The return to huge, live-music events this summer splits both ways. There’s pent-up demand for the communal experience, but also the potential that we’re being choosier with our time and money after a couple years of traumatic isolation. As we should be.
Some of us have been waiting since 2020 to use previously purchased concert tickets, while others are shelling out hundreds of dollars to catch acts at new shows. But with literally thousands of concerts at hundreds of Colorado venues this summer, where to start?
Here are 10 of the biggest metro-area shows to consider in 2022 — amid the countless concerts scheduled at clubs, theaters and amphitheaters. All are on sale and with tickets available, unless otherwise noted. Visit denverpost.com/music for more.
May 11, Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Loyal Nicks fans were robbed when Stevie canceled her JAS Aspen show last year due to rising COVID concerns (Jimmy Buffet hopped in for her, which was like replacing a cherry with a clown nose). But with a brighter outlook this year, Nicks is returning to an even better venue to work her magic, which has been only slightly dimmed of late — a recent Fleetwood Mac show had her nailing old tunes, just a register or two lower. It’s sold out, but if you’re fabulously wealthy there are pricey after-market tickets available at axs.com.
Dead & Company
June 17-18, Folsom Field
It’s a cliché to note that Grateful Dead fans have mutated into the stuffy, well-heeled retirees the band originally grated against. But Dead & Company’s latest shows at Folsom Field — a venue they play on and off, along with Fiddler’s and Red Rocks — cost a minimum of $100, with fees, for the absolute cheapest GA tickets. Not exactly grassroots. And while the band rakes it in at every stop, from merch to package deals, that doesn’t lessen the communal thrill of seeing a show at the actually impressive Folsom in Boulder. Tickets for this year’s lineup — with Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, John Mayer, Bob Weir with Oteil Burbridge and Jeff Chimenti — went on sale last week. $75-$160. axs.com
June 26, Ball Arena
The diminishing returns of heritage acts touring their greatest hits is especially obvious this year, even with new production baubles: Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend (a.k.a. The Who), Roger Daltrey (of Pink Floyd), James Taylor, Alan Parsons, etc. But Stewart, the rock, pop and standards vocalist whose career longevity is both earned and impressive, has managed to avoid the pitfalls of aging acts with stale sets. His charming and expertly smooth show returns to Ball Arena this summer, and like the Rolling Stones at Mile High in 2019, you’d be a fool to miss this if you haven’t seen him yet. With opener Cheap Trick. $29-$500. ticketmaster.com
Mötley Crüe, Def Leppard, Poison, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
July 21, Coors Field
Announced three years ago, then postponed by the pandemic, this massive concert at the home of the Colorado Rockies isn’t the only big show there this year — Denver-based folk-pop act The Lumineers will also headline the very next day, on July 22 — but it does have the best-known acts. Expect a mix of irony and sincerity in the incredible fashion displays (mostly in the audience) and full-throated sing-alongs, which are rooted in these bands’ 1980s heydays. $119-$750. mlb.com/rockies/tickets/concerts
Boyz II Men with Colorado Symphony
Aug. 2, Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre
Nostalgia has a magical way of lifting our wallets, as proven by Backstreet Boys’ and New Kids on the Block’s ongoing, vaguely inexplicable comeback (they’re both in Denver this summer, too). And yet there’s something substantive in July 22’s Boyz II Men show with the Colorado Symphony, at Fiddler’s. While the R&B group hasn’t released anything notable in years, they’re more grounded, less examined and fresher than most of their ’90s pop-peers — despite having also worn a groove in the nostalgia circuit. Orchestral arrangements of their classics have the potential to sound like revelations to longtime fans. We hope. Tickets, $35-$150, are on sale at 10 a.m. Friday, April 15. axs.com
Aug. 11, Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Like fellow music legend Stevie Nicks, Raitt’s Red Rocks show quickly sold out (having Mavis Staples as your opener certainly doesn’t hurt). But it’s a good excuse to remind fans of blues, Americana and folk that she’s not the only female-headlining act at a major amphitheater in Colorado this year. At Red Rocks in particular, see also Lake Street Dive (May 8), Phoebe Bridgers (May 17), Erykah Badu (June 7) and Halsey (July 6-7). Raitt, of course, is an undisputed songwriting titan and guitarist and will slay this appearance, so if you were lucky enough to get a ticket, prepare to collect your jaw from the floor. Also recommended for Americana fans at Red Rocks: The Chicks (Aug. 2-3), Brandi Carlile (Sept. 9-10) and Maren Morris (Oct. 19). axs.com
Aug. 18, Empower Field at Mile High
With its 76,000-capacity — give or take depending on the setup — the Denver Broncos’ home stadium is easily the state’s biggest concert venue when it’s used as such. This year it’s got shows from Luke Combs (May 21), Global Dance Festival (various acts, July 15-16), Red Hot Chili Peppers (July 23), and Kenny Chesney (July 30). But they’re not the best ones.
That could have been Foo Fighters, which sadly canceled its Aug. 6 concert at Empower Field after the March 25 death of drummer Taylor Hawkins. Now it’s unquestionably The Weeknd, the Grammy-winning Canadian phenom who can’t seem to stop churning out sultry earworms and club bangers. His After Hours Til Dawn tour plays there Aug. 18, and about a third of the stadium (on the south side) is blocked off for the setup, which bodes well for the sound. $35-$306. ticketmaster.com
Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
Sept. 1, Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Announced only this week, the second leg of this pair’s 2022 tour now has a Red Rocks Amphitheatre stop on Sept. 1. Plant, the former Led Zeppelin vocalist and Americana devotee (he’s also a longtime fan of Denver’s Nathaniel Rateliff) and Krauss, the pioneering bluegrass-folk vocalist and player, haven’t lost a step since they began collaborating in 2007. Pure magic. $60-$200. On sale 10 a.m. Friday, April 15. axs.com
Sept. 5, Dick’s Sporting Goods Field
Imagine Dragons has a hard time releasing songs that don’t become monster singles, and there’s good reason in their lockstep catchiness and bracingly direct lyrics. The mega-popular Nevada band, which outgrew its Red Rocks shows awhile back, is bringing its Mercury World Tour to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, the sprawling site of Phish’s annual Labor Day shows (also returning this year) and, in the past, the top-heavy Mile High Music Festival. This Sept. 5 concert includes openers Macklemore and Kings Elliot. $74-$185. ticketmaster.com
Sept. 14, Ball Arena
This 23-year-old Canadian singer-songwriter, responsible for the ubiquitous “There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back,” just started grinding on his 64-date “Wonder World Tour” last month, so expect some international seasoning by the time he takes the stage in Denver this fall. $55-$195. Mendes is part of a huge, 30-day period at Ball Arena, with more shows from The Killers (Aug. 31), Roger Waters (Sept. 6), Keith Urban (Sept. 16), Iron Maiden (Sept. 17), Pearl Jam (Sept. 22), My Chemical Romance (Sept. 30), and Florence + the Machine (Oct. 1). ticketmaster.com
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