Summer 2016’s 30 Hottest Tours
In the coming months, a massive array of major artists will take to the road or continue in-progress trips. In addition to tours from pop royalty (Beyoncé, Adele) and resurgent rockers (Guns N' Roses, Blink-182), many acts are pooling their resources to create unstoppable package shows (Drake and Future, Nick Jonas and Demi Lovato, Weezer and Panic! at the Disco). Here are the 30 tours we're most excited about this summer.
Through October 2nd
Beyoncé got a little emotional on the way to Miami's Marlins Park before the start of her first-ever solo stadium tour on April 27th. "I've dreamed of this my whole life," she said. Her Formation Tour is her most impressive yet: a politically-charged spectacle built around her stunning new LP, Lemonade, and featuring darker versions of familiar hits, as well as a 50-foot-tall tower of video screens that shoots flames and projects psychedelic images. The 40-plus-date tour has already grossed more than $200 million. "It's a home run," says the tour's promoter, Arthur Fogel. "It could be the most successful tour of the year."
July 5th-November 9th
"I've been dying to do a fucking show," Adele said at a warm-up gig last year. She toured only briefly behind her 2011 album, 21, due to vocal issues. Five years later, she's embarking on her first American arena tour ever in support of 25. These concerts will showcase her powerhouse vocals and living-room intimacy; she often banters with fans, and recently barked at security for kicking some audience members out of the aisles. All 54 North American dates sold out in seconds, and while Adele could easily add more, she's pacing herself. "I'm not doing fucking dance routines like Beyoncé," she says. "But performing every night is still grueling, so I need to be in good form for that."
Through October 5th
A few years ago, McCartney decided to spend more time at home with his daughter. He stopped mounting long world tours, in favor of shorter, more frequent runs. "It's like Bob Dylan's Never Ending Tour," says McCartney. "It's great, because it leaves you hungry to get back onstage." A recent marathon 38-song gig in Fresno, California, featured surprises like "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!" (which he'd previously sworn off as too difficult to play) and the first live versions of "Love Me Do" and "A Hard Day's Night" in more than 50 years. "The opening chord is iconic," he says of "A Hard Day's Night." "I suggested that to the band, and we all got a bit sort of goosebumpy. If it excites us, it will probably excite an audience, fingers crossed!"
Guns N’ Roses
June 23rd-August 22nd
The unlikely reunion of Axl Rose and classic-era Guns N' Roses members Slash and bassist Duff McKagan after decades of public acrimony and bitter swipes in the press still seems impossible. And yet they played their first dates together for the first time since 1993 in April, many of which found Rose seated on Dave Grohl's "rock throne," and they have set two months' worth of stadium gigs that will run from June to August this summer, with support coming variously from Alice in Chains and Lenny Kravitz. Even weirder is how the dates will commence after Rose returns from a European run fronting AC/DC. But the most stunning fact remains that the reunion has appeared to be working so far, even if none of the band members have spoken about it explicitly. They've dubbed their trek the "Not in This Lifetime … Tour," so maybe it's best not to question why it's all going so well.
June 12th-October 15th
Not long ago, Wilson, 73, was considering retirement. Not anymore: After the success of his 2015 biopic, Love & Mercy, Wilson decided to hit the road to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Pet Sounds by performing the 1966 classic in its entirety. "I'm really having a lot of fun," he says. Wilson has seen lots of younger faces in the audience, and he's finding new meaning in classics like "Wouldn't It Be Nice" and "God Only Knows," with a band that includes longtime Beach Boys guitarist Al Jardine. "It's a nostalgic feeling," Wilson says of performing the material. "I go back to when I was 23 years old, producing that album. It makes me proud." Now, he's even thinking about his next tour: "I'd love to do Summer Days (and Summer Nights!!) in its entirety. Those are some great songs!"
June 21st-October 1st
The pop-punk pioneers have a lot to prove on their first tour since splitting with co-founder Tom DeLonge, who is replaced by singer-guitarist Matt Skiba of Alkaline Trio. "With the previous incarnation of Blink, there were times we wouldn't rehearse before a tour," says singer-bassist Mark Hoppus. "We really want to be ready when we step out onstage." Says Skiba, "[We] fit together like Legos."
