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You can dip your toe into the exotic rhythms of Africa Fete '98, coming to 20 North American cities this summer

Summer promises blockbuster concerts

Web posted on: Tuesday, May 26, 1998 5:57:56 PM EDT

From Correspondent Mark Scheerer

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Who needs summer blockbuster movies viewed in the darkness of theaters? Music fans are preparing to head outdoors, into the sunshine, to see the annual blockbuster concerts that parade through town this time of year.

This season's crop has plenty to pick from. The trend of outdoor, day-long festivals -- sparked by Lollapalooza, which is taking a break this year -- is going strong with five major tours featuring five different brands of song. Major recording artists like Dave Matthews are selling out arenas in every city.

And a number of smaller tours are offering music fans a sampling of tunes from around the world.

Without a passport, you can sample the best of Ireland's music -- and its breweries -- at the Guinness Fleadh this year in New York, Chicago and San Francisco. You can also dip into the exotic rhythms of Africa Fete '98, coming to 20 North American cities.

Sample the best of Ireland's music -- and its breweries -- at the Guinness Fleadh

The big shindigs

Lilith Fair, the all-female act organized by Sarah McLachlan, returns for a second round with more performers, including Bonnie Raitt and Natalie Merchant.

The H.O.R.D.E. festival, started by the members of Blues Traveler, plans extensive touring, and Ozzfest, named after founding metal-rocker Ozzy Osbourne, will rage through the U.S. again this summer after its smash success last summer.

"I kept hearing that metal is dead and Ozzie's dead and people that like Ozzie are dead," Osbourne said. "I have never had an empty seat. I've always sold out, so who's saying it's all over?"

For those who miss the days of The Who and other Brit rock bands, the British Rock Symphony offers a remedy, sort of. The new tour will feature British artists like The Who's Roger Daltry, backed by a 60-piece orchestra, turning their old favorites into rock-classicals.

"I think The Who will be doing something probably next year. I need to sing just to keep the pipes in order," Daltry said.

Finally, there's the Further Festival. One of the headliners this year is a band called The Other Ones. It's the surviving members of the Grateful Dead playing Dead music, which always attracts a crowd.

For lovers of all things English, there's a new tour: the British Rock Symphony

'A brilliant performer'

But whatever happened to the concert featuring just one headlining band? This year, The Dave Matthews Band is leading the charge away from the festivals, touring in major arenas across the country.

"A brilliant performer, great musicians," New York concert promoter Ron Delsener said of the group.

Scott Gelman, a Chicago promoter, is equally impressed with Dave Matthews.

"In Chicago and Wisconsin, we sold two venues, 58,000 tickets in 50 minutes -- unheard of, unheralded. He is a true superstar," Gelman said.

Other musicians straying from festival madness include Shania Twain, Matchbox 20, Celine Dion, Spice Girls, and Backstreet Boyz.

And riding the crest of the 1980s revival are The Pretenders and the B-52s, who will hit the road as the temperatures soar, and music fans ready for another blockbuster season.


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