Columbus music scene thrives, with many big-name performers

Columbus music scene thrives, with many big-name performers

Guitarist and songwriter Pete Townshend performs with The Who on Oct. 9 at the Schottenstein Center.

The year in concerts saw a variety of performers representing a spectrum of genres. From indie to oldies, country to classic, rock to R&B and everything in between there was something for music lovers of all stripes.

The concert lineup for 2022 included tour stops by pop icon Elton John, classic rockers The Eagles, Joe Walsh and The Who, country queen Reba McEntire, Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli, and many other world-famous acts, as well as those known locally, regionally and nationally.

More music:Zac Brown Band to kick off ‘From the Fire Tour’ at Nationwide Arena in June

The Dispatch asked its concert reviewers — Margaret Quamme, Curtis Schieber and Lynn Green — to take a look back at the live shows they had attended in 2022 and render their opinions on the best of the bunch. Below are their favorites.

Margaret Quamme’s picks

Dua Lipa performs during a concert at the Schottenstein Center on Feb. 26.

Dua Lipa, Feb. 26, Schottenstein Center

Performing 90 minutes of danceworthy music, the singer-songwriter bounced, strutted, jumped, skipped and kicked across two stages connected by a long runway, appearing thoroughly comfortable and at ease. Her “Future Nostalgia” tour, based largely on the 2020 album of the same name that has produced hit after hit and for which she won a Grammy for best pop vocal album, kept the focus on the songs from that album, with just a few detours into songs from her earlier work. Both the music and the visuals playfully harkened back to the ’80s, with a nod to that era’s shiny, iridescent vision of the future.

Tyler, The Creator performs at the Schottenstein Center on Feb. 27.

Tyler, The Creator, Feb. 27, Schottenstein Center

The unsettling, intense and generally astonishing concert pulled the audience in the packed arena between a slickly polished surface and the roiling emotions and human malfunctions underneath. Navigating an allergic reaction, looking a little sweaty and occasionally hoarse, he fed on the enthusiasm of the audience as, in a special effects-heavy show involving a two-story mansion, a rocking boat and a beach grass strewn island, he ranged through 11 remarkably varied years of music, returning to his raw roots.

Keith Urban smiles while performing during a concert in September at Nationwide Arena.

Keith Urban, Sept. 23, Nationwide Arena

Urban thrives on live performance, and his exhilarating show, carefully crafted and unfussy, didn’t let special effects get in the way of music. Not one of those singers who uses a guitar primarily as a prop to provide musical bona fides, Urban treats the instrument as an extension of body and voice, not showboating but frequently throwing in a brief, sizzling solo. He uses country music as a home base, respecting its traditions, and then stretching and playing with it, as he performed with excellent backing musicians whom he gave plenty of time to soar.

More music:Def Leppard, Motley Crue bringing ‘The World Tour’ to Ohio Stadium on Aug. 8

Curtis Schieber’s picks

Tom Rush (opening for Janis Ian), May 18, Southern Theatre

Folkie Tom Rush opened a magical night of music-making, at 81 confirming he is a national treasure still. Singing the songs of several of the songwriters he brought to national attention first, including Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne and James Taylor, and a few of his own, he delivered a set that will ring in this writer’s ear for years to come. His performance combined the nobility of his age and the skill learned from 60-plus years on stage, with a passion for song that lit the Southern. Ian’s set followed suit and the two ended the evening with an incandescent duet on the latter’s “Better Times Will Come.”

Kevin Parker of Tame Impala, whose May 26 show at Kemba Live drew more than 10,000 rain-soaked fans.

Tame Impala, May 26, Kemba Live

It is difficult to imagine many other bands that could conjure as much sunny optimism under such challenging circumstances as Tame Impala had done for 10,000-plus soaked fans who had waited through five hours of rain in a parking lot concert venue. For 90 minutes, the drenched crowd danced as gleefully as if it were frugging on a sunny California beach. The pop and rave grooves of Impala’s newest album, “Slow Rush,” and its deep psychedelic back catalog inspired a euphoria that contradicted the dark storm that accompanied the entire set.

