The end of February brings with it the promise of spring only three short weeks away. After a winter of ice, snow, and single-digit temperatures, warmer weather will be a welcomed change. Although temperatures may not yet be heating up, the area concert calendar certainly is. Big summer concerts by artists like Foo Fighters, Kid Rock, Dave Matthews Band, Motley Crue, Rush, Dierks Bentley, and Jimmy Buffett have been already been announced; many more will follow.
In the meantime, here’s a look at six area shows taking place over the next three weeks that are sure to heat up the late winter season.
Vanilla Fudge performs at the Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, Pa.) Thursday, February 26 at 8 p.m. – Vanilla fudge is considered one of the seminal bands that bridged the gap between psychedelic rock in the 1960s and the heavy metal sound of the 1970s. The band – lead vocalist and keyboard player Mark Stein, drummer and backing vocalist Carmine Appice, guitarist and backing vocalist Vince Martell, and bassist and backing vocalist Tim Bogert – remains best known for its hard-blues version of the Supremes hit, “You Keep Me Hangin’ On.” The original group recorded five studio albums between 1967 and 1969, then went on hiatus a year later.
Since then, the band has regrouped in various incarnations and has released three additional studio albums. The group, which now features original members Stein, Appice, and Martel joined by bassist Pete Bremy, (Bogert retired from touring in 2008) is embarking on an East Coast tour in support of its brand-new album, “Spirit of ’67,” which will be released March 3 on Purple Pyramid Records.
Ten of the eleven tracks on “Spirit of ’67” are cover versions of songs originally released in 1967, the year that produced the “Summer of Love” and the year that Vanilla Fudge was formed. Songs include “I Heard It Through The Grapevine,” “The Tracks Of My Tears,” “I’m A Believer,” and “The Letter.” The eleventh track on the album is an original song written by Stein entitled “Let’s Pray for Peace.”
Tickets for Vanilla Fudge at the Sellersville Theater are $33 and $45. For more information call (215) 257-5808.
Bush (with opening act Theory of a Deadman) performs at the Tower Theater (69th and Ludlow Streets, Upper Darby, Pa.), Sunday, March 1 at 7:30 p.m. – British rock band Bush (vocalist/guitarist Gavin Rossdale, guitarist Chris Traynor, bassist Corey Britz and drummer Robin Goodridge) is touring in support of its current album “Man On The Run,” which was released last fall. The album is the follow-up to 2011’s “The Sea Of Memories,” which was Bush’s first release in 10 years.
“I felt really energized off the last record and touring and the way it got received,” Rossdale said in an interview last year with Rolling Stone Magazine. “I knew it was important to keep it going and do another record to cement the return. We toured until last summer, then did a bit of writing. It was quite quick.”
Bush originally formed in London in 1992. The band’s debut album, 1994’s “Sixteen Stone” was a huge hit worldwide. In the United States, five of the album’s tracks – “Machinehead,” “Everything Zen,” “Comedown,” “Glycerine” and “Little Things” – charted as singles. Bush went on to become one of the most commercially successful rock bands of the 1990s. Over the course of its career, the group has sold close to 20 million records in the U.S. and Canada alone. They’ve also compiled an amazing string of 18 consecutive Top 40 hit singles on the Modern Rock and Mainstream Rock charts, with the latest being “The Only Way Out” from “Man On The Run.”
Maroon 5 (with opening acts Magic! and Rozzi Crane) performs at the Wells Fargo Center (3601 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, Pa.) Monday, March 9 at 7:30 p.m. – The band known as Maroon 5 (or, more accurately, “Adam Levine and five other guys”) has become one of the most popular pop-rock acts of our time. The group’s popularity is due to an impressive string of hit singles recorded over the course of five studio albums, as well as Levine’s seeming omnipresence on everything from magazine covers, to television’s “The Voice,” to commercials peddling pimple cream.
Maroon 5’s new album, “V,” has added the singles “Maps,” “Animals,” and “Sugar” to a list of over a dozen other hits that includes songs like “Moves like Jagger,” “One More Night,” and “Makes Me Wonder.”
The Church (with opening act The Sharp Things) performs at World Café Live (3025 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, Pa.) Tuesday, March 10 at 8 p.m. – Australian alternative rock act The Church only enjoyed one top-40 hit in the United States, and that was all the way back in 1988 with “Under the Milky Way.” The song was a big hit, both on alternative music radio stations and MTV.
The Church is no one-hit-wonder band, however. World-savvy music fans will tell you that the Sydney-based group has released over 20 studio albums and over 30 singles since forming in 1980. The group is still fronted by original members Steve Kilbey on lead vocals and bass, and Peter Koppes on guitar and backing vocals. They are joined by Ian Haug on guitar and backing vocals and Tim Powles on drums. The band is touring in support of its 25th studio album, “Further/Deeper,” which was released in North America at the beginning of February.
Ariana Grande (with opening acts Rixton and Cashmere Cat) performs at the Wells Fargo Center (3601 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, Pa.) Thursday, March 12 at 7:30 p.m. – With all the buzz that continually surrounds Ariana Grande, it’s easy to forget that in terms of a music career, she’s a relatively new artist. Grande began her professional career in several musical theater productions before landing her breakthrough role of Cat Valentine on the Nickelodeon television show “Victorious.”
Her first full-length album for Republic Records, “Yours Truly,” was released in 2013 and debuted at number one on the Billboard Top 200, Billboard Digital Albums Chart and iTunes Overall Albums Chart. It featured the pop smash “The Way” featuring Mac Miller. Grande was named “Best New Artist” at the American Music Awards in 2013. Grande’s second studio album, “My Everything” was released in 2014. Propelled by the hit singles “Problem,” “Break Free,” and “Love Me Harder,” it also reached number one in the United States.
ZZ Top (with opening act The Ben Miller Band) performs at the Electric Factory (421 North 7th Street, Philadelphia) Saturday, March 14 at 9 p.m. – ZZ Top is a blues-rock trio that formed in 1969 in Houston, Texas. It consists of Billy Gibbons (guitar), Dusty Hill (bass), and Frank Beard (drums), and is one of the few major label recording groups to have held the same lineup for more than forty years. The members of ZZ Top have been praised by critics and fellow musicians alike for their technical mastery.
The group’s musical style has changed over the years, beginning with blues-inspired rock on their early albums, then incorporating new wave, punk rock and dance-rock, with heavy use of synthesizers. One of the best-selling musical artists in history, the band has had global album sales in excess of 50 million. For stretch of several years in the mid-1980s ZZ Top was one of the most popular and best-selling groups in the world. The band’s 1983 album, “Eliminator,” remains the group’s most commercially successful record, selling over 10 million copies in the United States alone. It featured four hit singles – “Legs,” “Got Me under Pressure,” “Gimme All Your Lovin’,” and “Sharp Dressed Man” – all of which enjoyed tremendous popularity in video form on MTV. ZZ Top was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. The band’s most recent album, “La Futura” was released in 2012.