-Star Game, which would bring one of hockey's premiere events to town for the first time in nearly 20 years.

Anytime a big-time sporting event comes to town -- the Super Bowl, the College Football Playoff's National Championship, even a PGA tournament -- that means big-time music is probably coming, too. And the NHL All-Star Game would be no different.

For this year's NHL All-Star Game in Los Angeles, performers included John Legend, Nick Jonas, Fifth Harmony, Robin Thicke, Carly Rae Jepsen, Five For Fighting's John Ondrasik teamed up for performances at various galas and during the game itself. Jon Hamm also made an appearance.

Last year in Nashville, the festivities had, as you might expect, a strong country feel. Performers included Vince Gill, Jennifer Nettles, Lee Brice, Lennon & Maisy and more. There was a free four-day outdoor concert series with Big and Rich, Dierks Bentley, Chris Young, Kelsea Ballerini, Aaron Lewis, Eli Young, John Hiatt and more, with an indoor series featuring Tracy Lawrence, Lonestar, MercyMe, Charles Esten, Clare Bown and many more. …

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R.I.P. Chris Cornell: Looking back at his and Soundgarden's concerts in Tampa Bay

Chris Cornell and Soundgarden performed at 98 Rockfest at Amalie Arena in Tampa on April 28, 2017, just three weeks before his death.

Jay Cridlin

Chris Cornell and Soundgarden performed at 98 Rockfest at Amalie Arena in Tampa on April 28, 2017, just three weeks before his death.

I've written about Chris Cornell dozens of times over the years. Among the phrases I've used to describe his voice: "golden," "preserved in amber," "a work of art," a "jet-engine wail," "always the Seattle scene's best."

I could keep going, but you get the picture: I truly loved Soundgarden and Cornell, probably the best singer-songwriter of the grunge generation, and one of the best in all of rock over the past 30 years. Here's my tribute to a personal musical hero, found dead early Thursday in what a medical examiner ruled suicide by hanging.

Perhaps surprisingly for a singer with such strong Seattle ties, Cornell gave Tampa Bay fans plenty of memories over the past three decades, performing here many times in different incarnations.

In 1989, Soundgarden played the old Masquerade in Ybor City, and returned a year later to headline the Cuban Club, months before releasing Badmotorfinger. …

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Review: Bishop Briggs lives up to next big thing hype at the State Theatre in St. Petersburg

Bishop Briggs performed at the State Theatre in St. Petersburg on May 17, 2017.

Jay Cridlin

Bishop Briggs performed at the State Theatre in St. Petersburg on May 17, 2017.

Bishop Briggs paced the State Theatre stage like a penned-up puma, pouncing and snarling and singing with a fire belying her 24 years.

And then between almost every song during her sold-out concert on Wednesday, she would grin ear to ear and hunch shyly into her mic.

“The thought of headlining our own tour was such a far-off dream,” she said with a laugh. “We’re happy to say, with you guys, we did it.”

The State Theatre is where the up-and-comers come to play in Tampa Bay, and at this stage in 2017, the much-hyped Briggs fits that bill. Fresh off winning raves for her performances at Coachella and Shaky Knees, the Los Angeles-based singer drew a packed, all-ages mix of the curious and the diehard, some of whom styled their hair in her signature mouse-ears buns, and some of whom lined up outside by mid-afternoon for a shot at a space by the stage.

And what a thrilling view they must’ve gotten. Dressed like a Goth en route to tennis practice, practically swallowed by her bright white Lacoste track jacket, Briggs delivered an appropriately athletic set, rarely resting as she locked eyes with the crowd and gave them a taste of her Next Big Thing buzz. …

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SoundBytes: Band of Horses, Grizzly Bear, Rick Ross and more

-- Jannus Live is continuing their excellent hot streak of indie rock shows by booking Band of Horses on Oct. 6. Tickets are $29.50 and up and go on sale Friday. Click here.

-- One indie rock show Jannus Live didn't get: Grizzly Bear. They're embarking on a huge tour, but the closest it'll come is Orlando's House of Blues on Nov. 15. Click here.

-- Tread carefully here, because you know how these late-night club shows sometimes don't go off quite as advertised. But Rick Ross is slated to perform at Green Gators Bar and Grill in Tampa on June 30. Tickets are $25-$45. Click here.

-- Prog-metal group Between the Buried and Me is bringing their 10th anniversary tour of their album Colors to the State Theatre on Oct. 18. The Contortionist, Polyphia and Toothgrinder will open. Click here.

-- Oliver Heldens will headline the official Sunset Music Festival pre-party on May 26 at the Ritz Ybor, performing alongside Brohug. Tickets are $20 and up. Click here.

-- Speaking of EDM shows at the Ritz: Zomboy, Spag Heddy and Ricky Remedy will perform there on Aug. 5; tickets go on sale May 24. Click here.

