Here are the Top 10 concerts, in order, that I'm looking forward to seeing this summer:
1) Jane's Addiction with Mutemath
Aug. 20, Artpark Mainstage, Lewiston.
Tickets: $47.50 reserved seating, $32.50 general admission lawn.
With an uber-strong new album, "The Great Escape Artist," in tow, the mightiest of the original wave of West Coast alternative band's makes its Artpark debut. I caught this show in Rochester a few months back, and it was unbelievable. Not to be missed.
2) The Cult with Against Me and the Icarus Line
Thursday Thursday at The Harbor.
What a way to kick off the free Thursday series at the Erie Canal Harbor Central Wharf. With singer Ian Astbury and guitarist Billy Duffy leading the way, the Cult remains in fine form, and has just released one of the strongest records of its career in the form of "Choice of Weapon." And it's free!
3) Ziggy Marley
June 20, Artpark.
The heir apparent of the Marley family legacy, Ziggy Marley turned in a sublime performance at the Town Ballroom last year. Taking this show outside to the Lewiston gorge will only heighten the impact of this most glorious reggae. Adding our own Aqueous to the bill makes this one of the summer's finest.
4) Roger Waters: The Wall Live
June 21, First Niagara Center.
OK, this one has been on the docket for, what, a year now? And it's an indoor gig to boot. But leaving Waters' "The Wall" off the best-of list would keep me awake at night. If you caught the show the first time around, you understand.
5) Iron Maiden with Alice Cooper
July 16, Darien Lake Performing Arts Center.
Tickets: $95 general admission orchestra pit, $39.50-$95 reserved seats and $28 general admission lawn.
Far and away the finest heavy metal show coming to Western New York this summer. The mighty Iron Maiden will be in the midst of its "Maiden England" tour, which means a healthy dose of the classic "Seventh Son of A Seventh Son" album. Cooper opening only adds fuel to the blaze.
6) The Allman Brothers Band and Santana
July 22, Darien Lake P.A.C.
Tickets: $45-$95 reserved and $29.50 general admission lawn.
Guitarmageddon! Playing with the Allman Brothers should give Carlos Santana a sense of healthy competition. I expect fireworks.
7) Dream Theater with the Crimson Projekct
June 17, Artpark Mainstage.
Tickets: $60 orchestra pit and $39 reserved seating.
This one is mostly about the opening act for me. The Crimson Projekct -- Adrian Belew, Tony Levin, Pat Mastelotto, et al, performing a program of King Crimson music -- is bound to put on a show representative of the loftiest heights attainable by a prog-rock outfit. Of course, Dream Theater's legion of devotees might rightly point out that their heroes now carry the torch first lit by Crimson. No argument there. This one will be all fire and finesse.
June 20, Rivera Theatre, 67 Webster St., North Tonawanda.
Tickets: $35.50-$42.50 reserved seating.
Puscifer is the "side project" of Tool vocalist Maynard James Keenan, but it's so much more than that, too -- the band's daring blend of light and shade, rock instrumentation and electronica, and hyper-intelligent, irreverent lyrics makes it a modern rock anomaly. There are very few dates on the band's summer tour, and we are very lucky to have one of them in Western New York.
9) The J Geils Band
Aug. 31, Buffalo Place Rocks the Harbor.
Tickets: $10 advance, $20 day of show.
This will be the dance party of the year. A major score for the Rocks the Harbor crew, and for all of us, too!
10) The Tea Party
Aug. 31, Labatt Blue Canal Concert Series, Ulrich City Centre, Lockport.
The band offered its first Western New York performance in more than five years at this same venue last summer. The reformed trio still has the goods, big time. Dramatic, powerful, and still exotic.
The playing field is incredibly crowded this summer, concert-wise, and narrowing it down to a list of the 10 best inevitably leaves out a few worthy contenders. Yes and Procal Harum, July 17 at Artpark; Talas reforming on Old Falls Street adjacent to the Hard Rock Cafe in Niagara Falls on July 28; and Buddy Guy with Johnny Lang, June 12 at the University at Buffalo's Center for the Arts, all fit that bill.