The Best of the 2012 Summer Tours


There's plenty for fans of all kinds of pop and non-pop music to enjoy this summer. The Rolling Stones may not be joining us for an extended route, but the Beach Boys and Crosby, Stills and Nash will pick up that demographic, while Neil Diamond, Donald Fagen, Yanni, the Dave Matthews Band and Phish will make themselves available for public viewing as well. Roger Waters will build and tear down his Wall, while the Flaming Lips will appear at a variety of festivals and surely give the people what they never knew they wanted because it hadn't yet existed until Wayne Coyne imagined it.

Chicago and the Doobie Brothers will be playing their classic rock hits. The American Idols LIVE! Tour 2012 features mostly people only Lyndsey Parker is familiar with, since only Phillip Phillips won the whole shebang and Erika Van Pelt placed 10th. Kelly Clarkson, however, an American Idol even I've heard of, will be touring the States with the Fray. Jennifer Lopez and Enrique Iglesias will show off their hot selves for a series of shows. Country music fans can catch Toby Keith, Keith Urban and Kenny Chesney throughout the summer. What remains of the Jacksons will be out there throughout July. And Celine Dion will play Vegas.

But let's get to the ten best, shall we? How did I arrive at these? I used a special formula, tallied the input of thousands of respected music biz professionals and then I guessed!

10) Iron Maiden: Don't run to the hills when you have a chance to see these killers on tour. They'll be swinging upwards to Canada for part of the tour before landing on the left coast. With Bruce Dickinson leading the charge and Dave Murray, Adrian Smith and Janick Gers on guitars, Steve Harris on bass and Nicko McBrain on drums, you've got the line-up you need playing the songs you want. Billed as The Maiden England World Tour, they'll be playing songs from the 1989 video of the same name. Heavy Metal! Ask for it by name!

9) Kiss and Motley Crue:

Hard rock and loud guitars are determined to make a comeback in 2012 and nowhere better to get your fix of decibels and fireworks than from these two tried and true ensembles of seasoned rock veterans. Named simply "The Tour," there should be nothing simple about this assault on the senses. There's still no better way to get loud and stupid than with the kings of guilt-free hedonism. Ladies not looking to get pregnant should stay away from the backstage areas. These guys are contagious!

8) My Morning Jacket: The Black Keys are only playing a few select U.S. dates, but alt.rock's other leaders My Morning Jacket will be playing festivals and headlining shows with possible underliners, Band of Horses, Trombone Shorty and Trampled by Turtles all summer long. Surely, they'll bring enough reverb for everyone! Grow that beard and ponder your life under the stars!

7) B-52's (some shows with Squeeze):

You're never too old to party! And no one ever embodied a party better than the B-52s who've got an entire shelf of hits to bring audiences to full attention. Lucky folks who live in the "right towns" will also enjoy an entire set by Squeeze, whose Difford and Tilbrook were once considered to be the next Lennon and McCartney, but who turned out to be the first Difford and Tilbrook!

6) Beach House: Don't forget to see the Baltimore, Maryland dream-pop duo Beach House, which features a man and a woman for your viewing pleasure. The fourth and latest album, Bloom, establishes them as a duo riding a creative wave worth hearing. Wild Nothing, yet another dream pop outfit, run by Jack Tatum, will join them on most dates. Prepare yourselves to dream the night away!

5) Fiona Apple:

With a long-awaited new album that has more words in its title than we have space, Fiona Apple will prove she really missed us. Her shows are mostly in small enough clubs that you will actually feel like you are there and not just watching the show on a Jumbotron. Prepare to silently wonder if you should've kept up those piano lessons you had as a child. Careful, though, you don't want to step on anyone else's inner child when getting refreshments!

4) Def Leppard with Poison and Lita Ford: Since everyone apparently just loves the 1980s these days, what better way to experience the "golden era" than with time spent watching two of the most successful acts of the day and Lita Ford. So far, only one leg of the tour has been announced -- or at least that's what hopeful fans who don't live in the areas being covered are hoping. Watch studio perfectionists Def Leppard reproduce their sound on stage! Listen on the off-chance that someone in the band makes a, gulp, mistake! Watch Poison try to stand up straight!

3) Nicki Minaj:

Despite recent controversy over the Hot 97 Summer Jam where she canceled after one of the station's DJs insulted her for having a tune that was not "real hip-hop," Minaj is taking it to the U.S. by mid-July after giving merry ol' England their fill of her Sybil-based musical performances. (It's a good thing!). Her music may not be "real" to some, but last I checked you could still hear it with your own ears, so it must be there, no?

2) Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival -- Slipknot, Slayer, Motorhead, Anthrax: Anytime you can see Slayer and Motorhead in concert, you're guaranteed to lose a few notches off your hearing -- even with earplugs. The line-up for this festival changes quite a bit with the lower-flying bands slipping in and out of the darkness. When it comes to live music, you really can't go wrong with bands who cut their teeth and other parts of their body on playing live.

1) Aerosmith and Cheap Trick:

Dude looks like an old lady? Well, heck yeah! Steven Tyler is surely out to prove he's more than just some judge on a popular TV show and the band surely want to show him why he should stick with his evening job with the group that made him famous in the first place. However, the real secret to success here is having Cheap Trick pulling out the stops and showing the world why they should've been the band everyone's still talking about!