Recommended if You Like: Boots, big hats, and cold Bud
The Poets & Pirates Tour
Superstar Kenny Chesney headlines the Poets & Pirates tour, an all-star affair that's the only concert slated for Browns Stadium this year. At a mere 24, LeAnn Rimes has sold nearly 40 million records since she burst into the spotlight with the traditional-leaning smash "Blue." She's been in the spotlight since she was 13, and all those years of experience are on display in her live show, which now pulses with her newer high-energy material. Technically, Keith Urban is the most southern boy on the show — he was born in New Zealand. The big bill is rounded out by Brooks & Dunn, Big & Rich, and red rocker Sammy Hagar. Despite Hagar's previous statements, apparently there's more than one way to rock. Saturday, May 24, at Browns Stadium, 216-241-5555, www.ticketmaster.com. 3:30 p.m., $20.00-$99.50.
Tim McGraw/Jason Aldean/Halfway to Hazard:
McGraw now has an even bigger crossover crowd than Chesney and his crew. The Louisiana-bred singer recently became the first country artist to top both Billboard's classic-rock chart and active-rock chart, with "Nine Lives," a Def Leppard song that he co-wrote. It wasn't his biggest musical surprise; in 2005, his collaboration with Nelly, "Over and Over," topped the charts for three months. The last time he came through town was with wife Faith Hill on his Soul2Soul tour, which was the highest-grossing country tour in history. Wednesday, July 2, at Blossom Music Center. 7:30 p.m., $33.50-$63.50 (LiveNation.com or Ticketmaster).
Recommended if You Like: Fist-pumpin' fury and big, bright, loud lights
After 30 years and counting, metal gods Iron Maiden now have not two but three guitarists. For the Somewhere Back in Time Tour, the band concentrates on material from the 1980s, an eye-popping set that will recreate the ancient Egyptian spectacle of the legendary Powerslave tour. They'll also incorporate elements from the 1986 Somewhere in Time show, including a giant moving puppet that lets skeletal mascot Eddie spring into larger-than-life action. Thursday, June 12, at Blossom. 7:00 p.m., $20 lawn/$59 lawn four-packs/seats $35-$69.50/$69.50 general-admission pit tickets (LiveNation.com or Ticketmaster)
Nine Inch Nails/Does It Offend You, Yeah?
Nine Inch Nails mainman Trent Reznor learned how to put on an unforgettable show when his band was wrecking clubs like the Odeon and Phantasy in the late '80s. Over the years, he's buffed up and slowed down just a little, but NIN shows are still an event to remember, filled with seizure-inducing lights, broken keyboards, and guitars brandished with musical menace. T-Rez puts his money where his mouth is: He's so confident in his drawing power that he's giving away his newest record. Friday, August 22, at Quicken Loans Arena. $36.50-$56.50 (LiveNation.com or Ticketmaster).
Recommended if You Like: "Freebird"
Not for nothing do some still say "Clapton is God." On this tour, the iconic guitarist-singer is backed by an ace sextet for a set that's heavy on blues chestnuts ("Hoochie Coochie Man," "Traveling Riverside Blues," and "I've Got My Mojo Working," to name a few). But fear not: Once you've sat through a few standards, Slowhand will break out solo classics including "Cocaine" and "Wonderful Tonight." Clapton has been throwing in newer covers such as Hendrix's "Little Wing," but the tune that's been getting the most raves is a version of "Layla," complete with a performance of a piano coda that'll send you home with goose bumps. Saturday, May 31, 7:30 p.m., Blossom. $35-$125 (Ticketmaster or LiveNation.com).
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers/Steve Winwood
Few moments in live music compare to Petty leaning back from his microphone and letting the crowd sing the first verse of "Breakdown" — and that dependable hair-raiser pales compared to the jolt that goes through the audience when the Heartbreakers let loose the shimmering opening chords of "American Girl." Sunday, June 22, 7:30 p.m., Blossom. $29.50-$95 (LiveNation.com or Ticketmaster).
Recommendedif You Like: 'MMS and K-Rock
3 Doors Down/Staind/Hinder
3 Doors Down is the kind of band that rock critics live to trash and fans live to listen to. Spurred by the undying single "Kryptonite," its 2000 debut album, The Better Life, sold six million copies. Its follow-up, Away From the Sun, moved another five million on the strength of the power ballad "Here Without You." The band's on the road supporting its new self-titled disc, and you may have heard its "Citizen/Soldier" in National Guard recruiting ads. If modern rock radio stops playing the same 10 songs, the terrorists win, bro. Friday, July 11, 6:30 p.m. at Blossom. $29-$69/four-pack lawn tickets $19 (LiveNation.com or Ticketmaster).
