The concert season this spring will be busy, with one-name headliners like Lorde and Pink packing arenas and theaters, casino showrooms and clubs, doing brisk business while the weather remains too chilly to rock without a roof.
This annotated list of upcoming shows is a recommended sampling of all that’s going on. The albums portion of this preview isn’t as lengthy as the concerts section because artists like to keep their release plans secret until they’re good and ready to spring the music on fans.
So, in addition to those listed, might the likes of Kanye West, Beyoncé, and Bruce Springsteen also have albums on the way in 2018? They might, but they’re not about to tell you just yet.
Darlene Love (Feb. 15, Upper Darby Performing Arts Center). The powerhouse singer behind Phil Spector’s girl-group Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans and the voice of “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” teamed up with producer Steven Van Zandt for Introducing Darlene Love in 2015. (610-662-1189, udpac.org)
Mary J. Blige (Feb. 16, Borgata Event Center). The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul’s career is back in excellent condition after last year’s rock-solid Strength of a Woman and a stellar performance in Dee Rees’ historical drama, Mudbound, for which she earned a well-deserved Oscar nomination. (609-317-1000, theborgata.com)
Phoebe Bridgers / Soccer Mommy (Feb. 21, World Cafe Live). Tantalizing tandem of Bridgers, whose 2017 Stranger in the Alps was a powerful depiction of deeply felt despair, and Sophie Allison, the buzzed-about 20-year-old Nashville songwriter on leave from NYU. (215-222-1400, worldcafelive.com)
Kid Rock (Feb. 23, Wells Fargo Center). He thankfully is not running for the Senate in Michigan, but the country-rock-rap hyphenate born Bob Ritchie is bringing his “American Rock ‘n Roll” tour to town. That’s the new name of his arena jaunt after Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey stopped him from calling it “The Greatest Show on Earth.” (215-336-3600, wellsfargocenterphilly.com)
Kelela (Feb. 27, Theatre of Living Arts). The Ethiopian American experimental R&B singer nurtured and refined her talent on a series of mix tapes and EPs before stepping to the head of the class at age 34 with last year’s superb debut, Take Me Apart. (215-922-1011, tlaphilly.com)
Miguel (March 20, The Fillmore). The Los Angeles genre-blending sensual songwriter and showman Miguel Pimental’s War & Leisure was a late-breaking 2017 standout, if not quite up to the standards of his best album, 2012’s Kaleidoscope Dream. (fillmorephilly.com, 215-309-0150)
Lee Ann Womack (March 22, Sellersville Theater). The Texas-born torch and twang singer has excelled artistically since going her own indie way in the last decade. Her album The Lonely, the Lonesome and the Gone took top honors in Nashville Scene’s 2017 country music poll. (215-257-5808, st94.com)
k.d. lang (March 23, Keswick Theatre). The Canadian chanteuse celebrates the 25th anniversary of her 1992 breakthrough with the Ingenue Redux tour, which will include a complete performance of the album that included “Constant Craving.” (215-572-7650, keswicktheatre.com)
Dan Auerbach (March 24, Union Transfer). The super-efficient leader of the Black Keys is one of the busiest producers in the business, and has multiple side projects to boot. Last year, he debuted as a solo artist with the pop-flavored, 1970s singer-songwriterish Waiting on a Song. (215-232-1200, utphilly.com)
Talib Kweli / Soul Rebels (March 30, Ardmore Music Hall). The conscious New York rapper who was one-half of Black Star with Mos Def is paired with one of the most energetic and adventurous of next-generation New Orleans brass bands. (610-649-8389, ardmoremusic.com)
Lorde (April 2, Wells Fargo Center). The “Royals” songwriter took an impressive leap forward with 2017’s Melodrama, an album that topped year-end lists and earned an album of the year nomination from the Grammys, which then dissed her by not offering her a solo performance spot. (215-336-3600, wellsfargocenterphilly.com)
Khuangbrin (April 7, Underground Arts). Difficult-to-categorize, thoroughly captivating Houston trio showcasing bass player Laura Lee that was originally inspired by Thai funk bands. My pick to click on a busy night, with Yo La Tengo at Union Transfer and Anderson East at the TLA also that evening. (215-627-1332, undergroundarts.org)
