Summer concert preview: big shows are back as live music returns

Summer concert season cranks the volume after being quieted by COVID.

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

Summer music is back. 

After the year that dare not speak its name, venues are ready to plug back in, artists are ready to take the stage and fans are ready to let loose. 

Slipknot fans react to the music during the band's performance at DTE Energy Music Theatre.

We weren't sure when we'd get here, but we're here. Live music has been back in fits and spurts and now the summer amphitheater season is officially kicking off — better late than never, indeed — with Saturday's Jamey Johnson concert at Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre in Sterling Heights. 

From there, it's not quite back to business as usual, but it's a start. And things will be rolling along with several stadium shows at Comerica Park, while indoor arena concerts return to Little Caesars Arena in late August. 

Summer 2022 is already lining up to be a big one, and that's when things will fully roar back to the sort of summer concert seasons we're used to in southeastern Michigan. For now, here's a look at some of this season's top shows, all of which are a reason to get together and celebrate live music again. 

Welcome back, summer. 

Jamey Johnson, June 26, Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre: The country rocker hasn't released a new album in nearly a decade, and his biggest hit, "In Color," was released when George W. Bush was still president. But by sheer luck of the draw, Johnson happens to be headlining the area's first big amphitheater concert since COVID-19 shut down the live music industry, so it's one of the season's top shows by default. Let's rock.

Faster Horses, July 16-18, Michigan International Speedway: The Party of the Summer returns, and what timing: while other summer festivals took themselves off the schedule early, the three-day country music festival played the odds and came up a winner. The fest will be headlined by Luke Combs, Thomas Rhett and Jason Aldean, the same trio that was set to headline the 2020 fest before COVID shut it down, but the hard-partying country music fans are the real stars of this show. Yee-haw.

Fans cheer during the LoCash concert at the Faster Horses music festival  at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich.

Guns N' Roses, Aug. 8, Comerica Park: Welcome back to the jungle. Guns N' Roses kicked off its reunion outing at Ford Field back in 2016, and five years later the tour that some didn't expect to last a full week is still going strong. Expect to hear all the Guns N' Roses favorites, from "Paradise City" to "Sweet Child O' Mine," and a "Chinese Democracy" track or two as well. Mammoth WVH, featuring Wolfgang Van Halen, will open. 

Guns N' Roses kicks off its 2016 "Not In This Lifetime" tour at Ford Field in Detroit on Thursday, June 23, 2016.

Green Day, Fall Out Boy and Weezer, Aug. 10, Comerica Park: "Deeee-troiiiiiiiiit!" Expect Billie Joe Armstrong to shout out the Motor City early and often, as few rockers call out the name of their host city as frequently as the Green Day singer. This three-pronged attack is co-headlined by Fall Out Boy and Weezer, the latter of which has already released two albums this year. It is set to be a hit-packed night at the Tigers' ballpark.  

Green Day performs at Joe Louis Arena.

Deftones with Gojira and Poppy, Aug. 15, Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre: The alt-rock veterans have become hard-rock survivors: 26 years after its debut album "Adrenaline," Chino Moreno and the gang have kept a dedicated following by staying true to its slick sound and metal roots. Last year's "Ohms," the band's ninth studio set, reunited the group with "White Pony" producer (and Lansing native) Terry Date. 

Dead & Company, Sept. 10, DTE Energy Music Theatre: John Mayer's new album "Sob Rock" is due out next month, but he'll be on the road this summer with his side hustle, playing guitar in the current iteration of the Grateful Dead. The outfit has successfully carried on the Dead's legacy and brought the legendary band's music to a whole new generation of fans, and as soon as this show went on sale it quickly became one of the season's hottest tickets. No "Sob Rock" needed here. 

Dead & Company performs at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit on Friday night, Nov. 24.

Alanis Morissette with Garbage and Liz Phair, Sept. 12, DTE Energy Music Theatre: The "You Oughta Know" singer planned to celebrate the 25th anniversary of her smash album "Jagged Little Pill" on its actual 25th anniversary, but, you know, the world had other plans. No matter: the album has survived this long, so what's another 12 months? Garbage and Liz Phair round out this female-fronted mini-festival, one of the best '90s nights you'll have all summer. 

Alanis Morisette performs on stage at the Times Square New Year's Eve celebration on Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019, in New York.

Harry Styles, Sept. 20, Little Caesars Arena: Even in a year where you couldn't go anywhere, "Watermelon Sugar" still managed to be unavoidable. Harry Styles is now an even bigger star than he ever was before, and this is a guy who got plenty used to rocking stadiums during his days with One Direction. This was a tour that was announced early and looked like it would be rescheduled for 2022, but the timing has worked out in Styles' favor, and now we'll be singing "Watermelon Sugar" out loud, en masse, before you know it.

Harry Styles performing at LCA Tuesday night.

Alice Cooper, Sept. 25, DTE Energy Music Theatre: The Motor City rocker released his album "Detroit Stories" earlier this year, which he recorded in the area with a band made up of Detroit rock and rollers. This homecoming show is set to be a fun one: Cooper shows are always theatrical, over-the-top affairs, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer surely has a little something special in store for the hometown crowd. Ace Frehley opens.   

Native Detroiter Alice Cooper opens for Motley Crue on Saturday night.

J. Cole, Oct. 5, Little Caesars Arena: The North Carolina rapper scored another No. 1 album with his latest studio effort, "The Off-Season," his sixth studio effort (and first since 2018's "KOD.")  That last album also brought him to Little Caesars Arena, in September 2018, as he's proved himself to have staying continued power at the top of the hip-hop world. Now only if he'd enjoy it, or at least let himself crack a smile. Cole's "My Life" co-conspirators 21 Savage and Morray open.

