Best Rock Tours of 2013
Hey hey, my my, our countdown of the Best Rock Tours of 2013 proves that rock ‘n’ roll will never die. Once again, some of the biggest names in music history found ways to deliver new thrills for their fans. Several invited former bandmates back for special appearances, and many trotted out rarely heard songs. A couple of particularly generous legends squeezed themselves into intimate venues they’ve long since outgrown saleswise, and one even built themselves a giant mechanical monster — all in a quest to make you forget you still had to go back to work the next day. So here they are: the Best Rock Tours of 2013:
There’s a lot of great bands that could have earned this spot on our Best Rock Tours of 2013 instead of Kiss, who, after all, played relatively few shows in the U.S. this year. But did any of them add a gigantic, movable, fire-breathing spider to their stage set? No? OK then — case closed!
Ted Nugent / Styx / REO Speedwagon
Apparently this trio of ’70s classic-rock titans from the heartland of America had so much fun on their 2012 tour together that they decided to do it all over again this year. That’s it — no gimmicks, no themes, not really even any new records to promote. In other words, a perfect night out!
While Jimmy Page sat anxiously by the phone, his ever-restless former bandmate hit the road with his umpteenth new band. This time out, Plant retooled his Strange Sensations group from the ‘Mighty Rearranger’ and ‘Dreamland’ albums. This allowed him to add new African influences to another well-chosen selection of solo tracks, Led Zeppelin classics and cover songs.
Never afraid to fix something that’s only broken in his eyes, Petty eschewed the easy money of another by-the-numbers “greatest hits” tour in favor of a set list that explored lesser-known numbers from his vast catalog. Lucky fans in New York and L.A. also got to enjoy multiple-night stands in smaller venues — well, except for the night the fire marshal shut the joint down.
Hard to believe It’s been more than two years since Black Sabbath made their big reunion announcement. For a while there, it looked like the whole thing would be a nonstarter, between Bill Ward’s boycott and Tony Iommi’s lymphoma diagnosis. Luckily, Iommi kicked cancer’s ass, the group made a pretty damn good new album and the promotional trek that followed was easily worthy of a spot on our Best Rock Tours of 2013 list.
Do we really have to justify this one? Is there anybody who went to one of these shows that didn’t enjoy seeing the former Beatle play nearly 40 of the best songs in rock history with an incredibly tight and talented band? Or who wouldn’t trade anything short of a family member for the opportunity to do so?
Brian Wilson / Jeff Beck
This may seem like an unlikely pairing at first, until you realize the trait these two music icons have in common: the near-fanatical pursuit of the perfect sounds they hear in their heads. Really, it’s a miracle they ever made it past sound check on any given night. But they did, not only performing fantastic sets separately but also joining forces for several songs, including Beach Boys classics like ‘Our Prayer.’
Just like Sammy Hagar (See No. 9 on our Best Rock Tours of 2013 list), the Eagles more or less arranged the set list for their current tour chronologically. Also much like Hagar, they invited a former bandmate back into the fold — in this case, guitarist Bernie Leadon. Makes you wish they’d taken it a step further and ripped through ‘I Can’t Drive 55‘ just one time, doesn’t it?
Age ain’t nothing but a number, and after five straight decades together, the Rolling Stones were still the hottest (and yes, probably most expensive) ticket in the land this summer. The group made headlines at just about every show. To mark their big anniversary, they welcomed Mick Taylor and Bill Wyman back to the stage, dug out some rarely heard songs and invited a gaggle of guest stars from all across the musical spectrum to join in as well.