July 26th-August 8th
Radiohead's first U.S. tour in four years is a painfully short run of three festivals and two-night stands in New York and Los Angeles. The band's European sets in recent days have been full-catalog feasts, encompassing tracks from the band's stunning new LP, A Moon Shaped Pool, as well as old favorites like "My Iron Lung" and even, after seven years off from the tune, the mighty "Creep." Expect the unexpected.
Through July 1st
Five decades into his career, Simon hasn't stopped obsessing over his live sound. "I'm constantly [telling my band], 'Too many notes,'" says Simon. "Everybody doesn't have to play all the time, even though they're all very good musicians." Simon is slowly working in new songs, like the haunting "The Werewolf," but there's no shortage of hits. A recent show at Atlanta's Fox Theatre spanned from Simon and Garfunkel classics ("Homeward Bound," "America") to a heavy dose of Graceland. "They want to hear 'You Can Call Me Al,' so I play it," he says. "It's not like I would pick it out because I really want to."
Through June 12th
"Nice to meet you!" Axl Rose told 50,000 AC/DC fans in Lisbon during his first show singing with the band. And it does feel like we're meeting a new guy. After years of reclusive behavior, Axl is fronting not one but two of the biggest tours of the summer: AC/DC (while singer Brian Johnson is out of commission) and, later, a reunited Guns N' Roses. "I'm hoping to make it through the first show before I get fired," Rose joked. He did, adding new menace to hits like "Back in Black." Here's hoping the punishing schedule won't cause him to blow out his voice ahead of GN'R's stadium run.
July 20th-September 18th
Drake and Future cemented their spaced-out chemistry on last year's mixtape What a Time to Be Alive, and they'll take those songs – plus all their solo hits – on their 27-city Summer Sixteen Tour. A double bill this heavy hasn't existed since Jay Z and Kanye West's 2011 Watch the Throne Tour. "We've got a great vibe," says Future. "Love is love. We made it work when people said it couldn't work."
Dead & Company
June 10th-July 30th
"There is a lot left in this music to explore," Dead and Company drummer Mickey Hart says, explaining why the band – featuring singer-guitarist John Mayer in the Jerry Garcia hot spot – is following its 2015 tour with 24 stadium shows. "People can't wait to get to soundcheck," Hart says. "When that happens, something's right." The band will add 20 classics to the 60 songs in last fall's set lists – including, Hart hopes, 1970's "High Time" and the Nineties ballad "Liberty." Those tunes take "intensive study," the drummer admits. "We're going to crack out the nuggets, not the low-hanging fruit."
August 17th-September 24th
A couple years shy of their 50th anniversary, Black Sabbath will continue their long goodbye in August for what may be their last-ever trek across North America. As with the first leg of the tour – a farewell jaunt ominously dubbed "The End" – this past winter, founding members Ozzy Osbourne, guitarist Tony Iommi and bassist Geezer Butler will be joined by touring drummer Tommy Clufetos (original drummer Bill Ward is not participating due to a contract dispute). But lineup changes have not stymied the heavy-metal firebrands from putting on stunning shows filled with their headbangingest hits ("Iron Man," "Paranoid," "War Pigs") and doomiest deep cuts ("Hand of Doom," "Dirty Women"). And despite the grandness of staging a farewell tour – the group has yet to confirm its last-ever concert – Osbourne says it's not about legacy. To him, it's about honoring the fans. "The very fact that people remember us today is enough for me," he says. "There ain't many bands that I know that have lasted as long as Black Sabbath have and are still considered somewhat relevant."
July 12th-October 15th
Stefani knows she's out of practice. "My stomach is nervous," she says, looking ahead to her first major solo tour in a decade. "I haven't toured in so long." After a break in which she had three kids and became a coach on The Voice, the singer is excited to return with a new band. She'll play her old solo hits and debut songs from her confessional new album, which addresses the breakup of her marriage to Gavin Rossdale. "Even singing these songs is going to be healing," she says. "Because a lot of the music is so joyful and full of hope. It's pretty magical, I have to say."
June 22nd-September 4th
Last summer, Trey Anastasio joined the Grateful Dead for their Fare Thee Well concerts before spending the rest of the year on the road with Phish. "By New Year's, I just felt so loose," he says. "It reminds me of 1994, 1995. I kinda miss that." Phish took that energy into the studio all winter, recording songs Anastasio expects to debut on the road. "We're firing on all cylinders," says Anastasio. "Maybe it has something to do with the fact that we all turned 50, but there's a patience and a desire to really hear what the other band members have to say."
