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Summerfest: Saturday, June 26

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers w/ ZZ Top, Cage the Elephant and Uriah Heep

Jun. 10, 2010
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Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers w/ ZZ Top

Marcus Amphitheater, 7:30 p.m.

For those who like their rock fast and furious and grounded in American roots, this is the show to see.

It was 34 years ago that Tom Petty formed his band, the Heartbreakers, and the group continues to wow on the road. The parade of hits is endless, whether it’s the early work like “Breakdown” and “American Girl,” the psychedelic sounds of “Don’t Come Around Here No More” (co-written and produced by Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart), the solid rock of Petty’s 2002 record, The Last DJ, a bitter attack on the music industry, or his new album Mojo, which makes time for longer, bluesy jams.

Special guests ZZ Top merit special recognition on many levels, musically as well as personally. These three guys—Billy Gibbons (vocals and guitar), Joseph Dusty Hill (vocals, bass and keyboards) and Frank Beard (drums)—have stuck it out together for 41 years and helped to shape and define the Southern boogie blues-rock sound. Their music jumped up the charts with their 1973 release, Tres Hombres,and the catchy, infectious guitar hooks of “La Grange.” Seventeen albums with as many hits have followed since then, with a new studio album planned for 2010 to coincide with their world tour.

And, yes indeed, they still wear their sunglasses at night. (Harry Cherkinian)

Cage the Elephant

U.S. Cellular Connection Stage, 10 p.m.


Cage the Elephant took its name from the Hindu religion’s symbol of the elephant as goodness and positive energy. They liked the idea of being able to channel or “cage” that energy. It’s a mantra that has proven successful for this fivesome from Bowling Green, Ky., as they make good use of their explosive, frenetic energy. Just try defining the band’s musical styles: It runs the gamut from punk to funk, blues to straight-out rock.  You can hear the early Beck influences in the band’s first hit, “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked,” though not necessarily in the droning guitar grooves of “Back Against the Wall.” Each tune off the group’s self-titled 2008 debut album brings a different sound, a different approach, all of it as aggressive and wild as, well, a herd of stampeding you-know-whats.

Brothers Brad and Matthew Schultz handle vocals and guitar while Lincoln Parish (lead guitar), Daniel Tichenor (bass, backing vocals) and Jared Champion (drums, percussion) round out the rest of the Elephant. Although the brothers Schultz grew up in a strict religious environment in the South, they hate comparison to that other Southern band of brothers (and one cousin) with a similar strict upbringing. ’Nuff said.

Cage the Elephant actually made its name on the British shores before returning to the states, where they have twice played Lollapalooza and Bonaroo. Expect to hear new tunes in advance of their second release later this year. So here’s a chance to hear the band before they play the really big arenas, (you know, like that other band we won’t mention). (Harry Cherkinian)

Uriah Heep

M&I Classic Rock Stage, 10 p.m.


Most of the artists headlining the M&I Classic Rock Stage this year don’t have new albums to promote, but Uriah Heep has released two records in two years. Wake the Sleeper, Heep’s critically acclaimed first studio album in a decade, introduced this classic British band to a new generation in 2008. And Celebration: Forty Years of Rock —an anniversary collection of 12 re-recorded classics (plus two new songs) featuring the current lineup—hit U.S. shores in March.

Original guitarist Mick Box anchors the 2010 version of Heep, with longtime vocalist Bernie Shaw, bassist Trevor Bolder, keyboardist Phil Lanzon and new drummer Russell Gilbrook rounding out a lineup fortunate enough to be carrying on the name.

After releasing the underappreciated Sonic Origami to industry indifference in 1998, Uriah Heep almost wound up on the rock-history heap. “In a nutshell, the record company we were signed with at the time stiffed us,” Shaw says. “We did a huge world tour to promote the album, only to find that in most places copies weren’t even in the shops. We got a bit demoralized at that point.”

Eventually, though, Heep’s spirits lifted. “It seems the more we play, the more we are attracting younger crowds,” Shaw says. “I think it has to do with the resurgence of classic rock around theworld. It’s good to see members of the younger generation wanting to find out who influenced their favorite bands. And there are not too many of us left, still pumping out the good-old hard rock with melody.” (Michael Popke)


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