March Concert Guide 2018: A Foreigner, Lights, Money, Motown, and Weird Al

Of Montreal performing in Athens, Georgia in 2005. Photo: Wikipedia.

Of Montreal performing in Athens, Georgia in 2005. Photo: Wikipedia.

After one of the wettest Februaries on record, hopefully it will be good weather for March concerts. There really aren’t any mega acts this month, but boy, there sure is a surplus of interesting music coming to Pittsburgh.

If you enjoy classic rock, Foreigner, Eddie Money, and Pat Benatar all have shows at The Palace. A double shot of Motown is on the bill when The Temptations and the Four Tops join for a concert at Heinz Hall. Other strong co-headliners are Lyle Lovett and Shawn Colvin, and Kristin Hersh and Grant-Lee Phillips.

Let us not forget that we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this month and we have some musical four-leaf clovers in the mix with the annual traditions of Celtic Woman and Mark Dignam’s Calm Before the Storm. On the cutting edge are acts like Lights and of Montreal. You can catch Kid Rock at PPG Paints Arena and for some comic relief, Weird Al Yankovic performs at The Palace. Also this month are rappers Insane Clown Posse and piano rocker Five for Fighting.

You can see hometown heroes Nevada Color and Working Breed, performing for the CureRock 2018 fundraiser at Hard Rock Cafe with Connecticut’s Alternate Routes. Elsewhere, little good bad (+-) debuts a new single and new video at South Side’s The Stage at Karma. Spring into some concert fun this month with music from our guide or from your own faves.

Entertainment Central Spotlighted Concerts

Wednesday, March 7

Singer-songwriter Lights paired music with graphic novels on her latest album, Skin & Earth, and its accompanying comic book series of the same name. Both the album and the comic books, which she wrote and illustrated, follow her alter-ego En, or Enaia, in a post-apocalyptic world controlled by a super corporation called Tempest. Purity Ring’s Corin Roddick and Twenty One Pilots drummer Josh Dun contribute to the music. Lights, born Valerie Anne Poxleitner, is based in Mission, British Columbia, Canada. As the daughter of missionary parents, she lived in many different countries growing up including Jamaica and the Philippines. She’s been making music since high school, and her early tours took her to American and Canadian cities around the Great Lakes. Her energetic electropop sound helped her garner a large fan base and the 2009 Juno Award for New Artist of the Year. Chase Atlantic and DCF open. 8 p.m. Mr. Smalls Theatre, 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. (CM)

Lights (Valerie Poxleitner) performing an acoustic set in Toronto at Sonic Boom record store in 2010. Photo: Shandi-lee Cox and Wikipedia.

Lights (Valerie Poxleitner) performing an acoustic set in Toronto at Sonic Boom record store in 2010. Photo: Shandi-lee Cox and Wikipedia.

Detroit’s Insane Clown Posse brings their hip hop act to Pittsburgh. The Posse is made up of  “wicked clown” personas Violent J (real name Joseph Bruce) and Shaggy 2 Dope (Joseph Utsler).  The Posse’s songs are based on the mythology of the Dark Carnival, a metaphoric limbo where one of several entities judge the lives of the deceased. A series of stories called Joker’s Cards, each one offering specific insights designed to change the listeners’ behavior from evil to good before the end, carries out The Dark Carnival. ICP’s latest release is Fearless Fred Fury and includes the songs “Cusswords” and “Hair Up.”  Followers of the band are called juggalos. Note: Don’t go if you’re afraid of clowns. Also on the bill is Atlanta metalcore band Attila. Openers are Sylar, Cage, Lil Toenail, Lyte, Ouijia, and Chronic Zombiez. 6:30 p.m. Rex Theater, 1602 E. Carson St., South Side. (RH)

Thursday, March 8

Veteran rockers Foreigner are famous for power ballads such as “I Want to Know What Love Is” and rockers like “Rev on the Red Line” and “Juke Box Hero.” Mick Jones is the only remaining original member of the band, which formed in 1976 and was composed of several Americans and several Brits (including Jones). The group had a major hit with its eponymous, five-times-platinum first album, released a year after they formed.  The hot singles “Feels Like the First Time” and “Cold As Ice” were from the album. Other top-selling albums followed including Double Vision (1978) and Head Games (1979). Lead singer Lou Gramm (a Yank), who co-wrote many of Foreigner’s hits with Jones, left the band for good in 2003. Their most recent studio album is 2009’s Can’t Slow Down. Foreigner is one of the world’s top-selling bands with over 80 million records sold. Jones and the band are frequent visitors to Pittsburgh and have a good following here. 8 p.m. Palace Theatre, 21 W. Otterman St., Greensburg. (RH)