!!! (yes, that’s the band’s name) brought 70 minutes of “smart and stupid fun” to Rumba Cafe in June.

∙ !!! (chk chk chk), June 18, Rumba Café

“This is pop and there’s no defense/Silly, it’s stupid, it’s just pretend/Comes in waves, it’s got nothing to say/And if you ask me, it’s better that way.” This quote from !!!’s song “This Is Pop” puts it all into words for the New York band but it comes nowhere close to describing the experience of watching the motley crew put it into practice. During 70 minutes of sheer mayhem, the group turned Chic’s funk, ‘70s disco and ‘80s avant-punk into a potent political commentary on personal hang-ups and a humorless social climate. In short, it was both smart and stupid fun.

∙ Spoon (opening for Interpol), Aug. 30, Kemba Live

The concert season offered a textbook lesson on matching opener to headliner, when Spoon’s cheeky, smart and explosive pop introduced Interpol’s ponderous, bombastic drama in Kemba Live. A seemingly ideal balance of opposites, the billing was simply upside down. A newly injected love of funk gave Spoon’s set an expansiveness that Interpol’s monotone simply couldn’t match. And lead singer Britt Daniel’s brilliant, self-effacing songs were at times comical and at others emotionally baring. In fact, Spoon’s extended set could have satisfyingly filled the evening by itself.

More music:Shania Twain to bring ‘Queen of Me’ tour to Columbus’ Value City Arena on Oct. 27

Lynn Green’s picks

Taylor Meier, lead singer for Caamp and a former Worthington resident, seemed happy to be home during a performance Oct. 21 at Nationwide Arena.

∙ Caamp, Oct. 21, Nationwide Arena

Caamp’s Lavender Days tour brought a stage full of greenery, purple flowers, pastel instruments, cowhide rugs and strings of fairy lights. This, plus the band’s lavender suits, hinted at a touch of sentimentality, but the band delivered no such thing. Instead, Caamp delivered brash confidence, along with a substantial repertoire of songs from both “Lavender Days” and its earlier albums. Whether Meier is singing about colorful characters, shadowy introspection, running away to a new life or a tender and sincere romance, his lyrics are forthright and honest. The band, as a whole, steers clear of cloying sentimentality and approaches even the deepest and most conflicting of emotions with a dose of good old Midwest resilience. Meier’s raspy vocals add both a gritty charm and a wholesome realness.

∙ The Who, Oct. 9, Schottenstein Center

The infamous theatrics have toned down, as has the volume, but the defiant spirit is still there, and the music still speaks for itself. This is a band of guys who need to prove nothing more and can simply enjoy doing what they do best: being musicians. The band has grown up over the decades, and so have the songs, and that change isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Pete Townshend’s technique remains masterful and expressive. “I’m One” was beautifully packaged, the counterpoint of his vocals and guitar perfectly honed. Roger Daltrey’s singing is eerily unchanged from decades ago, still full of subtle control and a range of inflection that other singers struggle to master.

Reba McEntire performs on Dec, 2 at Nationwide Arena.

∙ Reba McEntire, Dec. 2, Nationwide Arena

Reba cruised through many of her biggest hits, often in small, thematic packages, keeping the energy flowing. There’s never a dull moment when she commands the stage. Whether it’s the spunk of “Little Rock,” the poignancy of “The Greatest Man I Never Knew” or the sass of her latest No. 1 hit, “Turn On the Radio,” she captures some of the deepest and most conflicted emotions adulthood has to offer. Her sparkle hasn’t dimmed a bit over the decades. She’s a bastion of resilience, the queen of broken hearts, and she continues to dance in the ashes of failed relationships. She’s as beloved today as she was 45 years ago.

This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Year in review: Big music stars came to Columbus in 2022