-- And DJs ETC!ETC! and Meaux Green will perform at the Ritz on June 24. Click here. …

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Paul McCartney delays start of summer tour in Florida

First, the bad news: Paul McCartney is pushing back the start of his upcoming "One On One" tour, which was scheduled to begin July 5 in Miami.

Now the good news: It shouldn't affect his July 10 concert in Tampa.

McCartney announced Wednesday that he was moving his tour-opening concert at Miami's AmericanAirlines Arena from July 5 to July 7 "to accomodate enhancements for the tour's production." It's unclear what difference those two extra days will make, but an official announcement says the enhancements will be "exciting," so we'll see.

If you had tickets to McCartney's Miami show, those will still be honored at the July 7 date. Those unable to attend will be refunded at their original point of purchase. Click here for details.

The real bummer here, especially if you live in South Florida, is that McCartney moving his show to July 7 means he's now going head-to-head with Metallica, who play Hard Rock Stadium that same night. McCartney or Metallica? How do you choose?

And click here for details on McCartney's July 10 date in Tampa.

-- Jay Cridlin

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Phantogram, Tycho coming to Jannus Live in St. Petersburg

Phantogram

Justin Bishop for Vanity Fair

Phantogram

Jannus Live is on a roll in 2017.

Already this year, they've hosted mega-hot acts like Run the Jewels, the Shins, Portugal. The Man and Lil Uzi Vert. Now comes another show sure to draw out the tastemakers: Phantogram and Tycho.

The electro-alternative duo and psychedelically trip-hoppy producer are teaming up for a co-headlining tour that'll bring them to St. Petersburg on July 18, they announced today. Tickets go on sale Friday. Click here for details.

Phantogram, who played 97X Next Big Thing in December and are playing festivals like Firefly, Lollapalooza and Governors Ball this summer, snared a radio hit last year with You Don't Get Me High Anymore, while Tycho's live concerts are entrancing shows of of light and sound.

For fans of alternative electronic music that sways from glitchy rock to swirling ambience, this should be a sweet night. Both acts are capable of selling out similarly sized venues on their own, so getting them together is a can't-miss affair.

-- Jay Cridlin

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George Thorogood talks Southern rock, Chuck Berry and other legends and more

Over the past 40 years, George Thorogood has become one of American culture's best-known, hardest-touring bluesmen. But the original Delaware Destroyer could've been a Southern rocker.

"I listened to our sound, I listened to the style I played, and the record label I thought we should have been on was Capricorn," the 67-year-old singer said in a recent phone interview, referring to the Macon, Ga., label that housed the Allman Brothers Band, Marshall Tucker Band and the Outlaws. "I had that Southern slide boogie thing going — which I still do — and I thought that was the label that we could fit right into."

Instead he went with Rounder Records and others, and the rest is history: Singles like One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer; Move It On Over; Bad to the Bone; and Who Do You Love? became inescapable in films, TV and on the radio. Thorogood hit the road, and never looked back.

Forty years after his self-titled debut, Thorogood returns to Ruth Eckerd Hall on Thursday, eager to prove he still delivers the goods live. …

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SoundBytes: Paramore, 21 Savage, Supersuckers and more

Lindsey Byrnes

-- The good news: Paramore is coming to Florida! The bad news: They're coming everywhere but Tampa Bay. In addition to launching their Parahoy! cruise from Miami next year, they'll play Jacksonville, Orlando and Miami on their just-announced fall tour in support of new album After Laughter. The closest of these dates is Sept. 10 at Orlando's Dr. Phillips Center. Tickets are $38.50 and up. Click here.

-- Atlanta rapper 21 Savage has become a huge up-and-comer in the hip-hop world, so expect a raw, booming show when he performs at Jannus Live on June 24. Tickets are $36 and up. Click here.

-- Also coming to Jannus Live: The Youth Revival Tour, featuring Hillsong Young and Free, an Australian offshoot of Christian superstars Hillsong United. Ticketsa re $19.95 and up. Click here.

-- Supersuckers are coming to Crowbar on July 12. Tickets are $14 and up. Click here.

-- Bluegrassers the Steep Canyon Rangers (without Steve Martin, sadly) are coming to the Capitol Theatre on March 24. Tickets are $25 and up. Click here.

-- Viral string trio Simply Three is coming to the Straz Center on Nov. 13. Click here. …

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Review: X brings Exene Cervenka home to relive punk history at St. Petersburg's State Theatre

X performed at the State Theatre in St. Petersburg on May 14, 2017.

Brian Mahar

X performed at the State Theatre in St. Petersburg on May 14, 2017.

The crowd at Sunday’s X concert at the State Theatre obeyed the “no moshing” signs at the entrance. Instead, they made do by dancing and head-banging elbow to elbow.