Bob Dylan/Mavis Staples
June 4th-August 14th
As a teenager, Dylan loved Staple Singers records. "I said to myself, ‘One day, you'll be standing with your arm around that girl,'" he said of Mavis Staples last year. (After they met in the Sixties, he famously proposed to her.) Now, they're reuniting for a 27-date tour of outdoor venues. Staples expects to delve into her late-Sixties Stax catalog, and Dylan has been focusing recently on post-1997 material. "I hope Bobby won't hide from me," Staples told Rolling Stone. "I might ask him, ‘If we get into a hotel that has a kitchenette, would you want me to cook for you?' I'll fix him whatever he wants."
Through October 22nd
Last year, Stapleton became the biggest new artist in country music with his platinum-selling Traveler. On his first major tour, he's inviting friends Jason Isbell and veteran hell-raiser Hank Williams Jr. to open select shows. Stapleton's band will include a rotating cast of country vets like harmonica player Mickey Raphael (of Willie Nelson's band) and pedal steel virtuoso Robby Turner (who once toured with Waylon Jennings). Expect lots of jamming, and covers ranging from Tom Petty to Prince. "I don't know if we're a direct fit for anything," says Stapleton. "So that makes it OK for us to do everything."
Bad Boy Reunion
August 25th-October 8th
Considering the family-like atmosphere established by Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs with his groundbreaking label Bad Boy Records, it's surprising it took this long for him to take his hefty, iconic roster out on the road in one big group. For this trek, he's brought together everyone from Lil Kim to Faith Evans to the Lox in order to continue celebrating two decades of one of hip-hop's most influential labels. In true Puff fashion, he got the party started a little early in order to commemorate what would have been Notorious B.I.G.'s 44th birthday with a May 20th Brooklyn gig complete with honorary Bad Boy artists Mary J. Blige and Jay Z. Fans across North America will have to wait until August, when the proper tour launches, to witness a piece of hip-hop history.
June 21st-July 24th
Sting and Gabriel first hit the road together for a series of benefit gigs for Amnesty International in 1986. A successful 2014 tour with Paul Simon inspired Sting to reunite with Gabriel for collaborative evenings heavy on the hits. "We'll hopefully find something unexpected and intriguing between us," says Sting. "It's going to be serious fun!"
Nick Jonas/Demi Lovato
June 29th-August 6th
As they prepare to hit the road for their sixth joint tour, Nick Jonas and Demi Lovato are at the top of their respective games. Jonas — whose solo career post-JoBros is settling in nicely — is preparing to release his most provocative album yet with Last Year Was Complicated while Lovato has repeatedly established herself as one of the most powerful voices of this pop generation, having showed off her range on last year's Confident. The pair have seen each other grow up from Disney to adulthood, and now they're paving their own, mature pop lanes and even acting as business partners with their collaborative label, Safehouse. "The key for us was about living in the moment," Jonas said during the announcement of the Future Now Tour earlier this year. "Taking a step out individually over the last year and a half, two years, growing with our fans, and saying if there's ever a time to do it, it's now, to come together and do this tour."
Through September 17th
Lambert has been working classic-rock covers – Foghat's "Slow Ride," Mountain's "Mississippi Queen" – into her sets of country hits. Recent gigs have been highly emotional affairs, in the wake of her divorce from Blake Shelton. "My main concern is being real and genuine," she says. "I usually wear jeans or shorts and a T-shirt, and I just go sing my heart out. Sweat and tears, guitars and beer. That about sums it up!"
Weezer/Panic! at the Disco
June 10th-August 6th
Weezer's 1994 debut helped kick-start the emo movement that gave birth to Panic! at the Disco, so it's fitting the bands are going to hit the amphitheater circuit for a cross-generational tour. Weezer just released a California-pop LP that's perfect for summer nights, and Panic! surprised the world earlier this year with a chart-topping comeback album, Death of a Bachelor. "Panic! fans are super open-minded," says Rivers Cuomo. "So it's going to be a huge lovefest."
