Music’s A-Team

Classic rockers and new stars play NYC

Music's A-Team

Run don’t walk if you’re ready for warm weather in New York City! When it comes to music, there’s something for everyone this month, from classic rock to pop to singer-songwriters to rap and R&B. Country trio Lady Antebellum serve up their harmonies May 29 at Jones Beach, Icelandic folk-pop band Of Monsters and Men delight at Hammerstein Ballroom May 7 and R&B siren Ciara is expected to dance up a storm at Best Buy Theatre on May 5. If you are looking for a more intimate live music experience we’ve got you covered: alternative rock band 10,000 Maniacs are hitting the road playing City Winery on May 22 and 23. And finally Irving Plaza sounds like party central with a roster that includes house music newcomer Kiesza along with electro-pop singer Betty Who on May 4, Afro-beat duo Nico and Vinz May 19 and new wave royalty The B-52s on May 21. Here are New York City Monthly‘s other best and brightest acts hitting The Big Apple in May…

He’s the only three-time inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – Eric Clapton has been honored as a solo artist and as a member of The Yardbirds and Cream and he plays two nights at Madison Square Garden, May 1 and 2. With hits spanning the 1960s with the Yardbirds and Cream (to the 90s) and several other bands and collaborations in between, Clapton went off as a solo artist in the 70s and was instrumental in exposing reggae to the mainstream with his cover of Bob Marley’s “I Shot The Sheriff.” Fans and music lovers can bet on a night of hits like “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door,” “Lay Down Sally,” Wonderful Tonight,” “Cocaine,” career-defining songs “Tears In Heaven” and “Layla” and finally a couple of Clapton’s 90s tracks, “Change The World” and “My Father’s Eyes.” Eric Clapton’s shows will be memorable evenings of nostalgia, guitar solos and true music fans.

When you think classic rock, The Who are one of those bands that really made an impact with their own brand of hard rock and psychedelia. Half-time performers at Superbowl XLIV, Closing Ceremony act at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, over 100 million records sold worldwide, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, the band’s accolades go on and on. Having celebrated their 50th Anniversary in 2013 and now embarking this year on their final tour, the remaining members Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend command three venues this month: Nassau Coliseum on May 20, Barclays Center on May 26 and Forest Hills Stadium on May 30. The Who’s pop culture impact is bigger than they are, having played Woodstock and scoring rock opera/Broadway show/film “Tommy” with timeless songs like “Pinball Wizard,” and “See Me, Feel Me.”

Country music star Eric Church is five albums deep into his career, including a live album and he rocks Newark’s Prudential Center May 2. The North Carolina native is known for combining a hard rock sound with country storytelling which gained him a lot of critical praise when his record “Chief” won CMA Album of the Year in 2012. The “Springsteen” singer went on to win the same award at the ACM Awards in 2013. Church has collaborated with other country heavyweights like Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan and Keith Urban and he’s a seven-time Grammy Award nominee. Beyond the obvious guitar skills, the often bespectacled singer has an authenticity that breaks through on stage that is hair-raising, especially on ballads like “Give Me Back My Hometown.”

Harlem rapper, singer and songwriter Azealia Banks is a triple threat in her own right, an artist who provokes, surprises and entertains all at the same time. She studied at New York’s renowned Laguardia High School of Performing Arts before dropping out to focus on her music career, and this year released her debut album “Broke With Expensive Taste.” Banks plays her first tour with a stop at Irving Plaza May 11 coming off a couple dates at the wildly popular Coachella. Azealia Banks has a fearless approach that may remind many of Missy Elliott and Lil Kim, with the most promise for global stardom since Nicki Minaj. In 2011 and 2012, Banks made a name for herself with the bouncy “212” followed by “Liquorice,” both off her “1991” EP.

British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran has become one of the most beloved musicians of the past four years, due to his relatable songwriting, soulful vocals and focus on nothing but the music. May is an Ed Sheeran takeover for the New York area, with his presence radiating the stage on his “x Tour” starting with Forest Hills Stadium May 28 and 29, followed by May 30 at Newark’s Prudential Center and finally May 31 at Barclays Center. In 2011 Ed Sheeran broke through with the ubiquitous anthem “The A-Team” off his debut album “+,” which also spawned hits “Lego House” and “Small Bump.” In 2014 Sheeran adopted a lot more tempo in his music, but still kept the delicate ballads as part of his record “x,” with “Sing” and “Don’t” fulfilling the former, and “Thinking Out Loud,” serving the latter. With a career-making stamp of approval early on from Taylor Swift (he joined her 2013 tour), Grammy performances with Elton John, John Mayer, Questlove and Herbie Hancock, Sheeran has gone from A-Team to A-List. Ballads like “Photograph” and “Tenerife Sea” should be especially moving live. Listen up for some really beautiful falsetto from Ed Sheeran as well as some not-to-be-missed acoustic renditions on stage.

(Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com)