April 2023 Concert Guide: Luke Combs, The Isley Brothers, The Wallflowers, Southside Johnny, Natalie Merchant, and Lucius

The two lead vocalists of Lucius performing at a 2016 concert. (photo: Abby Gillardi)

The two lead vocalists of Lucius performing at a 2016 concert. (photo: Abby Gillardi)

It’s only April and we already have an Acrisure Stadium mega show with Luke Comes, Riley Green, Lainey Wilson, Flatland Cavalry, and Brent Cobb. The next biggest concert is at UPMC Events Center with The Isley Brothers, The Whispers, and Howard Hewitt (originally of Shalamar). Other top acts include The Wallflowers, Queensryche, and Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes. Additional April music power will be provided by Skid Row and Warrant, Molly Hatchet, Joe Grushecky and The Houserockers, and Jim Donovan & Sun King Warriors. Women are keeping the Pittsburgh concert scene lively this month too, with appearances by Natalie Merchant, Lucius, and Jill Sobule.

This guide features (in chronological order) Spotlight Picks, Other Shows of Interest, and Big Shows on the Horizon. Get out and see what pleases you, whether it’s one of our concert picks or something entirely different.

Spotlight Picks

Wednesday, April 5

Progressive heavy metal band Queensrÿche formed in Bellevue, Washington in 1982 and rose to national prominence with the 1990 hit “Silent Lucidity.” The song was nominated for two Grammys and five MTV Music Awards, winning for Viewers Choice. After some breakups, reformations, and controversy over who owned the name Queensrÿche—with two different bands touring under the name—all legal matters have been settled and the band (only one) has been touring again. Isn’t rock ‘n roll grand! The band is touring in support of their latest album, 2022’s Digital Noise Alliance. Marty Friedman, and Trauma open. 7:30 p.m. Roxian Theatre, 425 Chartiers Ave., McKees Rocks.

Thursday, April 6

Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes are bringing their wall-of-sound to Greensburg’s Palace Theatre this month. The band features a New Jersey rock sound complemented by a very talented horn section. Southside Johnny’s first three albums were arranged and produced by the co-founder of the band and Bruce Springsteen associate, Steven Van Zandt. The albums were mainly composed of songs written by Van Zandt and/or Springsteen. They are especially well known for the songs “Trapped Again,” “Without Love,” and “We’re Having A Party.” Their most recent release is 2015’s Soultime. Special guest is The Weight Band. 7:30 p.m. 21 W. Otterman St.

Friday, April 7



Wow, talk about an iconic soul/funk concert—UPMC Events center is hosting several top bands of the genre for The R&B Legends Showdown. The Isley Brothers, The Whispers, and Howard Hewitt will all be performing on the RMU campus. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame band, The Isley Brothers have recently celebrated their 60th anniversary and have had hits in six straight decades from the ’50s to the ’00s. Those hits include “Shout,” “It’s Your Thing,” “Summer Breeze,” and their own version of The Beatles’ “Twist and Shout.” Their latest album release is 2022’s Make Me Say It Again, Girl. The Whispers had two no. 1 hits with “And the Beat Goes On” and “Rock Steady.” “It’s a Love Thing” was another chart riser for the group. Howard Hewitt, along with Jody Watley and Jeffrey Daniel, were core elements of the band Shalamar. The group created legendary hit songs like: “A Night to Remember,” “Make That Move,” “The Second Time Around,” and “This is for the Lover in You.” Rounding out this super solid bill is award-winning trumpeter, Tom Browne. 8 p.m. 6001 University Blvd., Moon Township.

Southern fried rock from Molly Hatchet can be enjoyed at Irwin’s Lamp Theater. “Flirtin’ With Disaster,” “Dreams I’ll Never See” and “Gator Country” are the songs that propelled Molly Hatchet to the upper echelon of 1970s southern rock. The band hails from Jacksonville, Florida, the same town that produced the legendary Lynyrd Skynyrd. Although no original members remain due to untimely passings and band departures, the group continues to play the music they are known for. Their latest album is the 2019 live LP Battleground. Special guest is Six Gun Sally. 222 Main St.