June 9th-August 5th
Two of the most twisted shock rockers to emerge from the Nineties will tour together again this summer for the first time since Ozzfest 2001. It's a perfect match, according to Slipknot frontman Corey Taylor. "He's so good at that reactionary rock & roll," the masked singer said of Manson in an interview with Rolling Stone this year. "Slipknot holds down the metal side of that where no matter who you are, you listen to our music and it elicits a response … some kind of way for us to feel." It's a mutual respect that goes back over a decade. In 2001, Manson said he championed bringing Slipknot onto the Ozzfest bill because he liked "the fact that they are very nihilistic and there's a lot of chaos in their show." At the time, he said both bands were "two of only a few bands that have a genuine attitude in what we do." All these years later – as each artist tours on albums that signified rebirths (stylistically for Manson, emotionally for Slipknot) – it's a distinction that still rings true.
Florence and the Machine
May 24th-July 3rd
As Florence and the Machine have graduated to larger stages in recent years, frontwoman Florence Welch has become an onstage dynamo. On the first leg of the group's tour supporting its latest LP, last year's cinematic and emotional breakup record How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful, the singer pulled ballerina shapes, ran around barefoot and even charged audiences topless all as an expression of primal freedom. She and her multi-person rock orchestra return in May for an expansive North American trek that finds them playing amphitheaters and arenas, venues where Welch can stretch out and test her mettle. "It's almost like I'm trying to fly," she tells Rolling Stone of her high-performance onstage athleticism. "I always imagine that one day I would just run and take off. There's just so much adrenaline going, so the mortality of your body is sort of inconsequential. Just like, 'Fuck it. Go!'"
Jeff Beck/Buddy Guy
July 19th-August 20th
Two of the greatest living guitarists will be sharing a co-headlining bill on a tour that runs from July into August. Last year, Buddy Guy – the man Keith Richards recently proclaimed "the top honcho now" – put out Born to Play Guitar, an album of 14 six-string burners, including a tribute to late bluesman B.B. King. This summer, Jeff Beck will release Loud Hailer, his first LP in six years, an album that will find him playing rock, soul, funk, electronic music and, of course, the blues. That said, don't expect to hear a lot of Beck's new wizardry on the road right off the bat. "We're going to do the usual thing and start the show to get it rolling," he recently told a press conference. "Then when it's safe, we're going to start with the new stuff." As for the new tunes, fans should expect more traditional songs over his typical instrumental rock orchestras. "What you hear is just the most genuine album I could come up with rather than a bunch of musos trying to gas each other out with as many notes at they could possibly play," he says.
May 24th-July 25th
What began as a supergroup recording project has become a full-fledged band. Hollywood Vampires originally came together as means for its core members – Alice Cooper, Johnny Depp and Joe Perry – to toast what the shock-rock icon describes as his "dead drunk friends." Now they've committed to an 18-date summer tour, which begins with one date in May and then many more in July. "Apparently, Johnny's not making any movies this summer," Cooper tells Rolling Stone with a big laugh. "I think he loves playing rock & roll more than he does making movies." The band primarily plays gritty rock cover songs, which the singer says is an homage to each of the musicians' roots. "Every band that's ever made it was a bar band at some point," Cooper says. "It was a band that played four hours a night and had to do 'Mustang Sally' and every dance song that ever was, and that's how a band gets good. It's an old tradition to go back to that and be a bar band again, only we're a pretty big bar band."
Joan Jett/Cheap Trick/Heart
July 14th-September 23rd
The three bands – all recent Rock Hall inductees – will unite for the Rock Hall Three for All amphitheater tour. "It's going to be a blast," says Jett.
July 17th-August 11th
The chart-topping duo will tour arenas with a spectacle that includes stage dives and backflips. "These shows deserve to be special," says singer Tyler Joseph.
July 17th-September 21st
Henley promises to include Eagles hits on his set list, which will be more poignant in light of Glenn Frey's death earlier this year.
ZZ Top/ Gregg Allman
August 16th-October 7th
These two first toured together in 1971. Billy Gibbons expects to build on the camaraderie with epic jams like "Whipping Post." "There's going to be nothing but loudness and rock & roll in the forefront," he says.
Toots & the Maytals
June 15th-August 13th
After three years off the road recovering from a stage injury, the reggae pioneer will bring classics like "Pressure Drop" to festivals and clubs. "I'm a little anxious," says Toots Hibbert. "I can't wait. … We have the best fans. They know it's going to be a party, and they expect us to be tight every night."
'This Is Extraordinary': Why The Eras Tour Is Taylor Swift's Greatest Live Triumph Yet.
- Every Night With Us Is Like A Dream