Friday, March 9

Five for Fighting is one man: John Ondrasik. If you’re counting, he will perform with a string quartet at Carnegie Lecture Hall of Oakland. Ondrasik, a lifelong Los Angeles Kings fan, named his performance moniker after a hockey penalty. He’s known for singles like “Superman (It’s Not Easy),” from 2000’s America Town. The song provided catharsis to many listeners after the September 11 attacks. Five for Fighting performed it at The Concert for New York City. Other top 40 hits include “100 Years,” from 2004’s The Battle for Everything, and “The Riddle,” from 2006’s Two Lights. Ondrasik has also written or co-written music for artists such as Backstreet Boys (“Weird World”) and Josh Groban (“February Song”). His latest studio album is 2013’s Bookmarks. He released a live album, Christmas Under the Stars, in 2017. His philanthropic work includes donated compilation albums, featuring his and other musicians’ music, to United States troops as well as donations to such charities as Autism Speaks. Marie Miller opens. 8 p.m. 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland. (CM)

Saturday, March 10

Kid Rock’s rumored U.S. Senate run in Michigan, which included a website selling campaign merchandise, turned out to be a bunch of hoopla. Instead, Kid Rock, born Robert James Ritchie, released his 11th album, Sweet Southern Sugar in November 2017. Ritchie started releasing music in 1990 and broke into the mainstream as a rap-metal crossover artist with the single “Bawitdaba.” Its accompanying album, the 14-times-platinum Devil Without a Cause, was released in 1998. He has leaned more to the rock side of the scale ever since, focusing on Southern, country, and blues influences. 2008’s “All Summer Long,” which samples Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London” and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama,” was his first top-10 country hit. It appears on 2007’s Rock n Roll Jesus. The WWE used “Greatest Show on Earth,” one of the singles from Kid Rock’s latest album, for its “Survivor Series.” He will perform at the PPG Paints Arena. 7:30 p.m. 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown. (HM, CM)

Sunday, March 11

On a scale of 1 to 10, how much Motown do you want? You say 11? Try The Temptations and the Four Tops in concert together at Heinz Hall. They’re two of the great male vocal groups who recorded for Berry Gordy Jr.’s record-breaking, record-making company in the 1960s and ’70s. The Temptations joined Motown in 1961, but struggled to break through until their 1964 single “My Girl” went to no. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B charts. Then came a cavalcade of hits in evolving sounds and styles—from sweet ballads to rollicking turn-it-up numbers like “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” through psychedelic soul and social-message songs, capped by the remarkable “Papa Was a Rolling Stone.” Meanwhile, the Four Tops signed with Motown after semi-success on various other labels. They shot to big-time success with a series of riveting, rocking love songs: “Baby I Need Your Loving,” “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch),” “Reach Out I’ll Be There,” and more. Both of these Detroit groups are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and both still tour, with lineups that include founding members Otis Williams of The Temptations and Abdul “Duke” Fakir of the Four Tops. 7 p.m. 600 Penn Ave., Cultural District. (MV)

Friday, March 16

If you prefer a fun yet more dignified celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, then Club Cafe‘s seventh annual The Calm Before the Storm – A Night of Irish Traditional Music and Song with Mark Dignam & Friends might be the ticket for you. Mark Dignam was raised in Finglas, a North Side Dublin suburb, where he showed early aptitude as a singer. He moved to Dublin at 18 and began busking on Grafton Street. The Waterboys, Van Morrison, and Sinéad O’Connor have watched him perform. Dignam released his debut LP, Poetry and Songs from the Wheel, in 1995. He is now Pittsburgh-based and has appeared on KDKA’s “Pittsburgh Today Live.” He and his band, The House of Song, released Re-Build in 2014. Recent concerts include his 50th birthday celebration in January at The Funhouse at Mr. Smalls. On his Facebook page last year, he called The Calm Before the Storm “a beautiful, beautiful night,” when he gets to celebrate his culture “(properly) with some of my most cherished (talented, singers, musician and poet) friends.” The tradition continues. 8 p.m. 56 – 58 S. 12th St., South Side. (CM)