The band Lucius is no stranger to Pittsburgh. They have played many concerts here over the years, even playing a main stage show at the 2019 Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival. This indy rock band is from Brooklyn and has somewhat more of a pop sound. Lucius’ fourth, and latest, studio album, Second Nature, was released in 2022. The mainstays of the group are twin lead vocalists Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig. You can catch them at Mr. Smalls on their Love So Deep Tour with special guest Danielle Ponder. 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale.

Friday April 14

Since 1986, Skid Row has seen a lot of changes, both within and outside the band. What hasn’t changed, however, is that these guys know how to rock out. Formed in 1986 by Rachel Bolan and Dave Sabo (a childhood friend of Jon Bon Jovi), Skid Row has a long (and at times tumultuous) history. They’re right up there with the greats of glam metal, like Mötley Crue, Quiet Riot, and, yes, Bon Jovi. Hits with that epic, arena rock sound, like “I Remember You” and “18 and Life” stand out in Skid Row’s repertoire and serve as proof that these guys know what they’re doing. Today, the band consists of Bolan and Sabo, along with Scotti Hill, Rob Hammersmith, and Erik Grönwall.

Glam band Warrant was at the zenith of their success from their formation in Los Angeles in 1984, to 1996, with five highly successful albums. Their first big hit was “Heaven”, but they are arguably best known for the risque dity, “Cherry Pie,” with the line “She’s My Cherry Pie” The video for the latter heavily featured model Bobbie Brown dancing and in various outfits including “Daisy Duke” shorts. As a result of the shoot, Brown and lead singer Jani Lane (now deceased) started dating, eventually marrying and divorcing. The song “Cherry Pie” reached no. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1990 and in 2009 the song was listed as the 56th Best Rock Song by VH1. The band’s latest album is 2017’s Louder Harder Faster. Skid Row and Warrant will be performing at the Rivers Casino Event Center. 7 p.m. 777 Casino Dr., North Shore.

Jim Donovan & Sun King Warriors bring their lively brand of jam rock to Rivers Casino. Donovan and the band’s latest album is 2018’s We See Through It. They describe it by saying, “It illustrates the transformational power of music. Featuring ten songs that span genres and eras ̧ the sound of the new album blends the vintage rock sound of Zeppelin with the alternative folk of Mumford & Sons propelled by barreling drums.” Several songs from the album garnered good radio airplay. The group stays very active in the region. 9 p.m. Drum Bar, 777 Casino Dr., North Shore.

Tuesday, April 18

Singer-songwriter Natalie Merchant began her career with 10,000 Maniacs, one of the first bands to herald ‘90s alternative rock. The group released five studio albums with Merchant, plus a critically and commercially successful MTV Unplugged live album. Merchant followed her stint at 10,000 Maniacs with an equally successful solo career, beginning with the release of the 1995 album Tigerlily. A favorite on the adult-contemporary charts, Merchant had four Top 10 singles in a row from 1995 to 1998, with 1996’s “Wonder” peaking at no. 2 on the Adult Top 40 and no. 20 on the Hot 100. In 2003, she covered American and British folk songs for the album The House Carpenter’s Daughter. In 2010, she released Leave Your Sleep, a double album of songs adapted from 19th- and 20th-century poems pertaining to childhood. Merchant’s latest album, Keep Your Courage, will be released on April 14 and is her first new studio album since her 2014 self-titled album. She’s from not-far-away Jamestown, New York. Merchant’s Pittsburgh concert is at the Byham Theater. 7:30 p.m. 101 6th St., Cultural District. (E.C., R.H.)

Wednesday, April 19

Singer-songwriter Jill Sobule is returning to Pittsburgh’s Club Cafe over 20 years after recording her live DVD, Live in Pittsburgh, at the same venue. And also two years after recording her concert film F*ck7thGrade with City Theatre at Hazelwood Green (see our story and interview with Sobule). She will have plenty of new material to add to the set list since that 2003 recording—she’s released eight albums since then, including 2018’s Nostalgia Kills and five EPs. Her biggest commercial hit came from 1995’s self-titled album, featuring the singles “I Kissed A Girl” and “Supermodel,” which were featured on the Clueless movie soundtrack. Since then, Sobule’s sound has evolved into a narrative, folk-influenced style, which has won her a dedicated following. However, she can still rock hard when she chooses to. 8 p.m. 56-58 S. 12th St., South Side. (R.H.)