On Mother’s Day, one of the founding mothers of punk, Exene Cervenka, joined three other original band members of X — rockabilly punk icon John Doe, drummer D.J. Bonebrake and guitarist Billy Zoom — for a 90-minute show, part of a 40th anniversary tour.

Relying on their first four albums created between 1980 and 1983, the band put a positive spin on the aging process. After 40 years, sure, there’s some grey hair and wrinkles, but there are also harmonies connected by decades, musicianship honed with countless live shows and a community of fans whose collective memory is rooted deep in the wayback machine.

First on the stage was Zoom, the quiet observer to the band’s punk chaos. Recognized in days gone by for his famed power stance, a battle with cancer has forced him to play guitar while sitting on a stool, although the man with the mischievous grin still rips it. He was soon followed by the others, who got to work with no fanfare, opening with Beyond and Back and In This House I Call Home. …

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Katy Perry, Kendrick Lamar coming to Amalie Arena in Tampa

Katy Perry and Kendrick Lamar both announced separate tour stops in Tampa on Monday morning.

Associated Press

Katy Perry and Kendrick Lamar both announced separate tour stops in Tampa on Monday morning.

What a way for music lovers to wake up on a Monday morning.

Two of pop music's biggest and most vital stars, Katy Perry and Kendrick Lamar, have announced tour stops at Tampa's Amalie Arena.

Lamar, the West Coast rapper behind some of this decade's most critically acclaimed albums -- including last month's DAMN. -- will hit Amalie Arena on Sept. 1. It'll be his second stop there, following a gig opening for Kanye West in 2013. YG and D.R.A.M. will open this show. Tickets start at $35.75 and go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday. Click here for details.

And Perry, who ranks with Taylor Swift, Adele, Lady Gaga and Beyonce as one of the world's biggest pop singers, will return to Amalie Arena for the first time since 2014 on Dec. 15.

Her tour comes in support of her just-announced new album Witness, featuring the singles Chained to the Rhythm and Bon Appetit, which comes out June 9. Tickets to the show start at $45.75 and go on sale at 10 a.m. May 22. Each ticket includes a pre-order for Witness, which ensures that's going to be one of this year's biggest albums. …

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Review: The Shins' Florida debut a vibrant, colorful experience at Jannus Live in St. Petersburg

The Shins performed at Jannus Live in St. Petersburg on May 13, 2017.

Jay Cridlin

The Shins performed at Jannus Live in St. Petersburg on May 13, 2017.

Was it worth the wait, St. Petersburg? Did the Shins change your life?

Sorry to be the 8 billionth person to trot out that old Garden State cliché, but you have to understand: That movie came out in 2004, by which point the Shins had been going for nearly a decade. And until their concert Saturday at Jannus Live, the beloved indie rockers had never played a single show in Florida. So we all had a lot of catching up to do.

“What took us so long, right?” singer James Mercer told the extremely sold-out crowd at their first and only Florida concert. “But here we are.”

Whatever earnest, heart-on-sleeve reputation the Shins might have cultivated over the past couple of decades, this gig showed Sunshine State fans just how much more they’ve been missing. It was a night of deep sound and rich color, from Mercer’s multitasking bandmates following his hyperactive lead to a multihued stage overflowing with colorful flowers. …

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Photos: The Damned bring 40 years of punk history to the State Theatre in St. Petersburg

The Damned performed at the State Theatre in St. Petersburg on May 13, 2017.

Brian Mahar

The Damned performed at the State Theatre in St. Petersburg on May 13, 2017.

Forty years after they became the first British band to release a punk record, the Damned are out on a North American tour, spreading their signature Goth-punk sound to an all-new generation.

Founding members Dave Vanian and Captain Sensible brought the Damned to the State Theatre in St. Petersburg on Saturday night.

Brian Mahar was there taking photos. Click the headline of this post for a slideshow.

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Review: The Weeknd shines in masterful pop spectacle at Amalie Arena in Tampa

The Weeknd performed at Amalie Arena on May 12, 2017.

Luis Santana

The Weeknd performed at Amalie Arena on May 12, 2017.

When the Starboy lands, you can’t avert your eyes.

He appears in smoke and a pyramid of laser beams cast down from a starship-sized mesa of neon tubes and LED screens – kinda hard to miss an entrance like that – and lights the fuse on the song that bears his name, a throbbing, crackling blast of Euro-disco so irresistible you’ll find yourself singing even if you don’t know the words.

And you realize: This is how an international pop megastar like the Weeknd does business in 2017.

Gone are the days when the Weeknd lingered in the shadows of R&B’s fringes, a cipher waiting to be decoded by those his glistening edge didn’t scare off. On Friday he played for a sold-out crowd of 16,500 at Tampa’s Amalie Arena – his second stop headlining the venue in 18 months, and by a wide margin the more eye-popping affair.

“I’m trying to understand," he asked in one of many audience-buttering asides, "is this the biggest motherf---ing party in Florida tonight?” …

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