Pink (April 13, Wells Fargo Center). Doylestown’s own Alecia Moore, the Super Bowl “Star-Spangled Banner” singer, touring behind Beautiful Trauma, the 2017 album that spawned the populist anthem “What About Us” and reaffirmed her status as Philly’s biggest pop star. (215-336-3600, wellsfargocenterphilly.com)
John Prine and Kurt Vile (April 14, Merriam Theater). A cool double bill headlined by the revered folk songwriter whose first album of new material since 2005 is due this year. He’ll be joined by hometown hero Vile, a Prine superfan. (215-893-1999, kimmelcenter.org)
Reba McEntire (April 27-28, Xcite Center). Parx Casino’s new Xcite Center in Bensalem has a busy lineup of veteran country stars and heritage rock acts. KFC’s current Col. Sanders-playing singer-actress holds down two nights. (888-588-7279, parxcasino.com)
Bon Jovi (May 3, Wells Fargo Center). New Jersey’s second-most-favorite rock star is getting inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April (by Howard Stern), and that honor has catapulted the band to another arena tour. (215-336-3600, wellsfargocenterphilly.com)
Low Cut Connie (May 17, Union Transfer). The Philly old-school rock and soul band led by piano-pounding showman Adam Weiner returns a day before the release of the second volume of its Ardent Studios-recorded opus, Dirty Pictures (Part 2). (215-232-1200, utphilly.com)
Hoagie Nation (May 26, Festival Pier). It’ll be almost summer by the time the second edition of this Daryl Hall and John Oates-branded festival rolls around. This year’s lineup features San Francisco pop band Train, as well as Fitz and the Tantrums and Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers. (215-922-1011, festivalpierphilly.com)
Car Seat Headrest. Twin Fantasy (Face to Face) (Feb. 16). Will Toledo emerged as a indie wunderkind with his 2015 Matador Records debut, Teens of Style, culled from eight previous self-released albums. Now the 25-year-old Car Seat Headrest leader is excavating his past once again, re-recording and reworking his 2011 album, Twin Fantasy.
Brandi Carlile, By the Way, I Forgive You (Feb. 16). The 10th anniversary of the Americana singer’s 2007 album, The Story, was celebrated with Cover Stories, a charity fundraiser with versions by Adele and Dolly Parton. By the Way, I Forgive You pairs Carlile with red-hot Nashville producer Dave Cobb.
Lucy Dacus, Historian (March 2). The Richmond, Va., songwriter made her mark with her 2016 No Burden album and its forthright single, “I Don’t Want to Be Funny Anymore.” She further toughens up her sound on her second album, and also plays Johnny Brenda’s on April 13.
Rae Sremmurd, Sremmlife 3 (TBA). Spell it backward: It’s drummer’s ear. The Tupelo, Miss., hip-hop duo who proclaimed themselves the “Black Beatles” in 2015 will return with what producer Mike WiLL Made-It says will be a triple album.
David Byrne, American Utopia (March 9). The former Talking Heads front man’s first solo album since 2004 finds Byrne collaborating with old pals like Brian Eno as well as young talent such as producer Oneohtrix Point Never. Byrne also plays the Xponential Music Fest in Camden on July 27.
Vampire Weekend (TBA). The first album in four years from the Ezra Koenig-fronted indie-pop synthesists. Koenig has teased the working title Mitsubishi Macchiato, but expect that to change.
Jack White, Boarding House Reach (March 23). Since his days in the White Stripes, Jack White has always excelled at using his peculiarities to sell his blues rock. This time he’s got people talking by planing to ban cellphone use at his concert tour, which does not as of yet have a Philadelphia date.
Hop Along, Bark Your Head Off, Dog (April 6). The Philadelphia rock quartet led by fabulously expressive singer and storytelling songwriter Frances Quinlan follows up its 2015 breakthrough, Painted Shut. Also playing Union Transfer on May 19.
Cardi B (TBA). Belcalis Almanzar had an amazing 2017, thanks to the breakout hit “Bodak Yellow,” which bounced the Bronx-born rapper to the top of the charts. The emcee has gathered more momentum with her follow-up hit, “Bartier Cardi,” and Grammy-night collaboration with Bruno Mars on “Finesse.” Her as-yet-unnamed debut album is due sooner rather than later.