Jill Sobule.

Jill Sobule.


Saturday, April 22

Joe Grushecky and The Houserockers are very popular in every part of this region (and country) and this month they’ll be heatin’ up the ‘Burgh. Joe Grushecky’s latest album is 2018’s More Yesterdays Than Tomorrows. There is also a 25th Anniversary edition reissue of Grushecky and The Houserockers’ classic, American Babylon, which was produced by Bruce Springsteen. Grushecky and The Houserockers make an annual trip to Asbury Park, New Jersey, to play some concerts there. Hear Grushecky classics and newer tunes tonight at Rivers Casino. 9 p.m. 777 Casino Dr., North Shore. (R.H.)

Friday, April 28

The Wallflowers are of course led by Jakob Dylan, the talented son of the legendary Bob Dylan. The band has generated hits like “One Headlight,” “6th Avenue Heartache,” from their sophomore album Bringing Down the Horse  in 1996 and “Reboot the Mission” from their 2012 album, Glad All Over. After solo work and a continuing rotation of talent in The Wallflowers band, they are touring behind their latest album, 2021’s Exit Wounds. Dylan in an interview with American Songwriter, said of the album, “I was just also writing during a time when the world felt like it was falling apart. That changes the way you address even the simplest things, because you have panic in your mind all the time. You have anxiety. And you also have hope. And it’s all in there.” The Wallflowers will be joined at their Palace Theatre concert by special guest Jesse Malin. 8 p.m. 21 W. Otterman St. 

Saturday, April 29

Luke Combs was born in Charlotte, North Carolina; grew up in Asheville, and like many aspiring country musicians before him, sought his fame and fortune in Nashville. He found both. His debut album, 2017’s This One’s for You, spawned five No. 1 singles on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart. The album also set a record for most weeks for a male artist at No. 1 on the Top Country Albums chart with 47 weeks total. “Beer Never Broke My Heart,” the first single from his 2019 LP, What You See Is What You Get, also went to No. 1 on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart.  Combs is headlining his Growing Up World Tour which stops at Acrisure Stadium. At 33 years-old, Combs has garnered two Grammy Award nominations, two iHeart Radio music awards, four Academy of Country Music Awards and six Country Music Association Awards, including the prestigious Entertainer of the Year award in 2021 and 2022. His latest LP release is Gettin’ Old, which dropped last month. It contains 18 tracks and reached no. 4 on the Billboard 200 album chart. There’s even a cover of Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car.” Riley Green, Lainey Wilson, Flatland Cavalry, and Brent Cobb are also on the bill. 5:45 p.m. 100 Art Rooney Ave., North Shore. (C.M., R.H.)

Other Shows of Interest

Tuesday, April 4
Jukebox the Ghost (Thunderbird Cafe)

Thursday, April 6
Judah and the Lion (Stage AE)

Saturday, April 8
The Clarks (Crafthouse Stage & Grill)

Sunday, April 9
Caroline Rose (Mr. Smalls)

Friday, April 14 to Sunday, April 16
Punkapalooza (Moondog’s Pub)

Saturday, April 15
Chris Higbee (Rivers Casino)
Joywave (Mr. Smalls)

Monday, April 17
Nickel Creek (Byham Theater)

Tuesday, April 18
Max Leake (Liberty Magic)

Friday, April 21 and Saturday, April 22
Graham Nash (Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall)

Friday, April 21
Houndmouth/Chartreuse and Chandeliers/Oliver Hazard (Mr. Smalls)
Selwyn Birchwood (Moondog’s Pub)
Bill Henry Band (The Oaks Theater)

Friday, April 28
Father John Misty (Roxian Theatre)
Bacon Brothers Band (Jergel’s)

Saturday, April 29
Bush (Hollywood Casino at the Meadows)
Bill Toms and Hard Rain (Moondog’s Pub)

Sunday, April 30
Coheed and Cambria (Stage AE)


Big Shows on the Horizon

May 1
Billy Idol (UPMC Events Center)

May 12
Brooks & Dunn (PPG Paints Arena)

May 13
Lizzo (PPG Paints Arena)

May 17
Blink 182 (PPG Paints Arena)

May 22 to 23
John Mellencamp (Benedum Center)


Rick Handler is the executive producer of Entertainment Central.

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