10. J. Cole, July 23, The Palace: The North Carolina rapper brings the tour behind last year’s “4 Your Eyez Only” in his inaugural trip to the Pistons’ (former) home.

Other upcoming concerts on the docket: 

Little Caesars Arena

Aug. 28: CMG Takeover with Yo Gotti, Moneybagg Yo, Blac Youngsta, 42 Dugg, EST Gee, Coi Leray and Jacquees

Sept. 17: Alan Jackson

Oct. 1: Blake Shelton

Oct. 10: The Millennium Tour featuring Omarion, Bow Wow, Ashanti, Pretty Ricky, Soulja Boy, Lloyd, Ying Yang Twins and Sammie

Oct. 28: Florida Georgia Line

Singers Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley of Florida Georgia Line

DTE Energy Music Theatre

July 25: Chicago

July 29: The Black Crowes

Aug. 1: James Taylor and his All-Star Band

Aug. 6-7: Chris Stapleton

Aug. 11: Dave Matthews Band

Aug. 13: WYCD Hoedown with Lady A, Carly Pearce, Niko Moon and Tenille Arts

Aug. 14: Ted Nugent

Aug. 15: Kings of Leon

Aug. 20: Pitbull with Iggy Azalea

Pitbull performs at the 15th annual Latin Grammy Awards.

Aug. 21: Daryl Hall & John Oates with Squeeze and KT Tunstall

Aug. 23: Maroon 5

Aug. 31: Korn and Staind

Sept. 1: Kiss

Sept. 2: The Doobie Brothers

Sept. 11: Brad Paisley with Jimmie Allen and Kameron Marlowe

Sept. 14: The Jonas Brothers

Sept. 18: RIFF Fest with Rob Zombie, Chevelle, Avatar, Candlebox and Ayron Jones

Sept. 19: Megadeth and Lamb of God

Sept. 24: NF

Sept. 30: Zac Brown Band

Zac Brown of the Zac Brown Band performs a tribute to Little Jimmy Dickens at the 49th annual CMA Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on Nov. 4, 2015, in Nashville, Tenn.

Oct. 2: Slipknot with special guests Killswitch Engage, Fever 333 and Code Orange

Oct. 7: Dierks Bentley

Meadow Brook Amphitheatre

Aug. 8: Jason Mraz with special guest Brett Dennen

Aug. 14: Chris Tomlin, Kari Jobe and Bethel Music

Aug. 15: Counting Crows with special guests Seán Barna and Matt Sucich

Aug. 20: Modest Mouse

Isaac Brock perform's Modest Mouse's 'Be Brave" during it's set before The Black Keys.

Aug. 28: King Crimson with special guest The Zappa Band

Sept. 10: Quinn XCII and Chelsea Cutler with special guest Tia Verdes

Aretha Park Amphitheatre

June 26: Omar S

July 7: Sheila E. and Monica Blaire

July 14: Avery*Sunshine and Mike Phillips

July 21: Kirk Whalum and Keiko Matsui

July 28: Gerald Albright and Kim Waters + Kayla Waters

Aug. 4: PJ Morton

Aug. 11: Christian Scott Atunde Adjuah and the Hamiltones

Aug. 18: Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle

Aug. 21: The Isley Brothers and Chaka Khan

Aug. 25: Will Downing

Sept. 1: Najee and Friends

Sept. 3: Jeezy

Jeezy performs at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Friday.

Sept. 8: Kindred the Family Soul and Rahsaan Patterson

Sept. 15: Incognito and Maysa

Sept. 21: Machine Gun Kelly with JXDN and KENNYHOOPLA

Sept. 22: Damien Escobar

Fox Theatre

Sept. 9: Il Divo

Sept. 11: Franki Valli and the Four Seasons

Sept. 19: Judas Priest

Oct. 7: Little Big Town

Country music group Little Big Town performs as the second of two opening acts for Luke Bryan at Ford Field.

Oct. 11: Foreigner Orchestral

Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre

Aug. 7: 3 Doors Down with Seether

Aug. 12: Lindsey Stirling with Kiesza

Aug. 21: Hot 107.5 Summer Jamz with Sada Baby, Icewear Vezzo, Peezy, Babyface Ray and Erica Banks

Aug. 22: 105.9 Kiss Block Party with Dru Hill, Jagged Edge, 112 & Ginuwine

Aug. 26: Boyz II Men and En Vogue

LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 28:  (L-R) Singers  of Boyz II Men perform during a stop of The Total Package Tour at T-Mobile Arena on May 28, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Shawn Stockman, Wanya Morris and Nathan Morris of Boyz II Men perform during a stop of The Total Package Tour at T-Mobile Arena on May 28 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Aug. 28: Made in the '80s with Slick Rick, Big Daddy Kane, EPMD, Furious5 featuring Grandmaster Melle Mel & Scorpio, Sugarhill Gang and UTFO’s Kangol Kid

Aug. 29: The White Concert with Marsha Ambrosius, Raheem DeVaughn, Vivian Green and Jon B.

Sept. 3: Trippie Redd

Sept. 4: Brothers Osborne

Sept. 11: Erykah Badu

Sept. 14: TLC with Bone Thugs N’ Harmony

TLC — Tionne ‘T-Boz’ Watkins, left, and Rozonda ‘Chilli’ Thomas — are part of Sunday’s I Love the ’90s Tour at DTE.

Sept. 16: 311 special guests Iration and Iya Terra

Sept. 18: Brett Eldredge

Sept. 22: Primus with special guest the Sword

Sept. 24: Blackberry Smoke with the Allman Betts Band and Jaimoe

Oct. 1: NEEDTOBREATHE with Switchfoot and the New Respects 

Oct. 2: Glass Animals