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Summer Tour Preview 2013

Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake, Paul McCartney, Beyonce and more tours you don’t want to miss

summer tour preview

This year's summer concert season has its share of big draws, from Taylor Swift to the Rolling Stones, whose 50 and Counting tour runs through late June. There are also plenty of seasoned road warriors (Jimmy Buffett, Dave Matthews Band), pop sensations (One Direction, Imagine Dragons), country heroes (Brad Paisley) and a bunch of intriguing packages (Bob Dylan/Wilco/My Morning Jacket, Wiz Khalifa/A$AP Rocky, Jay-Z/Justin Timberlake). But there's no U2, Madonna or even Roger Waters – no single massive megastar tour running throughout the summer and raking in cash. That's good news for consumers: What you save from not spending $350 on one of those top-dollar acts can go to five or six shows starring some of the world's biggest pop, rock and hip-hop stars. Read on for this season's live highlights.

By Steve Knopper

Kings of the Mic LL Cool J De La Soul Ice Cube Public Enemy summer tour preview

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LL Cool J, De La Soul, Ice Cube, Public Enemy

Ice Cube is stuck in cornball movies, LL Cool J contributed the year's most awkward lyric to Brad Paisley's "Accidental Racist" and neither De La Soul nor Public Enemy has had a hit in decades. But Kings of the Mic is still the best old-school hip-hop tour in years, and though these once-mighty MCs look puffier than they used to, they still rock hard (have you seen live PE clips lately?).

The National summer tour preview

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The National

The National, whose album Trouble Will Find Me is due this week, may be this summer's Arcade Fire – a beloved indie-rock act graduating from theatres to arenas. (The band's sound is small enough to do a date at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium, but large enough to headline Brooklyn's Barclays Center on a tour that runs through September.) It's hard to imagine this frequently gloomy band busting out its Springsteen-style anthems for arenas and sheds, but as The Cure once showed us, pain is universal.

Paul McCartney summer tour preview

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Paul McCartney

With his crack rock 'n' roll band cranking through "Live and Let Die" and (if you're lucky) "Helter Skelter," Macca expands from arenas to stadiums this summer, playing a handful of them through mid-August. The show isn't Springsteen, but McCartney gives fans nearly three hours per night, generously sampling the Beatles' catalogue as well as familiar and obscure stuff from his own ("Mrs. Vandebilt").

Ke$ha Pitbull summer tour preview

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Ke$ha/Pitbull

Numerous cheap lawn tickets (and others) are available throughout this double-pop-star amphitheatre pairing, which perhaps indicates it's not selling as briskly as promoters hoped. Maybe the audiences don't fit together – Pitbull's roots are in Miami dance culture and Latino hip-hop, while Ke$ha is repackaging the Beastie Boys' raps for rebellious tweens. All they have in common is the Top 40.

Kid Rock summer tour preview

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Kid Rock

The big news about the Detroit rocker's tour is the ticket price: $20, including service fees, for everybody. But Rock also is an underrated showman, and in recent dates in his home state of Michigan, he has picked intriguing covers (John Denver's "Thank God I'm a Country Boy," Bob Seger's "Rock and Roll Never Forgets") to go with his own "You Never Met a Motherfucker Quite Like Me," "All Summer Long" and "Bawitdaba." He's brilliant at walking the line between contemporary, hip-hop-influenced rock and classic rock, along with a few country touches.

Miranda Lambert summer tour preview

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Miranda Lambert

When Lambert participated on Rolling Stone's best-venues panel, she nominated what seemed to be every venue she ever played, from Tulsa's BOC Center to Dallas' American Airlines Arena. Which means in addition to being a high-heeled diva, Blake Shelton's wife, a member of the Pistol Annies and the author of some of the best outlaw songs of the past decade, she's a dedicated road dog. Her tour, through mid-September, includes co-stars such as Jason Aldean and Dierks Bentley.

Tom Petty summer tour preview

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Tom Petty

Road-warrior Petty's tour is more of a series of multi-night stands – he and the Heartbreakers recently started a five-night run at New York's Beacon Theatre, then do six nights at Los Angeles' Henry Fonda Theatre, then move onto Bonnaroo and Milwaukee's Summerfest with a few amphihtheatres in between. Wherever and however you see him, though, there is no such thing as a bad Petty show.

Adam Levine Maroon 5 Summer Tour Preview

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Maroon 5

The Honda Civic Tour might have been called the Created or Recreated by Television tour – "The Voice" star Adam Levine fronts the band, of course, and co-headliner Kelly Clarkson first came to the world via "American Idol." The tour, which begins in early August and ends in late September, arrives after the band had to postpone a brief European run from next month to next January due to "scheduling conflicts."

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