We're spoiled. A huge number of tours visit Dallas and its surrounding cities every year. It's a difficult task to choose the 10 best, but some were special for sheer star power, for the rarity of an artist's appearance or because a show offered some other surprise. No all-local shows are on the list, but even acts like Bruno Mars and Jay-Z were bested by their contemporaries.
In the case of double bills, one headliner's lacking performance sometimes brought down the other's servicable one. This year, Mariah Carey hampered Lionel Richie, and Nas was a little too reserved for touring partner Lauryn Hill.
10. At The Drive In, secret show
March 14 at Club Dada
File this show under unique occurrences. Before the on-again, off-again band embarked on a tour in support of its now-released album in•ter al•ia, At The Drive In played a “secret” show at Club Dada, a much smaller venue than the ones it headlined for the rest of its tour. When the band eventually returned for its official June 12 tour date, it was at the South Side Ballroom, which holds several thousand people, compared with Dada’s estimated 400-person capacity. Intimacy aside, the band delivered a stunningly sharp performance given that it was technically a warm-up show for SXSW.
9. U2, The Joshua Tree Tour
May 26 at AT&T Stadium
This tour served as a 30th anniversary celebration for U2’s seminal Joshua Tree album, but as our Jesus Jimenez reported, the music felt as relevant in May as it did in 1987, a time when the U.S. was politically divided under President Ronald Reagan’s administration. We're facing many of the same sociopolitical issues alluded to on the album, and U2's visuals at AT&T Stadium struck a chord with the audience members, who were reportedly moved to tears throughout the show.
8. Hans Zimmer, Hans Zimmer Revealed
July 13 at Verizon Theatre
Oscar-winning composer Hans Zimmer toured the United States for the first time in 2017, and his DFW stop at Verizon Theatre was nothing short of extraordinary. The film composer brought with him an orchestra of longtime collaborators who worked on award-wining scores from The Dark Knight, Inception, The Lion King, Gladiator and more. In an interview with the Observer, Zimmer said he suffers from stage fright, but he seemed comfortable onstage by the time he reached Grand Prairie. He offered anecdotes about how he wrote some of his most famous pieces and introduced the audience to friends he’s been collaborating with for years in his orchestra.
7. Roger Waters, Us + Them Tour
July 3 at American Airlines Center
Roger Waters led the class for most-anticipated shows of 2017, not only because of his iconic catalog with Pink Floyd but also because the 73-year-old had teased news of a tour and new album since 2016. He finally delivered on both. (Is This the Life We Really Want? came out in June.) Similar to U2’s performance this year, the show was very political, with numerous references to President Donald Trump and the GOP.
6. Metallica, WorldWired Tour 2017
June 16 at AT&T Stadium
When one of the biggest bands in the world plays one of the most state-of-the-art arenas in the country, expectations pile high. Fortunately, more than 60,000 people in attendance walked away satisfied (or should have) as the legendary metal act rolled through its lengthy catalog, hitting callbacks from albums such as Master of Puppets, Ride The Lightning, … And Justice For All and Black before sifting through the newest material, 2017’s Hardwired ... to Self-Destruct. Metallica delivering the hits with enthusiasm is enough to be happy about, but couple that with pyrotechnics and cannon blasts, and it was hard to find fault with this performance.
5. The Weeknd, Starboy: Legend of the Fall 2017 World Tour
May 4 at American Airlines Center
The Weeknd’s Starboy: Legend of the Fall 2017 World Tour was another highly anticipated concert, and Abel Tesfaye delivered a spectacular show in support of his album of the same name. The Weeknd’s fan base is split, so this wasn't an easy task. Half like his new pop sound. The other half, with him since day one, helped to make 2011’s House of Balloons one of the most talked about mixtapes of the decade. The night wasn’t all about Tesfaye, though. The lineup was stacked with other huge names, such as party starters Rae Sremmurd and R&B up-and-comers 6lack and Belly. We haven’t even mentioned the starship stage setup designed by Es Dolvin, who’s created elaborate stages for Kanye West, U2 and Lady Gaga.
4. Lady Gaga, Joanne World Tour
Dec. 8 at American Airlines Center
Arena shows have grown into extravagant spectacles in recent years. It’s not enough to bring in a giant stage and add a few pyrotechnics. Tours are more complex and choreographed than ever, and it’s no surprise that pop icon Lady Gaga delivered something special. Observer reviewer Alaena Hostetter wrote that stepping into Gaga’s world for her Joanne World Tour felt like stepping into Alice’s Wonderland. The show had crazy visuals, mini-films and an elaborate stage setup that spanned the floor of the AAC. Gaga also made time to interact with fans and dedicate ballads.
3. LCD Soundsystem, world tour
Oct. 30 at Bomb Factory
When LCD Soundsystem played Bomb Factory in October, it had been seven years since the James Murphy-fronted act played Dallas. (The band retired in 2011 but reunited last year.) The Dallas stop on LCD Soundsystem's world tour in support of its new album, American Dream, was sold out, and the group played like a superfan's dream. According to the Observer's Caroline North, Murphy’s voice sounded silky smooth, and the band offered hits and maintained its tongue-in-cheek persona through the planned encore.
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2. Cuco, Imma Miss My Dogs Tour
Oct. 24 at Trees
After it sold out, Cuco’s tour was moved from RBC to Trees, where it promptly sold out again. The frenzy at the 18-year-old Los Angeles-based artist's concert was of the kind typically reserved for boy bands or pop idols, and that seems to be the trajectory Omar Banos is on with his synth ballads. It's hard for up-and-coming acts to compete with arena shows, but a number of mid-tier acts that visited Dallas this year, such as Cuco, Daniel Caesar, Noname, SZA and Thundercat, are worthy of recognition.
1. Kendrick Lamar, The Damn. Tour
July 14 at American Airlines Center
2017 belongs to Kendrick Lamar. The reigning king of hip-hop wowed fans and anyone within earshot with the release of his fourth studio album, Damn., which featured impactful megahits such as “Humble,” “Love,” “DNA” and “Loyalty.” But for his world tour in support of the album, Lamar delivered a theatrical and compelling performance of his wide-ranging catalog that solidified the artist’s place at the top of the genre.
Reviewer Jonathan Patrick reported that Lamar had a minimal stage floor and worked hard to make the at-capacity arena feel intimate. The show was well thought out and choreographed, and the opening lineup featured Travis Scott, who flew around the venue on an animatronic bird.