Bailey attended over six dozen shows in 2022
This was our biggest year at The Music Universe for concert coverage. Myself, along with site founder Buddy Iahn, saw over 100 concerts in 2022. Though, as Buddy readily admits on The Music Universe Podcast, I beat him far and away with more concerts — 73 to be exact. As we get ready to ring in the New Year, I’ve taken it upon myself to list my top 10 shows in 2022.
These are completely unscientific observations. But they are not solely based on the artist’s talent alone. This ranked list takes into account the full experience — the venue, the crowd, and the production of the show itself. And, it’s purely selfish. This list contains solely my own subjective sorting based on how the evening made me think, feel, and ultimately rock out!
10. John Mayer
A John Mayer show offers an interesting contradiction. The music is soft rock, but the fans scream louder than at a heavy metal concert. This made for a disjointed viewing/listening experience for me personally. But nonetheless, Mayer is one of the most talented guitarists working today. The screams may be over his movie star good looks, but the music has staying power all its own. I look forward to seeing him in summer 2023 on Dead & Co.’s Final Tour.
9. The Stadium Tour Featuring Mötley Crüe and Def Leppard with Poison and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
Individually, each band was incredible and in top form. As a bill all together, even as a day-long event, it felt rushed. Both headliners had to play under 90 minutes, and that meant that something was left out of each acts’ show. But all four are legendary groups that perform all-to-rarely. This is especially true for Poison, who are not expected to reunite again until 2025 according to frontman Bret Michaels. It was amazing to have these iconic bands in one spot.
Very few artists can fill 20,000 seats with a no-frills arena show. But George Strait can play it, well, straight, and still have the crowd in a frenzy. With a few stadium road dates with his buddy Chris Stapleton on the books for 2023, there has not been this much opportunity to see the King of Country live since he officially retired from touring. If there is a show coming your way, GO. His vocal performance is still in top form.
When anyone plays Vegas, they have a house advantage. Sitting down in a room for an extended period of time means the sound is so dialed in, there is almost a studio quality about the live mix. Such was the case with Miranda. The show itself had the Vegas sparkle, fire, and 8K-quality production needed to wow in Sin City. A solid showcase from a modern country icon.
It’s Metallica. Do I need to say more? James Hetfield’s voice is otherworldly. The band and their techs — the band famously don’t like to deal with pedals on stage, so effects are handled by crew — work in perfect harmony to deliver monstrous sound with four instruments. Metallica has announced their most extensive tour in years for 2023, and tickets are limited. There’s even an opportunity for superfans to see every show on the books for just $3,000.
5. Duran Duran
Unashamedly loud and fun, these newly-minted Rock and Roll Hall of Famers get turned up on stage. This was one of those rare performances where I went in nearly blind to their catalog, and emerged a fan. Simon LeBon has the best voice in all of rock and roll. Period.
Who knew this classy standards crooner was also…an unabashedly sarcastic and sassy dude who calls himself an “asshole” on stage? Michael Bublé wins the award for the best-produced tour of 2022. With an entire orchestra behind him, a pearl-white stage and band setup, the show was as elegant as you’d expect. Bublé is a charming and an alarmingly funny entertainer who sings exactly as he sounds on the records.
Diversity in country music is always a tough conversation. That conversation got tougher this year as a certain country star and his wife got into it with a certain John Mayer duet partner. But the actual diverse acts of country music always seem to rise above the fray. Such was the case with The War and Treaty. Their transcendent show at DC’s Sixth and I Synagogue proved their authentic music and personal life story are exactly what country music needs at this moment in history. At the end of the show they leaned over the stage to shake hands. I grabbed theirs and said, “Welcome to country music. We’ve needed you.” There will be plenty of opportunities to see them in 2023 as they embark on their first-ever headlining tour.
2. Garth Brooks
As an arena or stadium performer, Garth Brooks cannot — or, given his competitive nature, will not — be beat. His marathon Stadium Tour wrapped this year with five other-worldly concerts at Croke Park in Dublin, Ireland. To see Garth live is to see an entertainer become one with his people. I had the good fortune to catch 10 stadium tour shows this year. (Don’t ask how that happened.) And at every single one, Brooks made it special. Whether it was jeans and sweatshirt night for the under-10,000 smallest crowd on the tour in Foxborough, MA, or the rowdy sold out crowd in the enclosed Houston NRG Stadium for the final US date of the tour, there were memories to be made at each one. Every entertainer looks at this man and says, “I want to be Garth when I grow up.” I am a journalist and, hell, I still do.
If you’re still saying “Who?” when you see the name Warren Zeiders, I can guarantee that won’t be for long. In my rating of top shows (remember, not just the performer counts here) what Warren Zeiders did with just two guitarists (himself and one other) and a bare stage was nothing short of magical. The 300-seat Birchmere turned into the loudest 20,000 seat arena you have ever been inside. I will remember that night as long as I live. With an extensive touring line up and his first full year as a signed artist on the horizon, 2023 will be massive for Zeiders.
Honorable Mention 1: New Kids on the Block Mixtape Tour with Rick Astley, En Vogue, and Salt N’ Pepa
No, the music wasn’t live, so that disqualified it from my list. Boy band concerts mostly use tracks. However, what they lack in a live band, the crew more than made up for with energy and entertainment. I got to sing “Never Gonna Give You Up” with my mom. What could be better than that?!
Honorable Mention 2: Dropkick Murphys
The hardest working celts around. While I did not review the show on TMU, the band’s concert at Echostage had an entire gang of DCers moshing along to their greatest hits. A fun night.
Honorable Mention 3: Imagine Dragons
Another show I did not review for the site, but saw thanks to the invite of a friend. Dan Reynolds suffers from the same spinal disease that has seen Mötley Crüe’s Mick Mars retire for good. But to watch Reynolds bounce around the stage as the Dragons’ frontman, you would not know it. An excellent show with faithful live recreations of album favorites.