Saturday, March 17

Grant-Lee Phillips’s first solo release after leaving the group Grant Lee Buffalo, 2009’s Ladies Love Oracle, put him on the radar again and his follow-up album Mobilize made him a successful recording artist. On Mobilize, Phillips played every instrument and used a drum machine for every track except “Hugo’s Theme” and “Sunday Best,” where he enlisted other musicians. He even had a recurring part on The WB network’s TV series “The Gilmore Girls” as the town troubadour. Phillips proudly touts his Native American roots which include Creek, Blackfoot, and Cherokee lineage. Phillips’s latest release is 2016’s The Narrows, which examines themes of marriage, fatherhood, and moving from L.A. to Tennessee. He visits Club Cafe with co-headliner Kristin Hersh, lead singer/founding member of the art punk band Throwing Muses and alt rockers 50FOOTWAVE. 2016’s Wyatt at the Coyote Palace, released as a CD-and-hardcover-book combo, is Hersh’s most recent album. 8 p.m. 56-58 S. 12th St., South Side. (RH)

Sunday, March 18

Talented singer/songwriters Lyle Lovett and Shawn Colvin are in concert together at the Carnegie Music Hall of Oakland. Lovett crafts colorful songs, which tell compelling tales by fusing together many different musical genres, including country, swing, and jazz. He also has won four Grammy Awards: three in country categories and one in pop. Lovett attended Texas A&M University, where he met and befriended Robert Earl Keen, another accomplished Texan musician. Lovett released his self-titled debut album in 1986. His latest is 2012’s Release Me. Colvin is best known for her 1997 Grammy-winning single “Sunny Came Home,” from 1996’s A Few Small Repairs. The album was recently reissued for its 20th anniversary with bonus live tracks, liner notes, and more. Her latest release is this year’s The Starlighter, which adapts songs from Lullabies and Night Songs, a children’s music book written by composer Alec Wilder and illustrated by Maurice Sendak. Should be an evening of great songs and stories. 8 p.m. 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland. (RH, CM)

Friday, March 23

Classic rocker Eddie Money rolls into town for a show at Greensburg’s Palace Theatre. Money (née Mahoney) comes from a New York City Irish Catholic family with several members serving as police officers. Money was even a New York City Police officer trainee for a while and then, luckily for music lovers, decided to pursue his musical interests. He rose to fame in late 1978 with the hits “Two Tickets to Paradise” and “Baby Hold On.” Other top songs include ’79’s “Gimme Some Water,” with its blazing lead guitar runs and strongly sung narrative of an outlaw on the run, and ’80’s rumbling mystical tale “Trinidad.” He went on to more success and scored a big hit in 1986 when he recorded “Take Me Home Tonight,” a duet with the legendary (1960s) girl group singer Ronnie Spector. Money’s last album was 2007’s Wanna Go Back. He is currently starring in his own reality show on AXS TV called “Real Money.” It revolves around him, wife Laurie, their five kids, and eight pets. 7:30 p.m. 21 W. Otterman St., Greensburg. (RH)

Eddie Money

Eddie Money.

Saturday, March 24

“Weird Al” Yankovic returns to The Palace Theatre for the second time in three years. Last time, Yankovic was promoting 2014’s Mandatory Fun, his first number one album in a career which spans four decades of such satire. Tracks include “Tacky,” a lampoon of Pharrell Williams’s “Happy,” and “Foil,” his take on Lorde’s “Royals.” The tour boasted his usual stage antics, such as the fat suit that he wore in the video for “Fat,” a parody of Michael Jackson’s “Bad.” This time, he will perform an intimate show of originals, of which there are plenty of underrated nuggets from across his discography. “Genius in France,” which features Dweezil Zappa, is one. Another is “Sports Song,” which sounds like, well, every fight song that you’ve ever heard. And of course, from 1999’s Running with Scissors, there is the 11-minute-plus epic “Albuquerque.” This tour of completely original shows will be a performance first for Yankovic, who is calling it The Ridiculously Self-Indulgent, Ill-Advised Vanity Tour. Emo Philips opens—and The Palace show is already sold out, so check your fallback sources for tickets 8 p.m. 21 W. Otterman St., Greensburg. (CM)

Tuesday, March 27

Several weeks after the St. Patrick’s Day festivities, when we’ve recovered from our immersion in Irish culture, green beer, and whiskey, and are starting to long for some cheerful Celtic music, Celtic Woman are playing the Benedum Center. The multi-platinum-selling group of angelic-voiced women rose to fame on their vocal talents and quality production values. Many people learned of the group through their popular performance specials on PBS. Sharon Browne; David Downes, a former musical director of the long-running Irish stage show Riverdance; and David Kavangh created the ensemble. Members have changed over the years, and the current Celtic Woman lineup is Máiréad Carlin, Susan McFadden, Éabha McMahon, and Tara McNeill. The group is currently on its 14th anniversary tour, Homecoming. 7 p.m. 237 7th St., Cultural District. (RH)

Thursday, March 29

Frontman Kevin Barnes is the sole constant in of Montreal, a band with rotating members and a genre indefinable. He formed the group in 1996 in Athens, Georgia. They are part of the Elephant 6 Collective, which dates from 1991 and includes other great independent American bands, like Neutral Milk Hotel. Of Montreal count a range of fans. Pittsburgh-based Girl Talk sampled “Gronlandic Edit,” from 2007’s Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?, on his masterpiece Feed the Animals. El Pasado Es un Animal Grotesco, an experimental play by the Argentine writer Mariano Pensotti, translates to “The Past Is a Grotesque Animal,” another track on Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? Of Montreal’s latest LP is White Is Relic/Irrealis Mood, with a March 9 release. Writers such as Angela Davis and Ta-Nehisi Coates inspired the album as did extended dance mixes of ’80s pop songs. Mega Bog open. 8 p.m. Mr. Smalls Theatre, 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. (CM)

Friday, March 30

Pat Benatar, hot looking and hard rocking 1980s music icon, visits the area tonight with a concert at Greensburg’s Palace Theatre. Benatar, whose maiden name is Andrzejewski, is a mezzo-soprano singer who once considered attending Juilliard, but instead went to State University of New York at Stony Brook to study health education. She left after a year to pursue her musical dreams. She started her trademark early-career spandex look accidentally, after attending a Halloween party as a character from Cat Woman of the Moon and then performing on stage at a regular gig at Catch a Rising Star. She received a standing ovation, thanks in part to the spandex,  and decided to keep it. Benatar scored four Top 10 hits: “Hit Me with Your Best Shot,” “Invincible,” “Love Is a Battlefield,” and “We Belong.” She met her husband, guitarist/producer Neil Giraldo, in 1979 when he auditioned for her band. They will be performing together for an acoustic show. It’s a true rock and roll love story! 8 p.m. 21 W. Otterman St., Greensburg (RH)

Several Other Suggested Shows

Thursday, March 1

Jessica Lea Mayfield makes a stop at Club Cafe on her latest tour. Mayfield is a singer/songwriter whose music occupies a niche between country and rock with a slightly downbeat vocal style, which gives her a trademark sound. She’s a neighbor from our northwest, hailing from Kent, Ohio. Special guest is Mal Blum and the Blums. 8 p.m. Sold out. 56 – 58 S. 12th St., South Side. (RH)

Wednesday, March 7

Kyle Cook isn’t a household name, but his band, Matchbox Twenty, is. That’s his guitar on “3AM,” “If You’re Gone,” and numerous other songs. Cook and singer Sheila Marshall, performing as Rivers and Rust, released a self-titled EP in 2016. He comes to The Funhouse at Mr. Smalls for a solo show. Opening are special guests Matchbox 412, a Matchbox Twenty covers band who proudly give props to the ’Burgh’s area code. Doors open 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. (CM)

Saturday, March 10

Country rockers Montgomery Gentry rock on after the tragic death of founding duo member Troy Gentry in a helicopter crash last year. Eddie Montgomery is keeping his late partner’s name on the act, and he’s visiting Jergel’s Rhythm Grille with the band. (Eddie is the burly bearded guy in “What Do Ya Think About That.”) Montgomery Gentry’s style has been called workingman’s country, or patriotic country, or just in-your-face country. It has won them three platinum albums. 8 p.m. 285 Northgate Dr., Warrendale. (MV)

Sunday, March 11

Indie rock trio Lydia, from Gilbert, Arizona, are coming up north to The Funhouse at Mr. Smalls. 2015’s Run Wild was their last album, but be on the lookout for a new one this summer. Their sound contains electronic flourishes familiar to much indie music, but what sets them apart are the driving piano lines used in some of their songs. Soft Gondola opens. 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. (CM)

Monday, March 12

If you’re looking for some live (and loud) rock ‘n’ roll at an intimate venue, Screaming Females at Mr. Roboto Project is your ticket. The trio hails from New Brunswick, New Jersey. They released their seventh album, All At Once, in February. Touring honors include opening for The Dead Weather, a supergroup whose members include Alison Mosshart and Jack White, in 2009. Radiator Hospital and Maenads open. Doors open 7 p.m. 5106 Penn Ave., Bloomfield. (CM)

