Updated: The story was updated Feb. 28 with the first wave of Moogfest acts.
Spring is when the planet begins stirring back to life after the long winter, which goes for perennial plants, baseball spring training — and the concert industry, too.
Not that all this spring’s concert action will be outdoors, however. PNC Arena, which has had a very busy winter, still has some of the season’s most attention-getting high-profile shows. A fair number of them involve acts saying farewell for the last time.
Elton John, the legendary British piano man who has scaled just about every peak there is to scale in the popular-music universe, is on a mammoth tour dubbed “Farewell Yellow Brick Road.” Consisting of 300 dates spread out over three years, it runs to the end of 2020. The Raleigh date is March 12 at PNC Arena, less than two weeks before he’ll turn 72 years old.
Also coming to PNC on a last-time-around victory lap is KISS on their “End of the Road” tour. The theatrically inclined pop-metal group is calling it quits after 45 years, including an April 6 date in Raleigh. Of course, it wouldn’t be KISS without drama. Guitarist Ace Frehley, who is not part of this tour’s lineup, has taken to social media to demand “my old job back.”
While it’s not billed as such, there is every chance that Paul McCartney’s “Freshen Up” tour will be his last major live-concert undertaking. Beatle Paul turns 77 this year, so it’s hard to say how many globe-trotting excursions he still has in him. McCartney is also at PNC, on May 27, one of the tour’s first U.S. dates. Tickets are trading for some high prices on the broker sites.
Pencil in April 13 on your calendar, because that’s when outdoor-music season will kick off in earnest. As of now, that looks to be opening day for two of Raleigh’s biggest outdoor venues.
Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek will bow on that date with Zac Brown Band, the Atlanta country-rock group on one of the final dates of this spring’s “Down The Rabbit Hole Live” tour (to be followed by this summer’s “The Owl Tour”). Walnut Creek’s other notable early-season show is Hootie & the Blowfish’s big reunion, the “Group Therapy” tour, on May 31. Hootie also has a new album on the way, their first since 2005.
Downtown Raleigh’s Red Hat Amphitheater also opens 2019 on April 13, with Death Cab For Cutie. The tour finds Ben Gibbard and company still pushing their latest album “Thank You For Today,” released last August. Other key early-season shows at Red Hat include Rainbow Kitten Surprise on April 27, deejay/producer GRiZ on May 4 and Greta Van Fleet on May 16.
April will be a busy month on the music-festival front, too, starting with Fayetteville rapper J. Cole’s inaugural Dreamville Festival. Originally scheduled for last Sept. 15 at Raleigh’s Dix Park, the show had to be postponed due to Hurricane Florence.
Dreamville’s new date is April 6, and it has been repurposed as a hurricane-relief benefit show. The new lineup has yet to be announced, but the original lineup included SZA, Big Sean, Young Thug, Nelly and Rapsody in addition to Cole himself.
Also coming in April is Moogfest in Durham, in a new earlier time slot. Moogfest happened in May the previous three years, but this year falls on April 25-28. The first wave of acts announced so far include Depeche Mode’s Martin Gore, GAS, Kimbra, Raleigh-born rapper and producer Mez, William Basinski, Stephan Bodzin, Matthew Dear, A Place to Bury Strangers, The Field and US Girls.
It’s looking like Cary’s Koka Booth Amphitheatre will start a bit later than Red Hat or Walnut Creek. The earliest show on the schedule at press time is Australian singer-songwriter-one-person-band Tash Sultana on May 4. An “Outlaws & Renegades” show with Travis Tritt and Wilmington native Charlie Daniels is also on tap for May 30.
Durham Performing Arts Center has some notable acts coming this spring, too: British singer-songwriter James Bay on March 5, hotshot guitarist Joe Bonamassa on March 18, the legendary Jackson Browne on March 22 and Texas guitarist Gary Clark Jr. on April 2.