Sunday, January 11, 2015

50 and Counting, the Stones to Roll and Dead to be Grateful again in 2015

The next week may see announcements of two big-time appearances by bands that are part of rock history.

Stones in Vegas, NYC, and London?
The Rolling Stones' 50 and counting tour will roll on in 2015, and likely return to the U.S. South America was to be up first this Spring, but that has been deferred to the Fall, we believe to allow for a brief visit to North America. 

What's the play in the USA for this big(gest)-name band? We think it may be Rock in Rio in Las Vegas this May. While we cannot confirm that a contract has been signed, it is our understanding that the Stones have been in talks with the festival's big-spending promoters, and we would not be surprised if their appearance at the already big-name festival gets announced some time this week. We think they would open the festival's "rock" weekend on May 8th, or maybe close its "pop" one on May 16th.

If the Stones do return stateside, we also expect several arena shows in New York City and possibly another location or two, in either the Spring or the early Fall. If the former, we could see the band make a return to the historic Ed Sullivan Theater during David Letterman's final days on the air. 

As for other American festivals, those are less likely - don't expect the Stones at Bonnaroo (about which we'll have more to say later in the next day or so), while a side or guest appearance is likelier than a headlining slot at Jazz Fest in New Orleans. We do, however, expect the Stones to return to London's Hyde Park this Summer with an appearance at the British Summer Time festival there, and additional European shows may include a visit to Wembley Stadium. 

The Dead to Soldier on and Lock in Again
2015 also brings the 50th anniversary of what may be America's greatest rock band, the Grateful Dead. They too will reunite this year, under their own name for the first time in 20 years, we believe. While Jerry Garcia cannot be replaced, a rotating cast of like-minded guitarists including former Jefferson Airplane member Jorma Kaukonen, former Allman Brother Warren Haynes, and Trey Anastasio of Phish will attempt to evoke his spirit. Sometime Dead member Bruce Hornsby will return at keyboards as well. 

As with the Stones, don't expect a full-scale tour, but rather a small number of appearances at select venues. First up appears to be a July 4th weekend stand featuring Anastasio and possibly other guitarists at Soldier Field in Chicago, site of the final Grateful Dead concert in 1995. We expect an announcement of those three concerts this week.

Soldier Field is likely to be the biggest or even only reunion appearance by the band this Summer, but we don't rule out an additional stop or two at a smaller outdoor amphitheater like the iconic Red Rocks in Colorado. At least one festival appearance is likely as well, but the jam-band festival Lockn', which drew 30,000 to central Virginia in September 2014, looks a bit likelier than a major festival like Bonnaroo (though we don't rule out an appearance there too), which has broadened well beyond its jam-band roots. Lockn's promoters would like to draw Phish as well, but we think that's unlikely, as Phish will host its own "festival" (with no other acts) this August (21-23) at Watkins Glen International Raceway, where it previously drew 35,000 in 2011. 

There will certainly also be a Dead appearance in their native Bay Area some time this year. Top billing at the Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival in August is possible, but likelier is a residency later in the year at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, named for the band's famous late promoter, possibly after a summer gig at the Bay Area's Shoreline Amphitheater. We also expect appearances in the Dead's second home of New York City, probably at Madison Square Garden this Fall. 

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