Seether and Flyleaf are both quasi-Christian bands. That is, Jesus is in their hearts, but not their lyrics. Representing South Africa, Seether's signed to the ginormous, quasi-indie rock label Wind-up Records, the powerhouse that brought the world Creed, Evanescence, and Finger Eleven. The band deals in empty poetics, as in the vaguely profound conundrums of album title Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces. And neo-grunge tunes like "Rise Above This" resonate with vague non-poetry like "Rise above this hate . . . Regrets are better left unspoken . . . For all we know/This void will grow." Frontman Shaun Morgan's carefully raspy voice sounds like a faded copy of Chris Daughtry (who sounds like that guy from Nickelback). Sunday, May 25, at Marc's Great American Rib Cook-Off and Music Festival, Time Warner Cable Amphitheater at Tower City. $7 adult/free, kids 12 and under (Ticketmaster or LiveNation.com).
Recommended if You Like: Alternative Press and Hot Topic
Vans Warped Tour
In an unpredictable concert market, Vans' traveling punk-rock road show is one of the few reliable sellout events every summer. Socially and musically, anybody who's anybody, anybody who was somebody, and, likely, anybody who will be anybody over the next two years will be at the Warped Tour. Canton Christian pop-punk band Relient K is playing most of the tour. And if punk, metal, and hardcore aren't your thing, here are three acts to look for: Representing the mean streets of suburban Denver, alt-crunk duo 3OH!3 puts on a live show that'll have you jumping like a hungry pit bull at the end of its chain. And get there early to catch rap-rock underdogs the Lordz, as seen on the Fuse reality series The Brooklyn Way. Charlotte Sometimes shares her name with a Cure song, but the theatrically inclined singer-songwriter leads a band that sounds like it's destined for the Grey's Anatomy soundtrack. No show gets you more bands for your buck. Thursday, July 17, at Time Warner Cable Amphitheater at Tower City. General admission tickets $37.25 via Ticketmaster and LiveNation.com.
Death Cab for Cutie/Rogue Wave
One reason Seattle's Death Cab For Cutie became an indie-rock godhead is that the band's members are so clearly comfortable in their own skins (and sweaters and thick black glasses). They play literate, nerdy, slightly fey pop, and they do it well. So guitarist Chris Walla sounded like he was making a wry joke when he told Pitchfork that the band's long-time-coming new album, Narrow Stairs, was "weird," "spectacular," and "creepy," with "lots of blood." But then its leadoff single, "I Will Possess Your Heart," dropped, and the seven-minute jam grooved on a hypnotic bass line and twinkling piano tones for damn near five minutes before singer Ben Gibbard uttered a single warbly word. And now the brainy shoegazers are poised to find a new audience with the Coldplay-Maroon 5 crowd . . . or, as Stereogum suggested, maybe even Phish phans. Which isn't to say they won't save their last hit, the sprightly "Crooked Teeth," for a big encore. Friday, June 13, 8 p.m., Plain Dealer Pavilion at Nautica. $32.50 (LiveNation.com or Ticketmaster).
Recommended if You Like: Feelin' mellow
John Mayer/Colbie Caillat/Brett Dennen
Rolling Stone has declared singer-songwriter John Mayer one of the new generation of guitar gods, comparing his understated style to Eric Clapton. And we're still laughing about Mayer's Chappelle's Show appearance, during which he helped demonstrate how guitar music makes white people want to fight. Granted, those two career highlights have not a thing to do with his breezy adult-contemporary smash hits, like last year's "Say" and 2006's "Waiting on the World to Change," both of which are probably playing on 91.3-FM the Summit as we type. Thursday, July 17, at Blossom Music Center. 7 p.m., $30-$55/four-pack lawn tickets $99 (LiveNation.com or Ticketmaster).
Jack Johnson/Mason Jennings/Money Mark
Listening to Hawaiian-born singer-songwriter Jack Johnson is a swell way to bring a little taste of the beach into your life. His new album, the aptly titled Sleep Through the Static, finds him branching beyond the sandy-dude-with-a-guitar thing (but not too much). "Hope" has a happy organ that gives a glimmer of a reggae skank. Mellow to the max, "All at Once" adds wistful piano under the unplugged plunking while he gently exhales feel-good musings like "There's a world we've never seen/There's still hope between the dreams/The weight of it all could blow away with a breeze." He scored that Curious George movie a couple of years back, but while his tunes are safe for family listening, if you take the kids to the show, have an explanation ready for that funky herb smell. Tuesday, June 17, 7 p.m. at Blossom. $24-$39 (Ticketmaster or LiveNation.com).