The winter concert scene’s got something for everybody, from Averi to Zakir Hussain. Okay, I couldn’t resist that bit of alphabetical hackery, but it’s true. Major rock, world-music, and country stars coming through the region include the Rolling Stones, Billy Joel, and Mötley Crüe, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and the Kronos Quartet, Brad Paisley and Brooks & Dunn. The clubs are offering buzz bands like Marah, alt-rock pioneers like Camper Van Beethoven and Guided by Voices’ Robert Pollard, and local MVPs like guitarist Chris Brokaw and freewheelers Sunburned Hand of the Man.
Notable by its absence is polka, but in Boston it’s St. Pat, not St. Casmir, who’s more revered. And one of the most irreverent respected traditions here is the annual Dropkick Murphys’ St. Patrick’s Day concert series at Avalon (15 Lansdowne St, Boston). This year they headline with a football-team-sized roster of guest openers March 15-19. Our home-town punk heroes have some serious competition for one of those nights, however, since the original Pogues — including Shane McGowan, who along with cockroaches will be the sole human survivor of the ultimate nuclear conflagration — are regrouping on Boston’s Orpheum Theatre (1 Hamilton Place) stage on March 14 and 15. Meanwhile, venerable Irish ensemble the Chieftains play their annual Bank of America Celebrity Series St. Paddy’s concert at Symphony Hall (301 Mass Ave, Boston) on March 11 (617.266.1200).
The week before, on the 8th, the only slightly less impervious Mötley Crüe, with at least three members who’ve been declared medically dead, continue to surprise by playing the godawfully named Dunkin’ Donuts Center (1 LaSalle Square) in Providence. Then again, is the TD Banknorth Garden (1 FleetCenter Place) that much better a moniker? I’ll hang here in my American Standard apartment and ponder that — at least until the Rolling Stones tumble into the house where Boston Garden once stood on January 13 and 15, with alt-rock survivors Sloan as their opener. Billy Joel will do his three-night stand there on January 19, January 30, and February 4.
If you’re hankerin’ for some big time country, you’re gonna have to head south. But only to the Mohegan Sun Arena (on Mohegan Sun Blvd) in Uncasville, Connecticut, where Brad Paisley and Sara Evans tip their wide-brimmed hats on February 10 and Brooks & Dunn sidle up two nights later. The casino/entertainment center will also host INXS, the Aussie funk-pop phoenixes who’re enjoying a shot in the arm from reality TV — the same bullet that killed television writing and wounded pop-culture literacy — on February 16. Coldplay are there on April 4, and you can hear them at Manchester’s Verizon Wireless Arena (where they better have damn good cell-phone reception) on April 3.
If you find INXS’s corporate-engineered rebirth as despicable as I do, you might prefer to take refuge in Boston’s Orpheum on February 7 or at the State Theater (see, those are real venue names) in Portland the night before and get lost in the warm sonic universe of Icelandic art-rockers Sigur Rós. Another reunion show takes place at the Somerville Theatre (55 Davis Square) on January 19. Chris Squire has regrouped with singer Steve Nardelli in the service of the Syn, the band the two shared in swinging ’60s London before Squire joined Yes and Nardelli went into the apparel business. They’ve also recorded their first album in 40 years, Syndestructible (Umbrello). And if that’s all too deep, there’s Ricky Martin at Boston’s Opera House (539 Washington St) on February 8.