Rock, country, blues, pop and all their variations could be found in Utah in 2010 as the state had another great year for live music despite an overall down year for concerts nationwide.
United Concerts and the USANA Amphitheatre delivered one of their biggest summer concert seasons ever. The State Room in Salt Lake City continued to build it’s growing reputation as a fabulous small venue for concerts. The amphitheaters at Red Butte Gardens and Deer Valley Resort, meanwhile, continued their reign as two of the best places to experience a concert on a summer night in Utah, no matter who’s playing.
I didn’t see every concert that came through Utah in 2010. So if you have your own selections for the best shows in Utah this year, feel free to list them.
In mostly no particular order, here are my picks for the best concerts of 2010 in Utah:
Concert of the year: Rush
Rush returned to USANA on Aug. 5 and delivered a show with an energy and a musicianship that bands half their age can’t match. There was no opening act and the band still had to hustle to finish their long set before the USANA curfew. Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart played songs from every era of their 30-year career and thrilled fans by playing their landmark Moving Pictures album in its entirety for the first time. These guys played with such a high level of enthusiasm, energy and musical prowess that one would swear they were still in their late ’30s rather than late ’50s. A thoroughly entertaining show and the best concert of the year in Utah.
For many, this was probably their concert of the year in Utah. Speaking of legendary rockers who seem to have been drinking from the fountain of youth, the 68-year-old McCartney played nearly 40-songs before a sold out Rio Tinto Stadium on July 13. The set list, particularly The Beatles’ era material, read like a greatest hits package of some of the most legendary songs ever written. The show also marked the youthful Sir Paul’s first ever Utah concert.
Billy Joel/Elton John
Always a favorite in Utah, the Piano Man and Captain Fantastic returned to Energy Solutions Arena with their Face 2 Face Tour in February to deliver their own greatest hits ensemble.
Dave Matthews Band
The third time was the charm. DMB finally made it back to Utah, and all was right in the world of Dave Matthews fans again.
Zac Brown Band
It was ZBB’s first appearance in Utah, and it almost didn’t happen as bad weather in March nearly left them stranded in Colorado. The band made it at the very last minute however, and showed why they’re one of the hottest genre-crossing bands today. And this was before their excellent album “You Get What You Give” was released, meaning it’s about time for a return engagement.
Cross Canadian Ragweed
No one knew it at the time, but this show at The State Room on Jan. 11 would mark the band’s last Utah performance. Ragweed went on an indefinite hiatus a few months ago. But if this was their last ever show, at least they went out in style in Utah. The sold out show seemed to energize lead singer/guitarist Cody Canada who saved his best Beehive State performance for last.
Brad Paisley/Darius Rucker
A great country double bill to begin with, Paisley brought his typical elaborate stage show and highly likable personality to USANA on Sept. 24, mixing his witty upbeat songs with fast guitar licks. Hootie and the Blowfish frontman Rucker showed off his country roots with a set that mixed his new found country success and his multi-platinum Hootie days.
The red hot country trio made three visits to Utah in 2010, but only on Nov. 2 at The Rail Event Center did they get to put on a full blown headline show. The sold out crowd was more than pleased with the performance, and the band also seemed to enjoy the energy of the evening as lead singer Charles Kelley kept encouraging his bandmates to play more cover songs well after their regular set list had ended.
Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers
Ok, I admit I might be slightly biased on this one. But the band that always gives 110% on stage whenever they play Salt Lake or Park City, played what could likely be put in their top three or top two Utah performances of all time at The State Room in November. How many bands play two hours of rock, take requests from the audience because they want to play longer, and then go outside and shake hands with everyone after the show is over?! Class acts and great music.
Other shows of note in 2010: