September 2023 Concert Guide: Skynyrd, Aerosmith, Clapton, Duran Duran, Stevie Nicks, Peter Gabriel, and Shinedown

Shinedown. (Photo: Sanjay Parikh)

Shinedown. (Photo: Sanjay Parikh)

This month is the greatest month in recent memory for classic rock fans. One could almost connect the dots between some of the top albums of the ’70s and ’80s. Lynyryd Skynyrd’s One More From the Road, to Aerosmith’s Toys in the Attic, to Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run, to Eric Clapton’s Slowhand. All are top releases from the 1970’s.  Stevie Nick’s Bella Donna, Duran Duran’s Seven and the Ragged Tiger were mega albums from the 1980’s. Peter Gabriel and Chic also enjoyed big success in those decades. If all this classic rock sounds good to you, you might think about renting a room near PPG Paints Arena. That is where the majority of these concerts are.

Another top group, Shinedown, will be performing at the Pavilion at Star Lake. The Jonas Brothers play PPG Paints Arena. Highly talented singer/songwriter Ray LaMontagne will be performing at the Benedum Center. Jam rockers moe. is in concert at the new Mountain View Amphitheater. And the Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival is happening once again in the August Wilson African American Cultural Center and Highmark Stadium and features top national and local talent.

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. Mike Vargo (M.V.) also contributed to this guide.

Spotlight Picks

 Sunday, September 3

Southern rock legend Lynyrd Skynyrd, famous for “Sweet Home Alabama,” “Free Bird,” “Gimme Back My Bullets,” and “That Smell“—among many other hits—is one of those classic classic rock bands, which have attained an extremely high place in the American rock canon. In 1969 they changed their name to Lynryd Skynrd in mocking tribute to their tough Jacksonville, Florida, high school gym teacher, Leonard Skinner. After much success the band tragically suffered extensive casualties including Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines, and Cassie Gaines who were taken too early by a plane crash in 1977. Still, in spite of losses and long hiatuses over the years, the group continues to rock arenas, amphitheaters, and ballparks nationwide. The last Skynyrd original member in the band, Gary Rossington, died in March. And again Skynyrd overcomes obstacles and continues to give audiences the beloved songs they want to hear. Ronnie Van Zant’s younger brother Johnny remains on lead vocals, and longtime member Rickey Medlocke continues to blaze on guitar. They both are surrounded by first rate players. They’re joined by special guest ZZ Top on their Sharp Dressed Simple Man Tour. ZZ Top is best known for their top tunes, “Sharp Dressed Man,” “Legs,” and “La Grange.”  Uncle Kracker is also on the bill. 6:30 p.m. Pavilion at Star Lake, 665 Rt. 18, Burgettstown.

Wednesday, September 6

Aerosmith was one of the biggest rock bands of the ’70s establishing their cred with raw power rock songs like “Walk This Way,” “Back in the Saddle,” and “Sweet Emotion.” The ’80s saw the group take on a slicker, yet still powerful sound. Their biggest hits from this era include: “Janie’s Got a Gun,” “Love in an Elevator,” “Dude (Looks Like a Lady),” “Angel,” and “Rag Doll.” They also garnered some major respect when Run DMC covered “Walk This Way” with both groups appearing in the video. Aerosmith is composed of longtime members Steven Tyler (lead vocals, harmonica, piano), Joe Perry (guitar), Tom Hamilton (bass), Joey Kramer (drums), and Brad Whitford (guitar). No American hard rock band has sold more albums than Aerosmith. The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001. Catch them while you can, as they are on their “Peace Out: The Farewell Tour.” 7 p.m. PPG Paints Arena, 1010 Fifth Ave., Uptown. (R.H.)

Friday, September 8

Eric Clapton, aka Slowhand, brings his classic rock, Stratocaster guitar-driven sound and catalog of top hits to PPG Paints Arena. A frequent and welcomed visitor to Pittsburgh over the years, Clapton is best known for the songs, “Cocaine,” “Layla,” “You Look Wonderful Tonight,” “Tears From Heaven” and “It’s In the Way That You Use It” (from the movie The Color of Money, starring Paul Newman and Tom Cruise). He’s been an integral part of several highly respected, seminal rock bands—The Yardbirds, Cream, and Derek and the Dominoes. Clapton was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and ranks second on Rolling Stone’s list of  100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. He also played the un-credited lead guitar part on the Beatle’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” Special guest is Jimmie Vaughn. 7:30 p.m. 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown. (R.H.)

Jacksonville, Florida alt-metal band Shinedown headlines a concert at The Pavilion at Star Lake. The group is riding high coming off a sold-out arena tour earlier this year and a top 20 Hot AC Radio hit with their song, “A Symptom of Being Human.” The song also hit #1 on SiriusXM’s The Pulse. Lead singer Brent Smith’s powerful, crystalline vocals shine through on “A Symptom of Being Human.” The song speaks to the fact that “we are all a work in progress and that it’s our differences, quirks, and struggles that make us human.” The band debuted with 2003’s Leave a Whisper, which was later rereleased to include a popular cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s (also from Jacksonville) “Simple Man.” Shinedown has the Billboard record for the most mainstream rock no. 1 hits ever, and they’ve achieved platinum or gold certification for all their albums. In 2021, for the Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart’s 40th Anniversary, Shinedown was ranked no. 1 Greatest of All Time Mainstreams Rock Artists. Shinedown’s latest album is last year’s Planet Zero. Opening are Papa Roach, and Spiritbox. 6:40 p.m. p.m. 665 Rt. 18, Burgettstown. (R.H.)

Saturday, September 9

“Please please tell me now, is there something I should know?” Well, yes there is something you should know—Duran Duran is finally playing a concert in Pittsburgh again. The English pop/funk supergroup ruled the airwaves and MTV in the 1980s. Hits like the above mentioned and others including: “Hungry Like the Wolf,” “Girls on Film,” “Rio,” “Wild Boys,” and “The Reflex.” The group is composed of Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes, John Taylor, and Roger Taylor. Guitarist Andy Taylor is also a longtime contributor to the band. Duran Duran have sold over 100 million records, garnering 30 top 40 singles in the UK Singles Chart (14 of them in the top 10) and 21 top 40 singles in the US Billboard Hot 100. They were inducted into the Rock and roll Hall of Fame in 2022 and played “Austin City Limits” that same year. Future Past is Duran Duran’s most recent LP and was released in 2021. Nile Rodgers and Chic were scheduled to play also, but cancelled recently to an event Rodgers had to attend. Bastille opens. 7 p.m. PPG Paints Arena, 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown. (R.H.)

Tuesday, September 12 & Wednesday, September 14 *Both Springsteen Concerts Will Be Rescheduled to November* 

The first song that I can remember hearing by multi-Grammy-award winner Bruce Springsteen was “Born to Run.” I loved the music and the lyrics! What I especially noticed was what sounded like tiny bells playing throughout the song. Only later did I learn this was the result of a glockenspiel played by the late E Street Band member Danny Federici. Other early favorites were “Backstreets” and “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out.” I then went on to ravenously enjoy every song on Darkness on the Edge of Town, which produced songs like “Prove It All Night,” and The River, which gave us “Out in the Street” and “Hungry Heart.” Not only is the music of these songs fantastic but the lyrics and the stories they tell are just as mesmerizing. The main members of the E Street Band are Bruce Springsteen, Garry Tallent, Roy Bittan, Max Weinberg, Steven Van Zandt, Nils Lofgren, and Springsteen’s wife, Patti Scialfa. Springsteen’s latest release is 2022’s Only the Strong Survive, it is an album of soul covers including The Commodores’ “Nightshift.”

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band have had continuing success over the years despite obstacles that included the devastating losses of saxophonist Clarence Clemons and Federici. However, like great champions, they’ve moved forward and found a new path. When the sum of great musical parts come together in a positive way—as with Springsteen and The E Street Band—magic happens. The revival begins at 7:30 p.m. PPG Paints Arena, 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown. (R.H.)

Wednesday, September 13

Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers are such a talented rock outfit that they could easily be one of our Spotlight Picks every month. What puts them back in the spotlight this month is that Grushecky’s pal and sometime collaborator, Bruce Springsteen, is in town for two shows. Each of Springsteen’s concerts bookmark Grushecky and the Houserockers’ gig at Hard Rock Cafe. Additionally, Grushecky has in the recent past reissued a 25th Anniversary edition reissue of Grushecky and The Houserockers’ classic, American Babylon, which was produced by Bruce Springsteen. So will Grushecky show up at PPG Paints Arena and play a song or two with Springsteen? Or will Springsteen show up at the Hard Rock Cafe and play a song or two with Grushecky. Other possible answers are all of the above and none of the above. Anyway, with or without Springsteen, Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers are always a fun band to see live. 7:30 p.m. 230 W. Station Square Drive, Station Square. (R.H.)

Singer-songwriter Ray LaMontagne has such a diverse and well-honed repertoire that you might think he came from a family of musicians or even a music school, but he’s got a gritty origin story. In the early 1990s he was a young man on the rural blue-collar track, working at a shoe factory in Maine. One morning his radio alarm lifted him out of slumber with a solo number by Stephen Stills, “Treetop Flyer.” Ray found himself spellbound. He called the moment his artistic awakening to a musical destiny. He immersed himself in listening to the modern American “classics,” from Dylan to Aretha Franklin. Then, while living in a cabin with no electricity, LaMontagne had to stop listening and start creating his own. Eventually he played local gigs … got discovered by higher-ups … and when his 2004 debut album Trouble earned combined major-label release in the U.S. and U.K., a new musical phenom emerged.  LaMontagne’s eighth and most recent studio album was 2020’s Monovision. For a sense of his stylistic range, compare “Broken Sky”—the A side on a recent 7-inch vinyl—with “Strong Enough” in the video up top. Ray LaMontagne and his trio now bring their Just Passing Through tour to Pittsburgh. 7:30 p.m. Benedum Center, 237 7th St., Cultural District. (M.V.) 

Thursday – Sunday, September 14 – 17. 

This year’s Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival proves, once again, that the term “jazz” covers a lot of territory. Guest artists and their music span a spectrum from the soulful ballads of Ledisi to the intricately stirring sounds of Samora Pinderhughes, the salsa rhythms of the Spanish Harlem Orchestra, and much more. The Festival was founded in 2011 by Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and is produced by the August Wilson African American Cultural Center. Janis Burley Wilson, the Center’s president and CEO, has directed the Festival since its inception. The 2023 edition is expanded from three to four days with a special Thursday night opening concert featuring Pinderhughes and the hypnotic vocalist Madison McFerrin. Along with the artists from out of town you’ll hear plenty of Pittsburgh-area musicians. Activities and events include jam sessions, parties, and—to risk repeating ourselves—much more. There’s so much on tap that you’d better tap the Festival homepage linked at the top of this preview for details and tickets. With support from presenting sponsor Citizens and others, concerts take place at two venues: the August Wilson Center, 980 Liberty Ave., Cultural District, and Highmark Stadium, 510 W. Station Square Dr., South Side. (M.V.)

Saturday, September 16

Feel the groove with Buffalo, New York jam band moe. at Mountain View Amphitheater. The quintet has opened for rock bands, such as the Allman Brothers Band and The Who. Headlining gigs include New Year’s Eve concerts at Radio City Music Hall in 2006 and 2007. With such an impressive tour history, moe. has gained a faithful following of “moe.rons” (their word) since the band’s 1989 formation. They are prolific in the studio too with 13 full-length albums released. Their discography contains the LP This Is Not, We Are and the EP Not Normal, both released in the arguably not-normal year of 2020. Pulling from rock, blues, and jazz, the band seems to enjoy the performances as much as its audiences. With many songs like “Rebubula” lasting over 10 minutes, you won’t want to forget your dancing shoes for this performance. 7:30 p.m. Mountain View Amphitheater, 10 Rich Hill Rd, Cheswick. (C.M., R.H.)

Saturday, September 23

If you wonder what Peter Gabriel is doing lately, here’s a chance to find out. Gabriel visits Pittsburgh on his i/o Tour, in connection with his upcoming and long-awaited studio album i/o. Gabriel’s previous album of original new material was Up, ‘way back in 2002, but in a career spanning over 50 years he’s been prolific on many fronts. From 1967 to 1975 he was a founding member and lead singer of the seminal progressive rock band Genesis. As a solo artist and producer since then he has stayed at the forefront of prog rock and world music. He has collaborated with musicians ranging from Laurie Anderson to Arcade Fire, composed soundtrack music for films from The Last Temptation of Christ to the Australian indie feature Rabbit-Proof Fence, and won wide recognition for his work with human rights organizations worldwide. Gabriel is known for his music videos, done by cutting-edge artists like Junie Lau and Oranguerillatan, who created the above video for the soon-to-be i/o track “The Court.” It’s easy to forget that Gabriel is a powerful live performer, too. Check out the video that intercuts scenes from various live performances of his anthem “Solsbury Hill” between 1987 and 2013. Peter Gabriel and his bandmates play in PPG Paints Arena at 8 p.m. 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown. (M.V.) 

Monday, September 25

Jonas Brothers bring their pop rock and handsome faces to Pittsburgh’s PPG Paints Arena. Brothers Kevin, Joe, and Nick got their start performing in their home state of New Jersey. After their second album in 2007, Disney came a-calling and they subsequently appeared in the Disney films Camp Rock and Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam. They then went on to star in two TV series on the Disney Channel, “Jonas Brothers: Living the Dream” and “Jonas.” After splitting over creative differences in 2013, the pop rockers re-formed as a group in 2019. Lately the Jonas Brothers have gone somewhat minimalist. Their latest studio album, released in May, is titled simply The Album. The current tour ambitiously features songs from five of their six studio albums to date. Opening act is Lawrence, the pop-soul band led by siblings Clyde and Gracie Lawrence.  7 p.m. 1001 Fifth Avenue, Uptown. (R.H., M.V.)

Wednesday, September 27

With the death of Fleetwood Mac’s Christine McVie last November, the status of the group is uncertain. Fleetwood Mac member and solo superstar, Stevie Nicks, has always gone her own way. Nick’s most recent album is 2014’s 24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault. Almost all of the album’s songs existed as demos that Nicks recorded between 1969 and 1987. Most were leaked on the internet. None, however, were finished. In 2014, Nicks went to Nashville, and in two weeks, she and some session musicians put the final, finishing touches on these songs. The album entered the Billboard 200 chart at no. 7, giving Nicks her sixth top 10 album on that chart. Her solo success first came with her first album release, 1981’s Bella Donna. 7 p.m. PPG Paints Arena, 1001 5th Ave., Uptown. (C.M., R.H.)

Other Shows of Interest

Friday, September 1
The Clarks (Kickoff and Rib Festival)

Sunday, September 3
Los Straitjackets (Club Cafe)
The Commonheart (Kickoff and Rib Festival)

Monday, September 4
Billy Price (Kickoff and Rib Festival)

Tuesday, September 5
Bone Thugs-N-Harmony (Stage AE)

Wednesday, September 6
Rival Sons (Roxian Theatre)
The Glorious Sons (Stage AE)

Friday, September 8
The Marshall Tucker Band (Jergel’s)

Saturday, September 9
f3ralcat (Greer Cabaret Theater)

Tuesday, September 12
Of Montreal (Mr. Smalls)
The Piano Guys (Benedum Center)

Wednesday, September 13
Bowling for Soup (Stage AE)

Thursday, September 14
Chris Botti (Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall)

Friday, September 15
Old Dominion (PPG Paints Arena)
Eric Johnson (Palace Theatre)

Saturday, September 16
Suicideboys (PPG Paints Arena)
Tegan and Sara (Roxian Theatre)

Sunday, September 17
The Haunt (Crafthouse Stage & Grill)

Tuesday, September 19
Toad the Wet Sprocket (Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall)

Thursday, September 21
Devon Gilfillian (Thunderbird Cafe & Music Hall)

Friday, September 22
Old 97’s (Mr. Smalls)
Justin Fabus (Rivers Casino)

Saturday, September 23
Bill Toms and Hard Rain

Monday, September 24
Drive by Truckers (Palace Theatre)

Tuesday, September 26
Cannibal Corpse and Mayhem (Stage AE)
Fit for a King, Devil Wears Prada (Roxian Theatre)

Wednesday, September 27
Bill Deasy (Jergel’s)

Thursday, September 28
Buddy Guy (Palace Theatre)

Friday, September 29
Nickleback (Star Lake)
The Wallflowers (Hollywood Casino at The Meadows)
Gino Vanelli (Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall)

Saturday, September 30
Brian Setzer (Palace Theatre)

Big Shows on the Horizon

October 3
Lana Del Rey (Star Lake)

October 7
A Boogie wit da Hoodie (Petersen Events Center)

October 13
Playboi Carti (PPG Paints Arena)

October 15
The Eagles (PPG Paints Arena)

October 21
Women Who Rock w/Ann Wilson (Stage AE)

October 28
Cole Swindell (UPMC Events Center)

Rick Handler is the executive producer of Entertainment Central.

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