Phillip Phillips - Sunday, December 7 - Celebrity Theatre
When one thinks of skills necessary to win American Idol, guitar playing is not one of them. That was until the 2012 season when Georgia native Phillip Phillips took first prize in part with his renditions of Dave Matthews and Bob Seger songs. Phillips' coronation song, "Home," which you would quickly recognize, became the biggest selling tune of any American Idol alumnus.
Judges Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, and Steven Tyler drooled over him, and during the finals, Phillips and his opponent drew a record number of votes. A younger Phillips would have been psyched about the adulation. "You wanted to be a rock star as a teenager. I wasn't the coolest kid around, so you want people to notice you. You want girls to notice you. But by American Idol, I had a great girlfriend, which I still have today."
Phillips went through great pains to stress how he prefers now to be low key with his favorite downtime activities being "hanging out on the river, going 4x4ing, going to the movies and eating popcorn." But his success post Idol prevented him from living an anonymous existence. His first album, The World from the Side of the Moon went platinum and his follow up, this year's Behind the Light debuted at number seven on the Billboard charts. "It was inspired by life experiences and imagination." He said about the newest record. "I wanted it to have a live feel. Then even if people don't know the songs, they can appreciate the energy." -- David Rolland
Ryan Adams - Wednesday, December 10 - Gammage Auditorium
After starting Whiskeytown, a band that unapologetically tried to mimic American Music Club sans gay frontman sporting a unibrow, singer-songwriter Ryan Adams has been trying to beat the sun, recording at a furious pace and living life as variously as possible. Since 2007, Adams married the poor man's Britney Spears (which is surely better than marrying Britney Spears), released two books of poetry and short stories, been diagnosed with Meniere's Disease (he'll lose his shit if you go overboard with camera flashes), dropped one band (The Cardinals) and added another (The Shining), released a mountain of recordings via his own Pax Americana Recording Company, produced albums for a diverse array of artists and developed an affinity for pinball (he is currently touring with a Metallica pinball machine). You can expect a career-spanning set of songs both released and unreleased; Adams may even perform an improvised song if you ask nice enough. -- Jeremy Hallock
Fleetwood Mac - Wednesday, December 10 - Talking Stick Resort Arena
You know, Fleetwood Mac's Tusk was a really good album. There was also an album called Rumors that did quite well and on the whole, Fleetwood Mac has had a wonderful career. They have had some ups and downs, like any band, and the tensions between the key players, Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Christine McVie, Lindsay Buckingham and Paradise Valley's Stevie Nicks have, at very least, created some of the most popular American music in the past 40 years. Not too shabby for a band that started across the pond in the 1960's and has had more members than Baskin Robbins has flavors. Truth be told, it is easy to overlook the prodigious output of really good songs when you consider all the public tantrums, rumors (no pun intended), and basically bad behavior. A penchant for shawls really isn't that terrible, is it? Or finger picking an electric guitar? Tall drummers look awkward, sure, but that's okay too when the singers sing so well. In the long run, it will all make for a poorly produced Lifetime movie and we'll all collectively yawn and think, "What a shame those poor millionaires couldn't get along for longer periods of time." -- Tom Reardon
Opeth - Wednesday, December 10 - Marquee Theatre
Sweden's Opeth started out as a fairly straightahead death-metal band, but in 1992, after drastic lineup changes, the band, led by singer and guitarist Mikael Åkerfeldt, slowly developed the sound it would bring to its 1995 debut, Orchid. Sonically, Opeth recalls '70s art-rock bands like Jethro Tull mixed with late-'80s progressive metal like that of Fates Warning, with the occasional death-metal growl employed for emphasis between Åkerfeldt's resonantly melodic vocals. There's a disarmingly quiet grace to Opeth's best material; with a blend of acoustic rock and heavier sensibilities, it sounds like what you might get if neo-folk were to come out of Judas Priest and Slayer. -- Tom Murphy