After two years of COVID-related tour delays and rescheduled concerts, 2022 looked to be a banner year for big-name live music in Indianapolis.
At the halfway point, the city has already seen a handful of A-list sellout concerts, from Morgan Wallen to Stevie Nicks, Justin Bieber to Elton John.
But did they deliver?
IndyStar has attended and reviewed about 20 large concerts and events, from one-off shows to the return of the Snake Pit at the Indianapolis 500 and birth of a new and hopefully annual music festival.
This is only a sampling of the live music offered in the area, of course, but here are the best and worst shows we’ve seen so far in 2022.
More:Eagles concert electrifies Indianapolis crowd during 3-hour odyssey
The Eagles were the first concert I saw in Indianapolis, as well as the first show of any kind I had seen since the pandemic broke out. And they have thus far been the best.
They opened with their signature album, front-to-back and accompanied by local orchestral musicians and choral singers, then closed with a greatest hits set that stretched to the three-hour mark – playing “every song they know,” as drummer and lead singer Don Henley put it.
You can’t beat that.
More:Lumineers, Caamp bring quality arena-folk show to Ruoff Music Center in Noblesville
They may not be the biggest name blowing through town this year, but I could not find fault with a single aspect of The Lumineers’ performance.
The group veered between the softer, one-or-two-person acoustic stuff to full band rock with great success. Wesley Schultz’s voice was amazing throughout. Hits, album cuts and covers were equally well-received. No notes.
Perhaps the year’s most anticipated show was a heartfelt trip down memory lane for Elton and company, who bid the city and state goodbye with hits, stories and colorful staging and costumes.
Unfortunately, the show’s 29-month delay contributed to some major ticketing issues. And there were a few moments in which the energy on stage lagged, but I left my first and likely last Elton John concert happy.
More:REO Speedwagon, Styx bring ‘Midwestern, meat and potatoes’ rock ‘n’ roll to Ruoff
It’s been a month, but I still can’t stop raving about Styx’s performance at Ruoff.
As I noted in the review, I’ve now seen Styx twice, 13 years apart. Both shows were decades after the band’s supposed heyday in the ‘80s, but both were astounding. “Blue Collar Man” live is an out-of-body experience.
More:Hollow jams bog down lifeless Dead & Company show at Ruoff Music Center
I was not a fan of the Grateful Dead/John Mayer collaboration at Ruoff last month. Everything just seemed to clash, often mid-song, and I left without any distinct positive memories of the show.
Several readers reached out after the review, and the verdict was split down the middle. Those who disagreed with me generally tended to say it was a great show if you were a fan of Grateful Dead or the current iteration, and since I am admittedly not, I had no business being there.
It’s a fair point, but I haven’t been a fan of probably 15 or more of the acts I’ve reviewed this year. And there are only two on the worst list.
More:Musicianship, charisma struggle to carry weak vocals at Bon Jovi’s Indianapolis stop
I enjoyed parts of Bon Jovi’s April concert at Gainbridge Fieldhouse, but the vocals were not on point. Jon Bon Jovi’s voice issues have since become a national story, with similar critiques popping up all over the country.
I won’t belabor it any further than this: It was a decent sing-along night, but the lead singer and band namesake wasn’t quite up to par, so the show suffered.
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Rory Appleton is the pop culture reporter at IndyStar. Contact him at 317-552-9044 and email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter at @RoryDoesPhonics.