Saturday, March 17  

The Tampa Bay, Florida, area has some very talented blues guitarists, and one of those players—Selwyn Birchwood—is on the rise. He started playing at 13 and later met a neighbor—noted blues guitarist Sonny Rhodes—who taught him about blues guitar, lap steel guitar, and the business of running a band. Rhodes also insisted that Birchwood get a college education. He played in Rhodes’s band, took classes, and would even eventually earn an MBA from the University of Tampa. 2013 saw him winning the International Blues Challenge (IBC), and the next year he released Don’t Call No Ambulance on Alligator Records. Birchwood and his band won several major awards for the release. His latest album, Pick Your Poison, was released last May. Moondog’s. 8 p.m. 378 Freeport Rd., Blawnox.  (RH)

Tuesday, March 20

One of the most successful “American Idol” contestants who didn’t end up winning the competition, rocker Chris Daughtry and his eponymous band, is coming our way. After collaborating with the likes of Slash, Sevendust, and Santana, he has taken his act on the road since he was a finalist on the show in 2006. Reminiscent of ’90s grunge and rock, Daughtry’s sound is influenced by Creed, Live, and Stone Temple Pilots, among others. 7:30 p.m. Palace Theatre, 21 W. Otterman St., Greensburg. (EC, RH)

Friday, March 23

Squirrel Nut Zippers are back. The jazz band, which formed in 1993 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, has come up with its first studio album in 18 years, releasing Beasts of Burgundy this month. The Zippers come our way for concert at Jergel’s Rhythm Grille. Singer-songwriter Andrew Bird has collaborated with them on previous albums. 8 p.m. 285 Northgate Dr., Warrendale. (CM)

Saturday, March 24

On the title track of Alan Jackson’s new album, The Older I Get, he sings: “I’m just gettin’ to my best years yet.” That’s pretty scary when you consider that the 59-year-old country star already has more Grammys, CMA Awards, and ACM Awards than a fella could shake a stick at or would want to. Jackson is in the Country Music Hall of Fame, and he’s bringing his Honky Tonk Highway Tour to PPG Paints Arena. With special guest Randy Houser. 7:30 p.m. 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown. (MV)

Local trio little good bad (+ -) will play The Stage at Karma. The performance comes on the heels of the release of their new single,  “Black + White,” which they describe as “a high energy electro-rock song accompanied by an equally empowering music video displaying dramatic duality.” Singer Rachel B, drummer Billy Castle, and EDM producer Dinn Winnwood form the electro-pop triumvirate, who have also played Mr. Smalls, Diesel, and Thrival Music 2017. Red Room Effect and Xavier Wells also perform. 8:30 p.m. 1713 E. Carson St., South Side. (CM)

Tuesday, March 27

Chicago native Erik Hall is bringing his musical project, In Tall Buildings, to Club Cafe. In Tall Buildings’ experimental pop music draws from several different genres including alt-rock, indie folk, and electronica. Hall is a multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter, and recording engineer. In Tall Buildings’ latest album, Akenetic, will be released on March 2 on the Western Vinyl record label. 8 p.m. Special guest is Bananafish. Club Cafe, 56-58 s. 12th st., South Side. (RH)

Friday, March 30

CureRock 2018 lets concertgoers raise money to fight pediatric and adolescent cancer. The benefit show, now in its seventh year, features The Alternate Routes, Nevada Color, and Working Breed. The Alternate Routes are from Bridgeport, Connecticut, and their song “Nothing More” was used for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Nevada Color, an indie-pop band, and Working Breed, a solid rock group, are from Pittsburgh. Besides music, look out for a silent auction and 50/50 raffle. 8 p.m. Hard Rock Cafe, 230 W. Station Square Dr., Station Square. (CM)

Between the Buried and Me is known for progressive, spiritually inspired metal with death-metal overtones. Formed in 2000 by lead vocalist Tommy Giles Rogers, Jr. and guitarist Paul Waggoner, the Raleigh, North Carolina quintet scored big with 2015’s Coma Ecliptic, which shot to no. 1 on Billboard’s Hard Rock, Top Rock, and Tastemaker charts. Their new album is the March 9 release Automata I. Between the Buried and Me visits Mr. Smalls with special guests The Dear Hunter and Leprous. 7 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. (MV)

Rick Handler is the executive producer of Entertainment Central. Writer/editors Christopher Maggio and Mike Vargo also contributed to this guide.