Apr 24

Infinite Energy Arena to host legendary rockers this summer


By: Jon Gallo

Published: April 23, 2017

Ronald Regan was in the White House, “Die Hard” and “Rain Man” ruled the box office, “The Cosby Show” and “L.A. Law” were must-see TV and less than 325,000 residents called Gwinnett County home.

So much has changed since 1988, except when it comes to summer concerts, as five acts who were touring nearly three decades ago — Daryl Hall & John Oates, James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt, New Kids on the Block, Paula Abdul and Roger Waters — will all stop at Infinite Energy Arena, which wasn’t even around then.

But within a little more than a month span, Hall & Oates (June 11), James Taylor with Bonnie Raitt (July 11), New Kids on the Block with Paula Abdul and Boyz II Men (July 14) and Roger Waters (July 16) will all rock Gwinnett County, belting out the hits they rode to fame in the 1980s.

Hall & Oates — the No. 1 selling duo in music history — are headlining a show with international multi-platinum selling band Tears for Fears on a 29-city North American tour. Allen Stone will open the show.

“Performing with Tears For Fears will be an exciting and musical experience for me and all the fans,” Oates, who sings and plays the guitar and bass, said.

Hall, who sings and plays the guitar and keyboard, and Oates recorded their first record together in 1972 and haven’t stopped playing since — cranking out 18 studio records that included six hits that landed atop the Billboard Hot 100: “Rich Girl,” “Kiss on My List,” “Private Eyes,” “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do),” “Maneater” and “Out of Touch.”

Their ability to seamlessly blend soul, rock and pop enabled them to become arguably the greatest duo in music history. Though Hall, 70, and Oates, 68, are not as popular now as they were during the height of their careers when they cranked out 29 Top 40 hits from 1976 to 1990, they remain legends.

James Taylor, 69, and Bonnie Raitt, 67, who both have been inducted into the Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame, have also endured time. Taylor has combined his baritone voice and distinctive guitar playing for more than four decades. He has sold more than 100 million albums, earning gold, platinum and multi-platinum awards for classics such as “Sweet Baby James” in 1970 to “October Road” in 2002. In 2015, Taylor released “Before This World,” his first new studio album in 13 years, which earned him his first No. 1 album.

In 2012, Taylor was awarded the distinguished Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government and the National Medal of Arts by then-President Barack Obama in a White House ceremony. In 2015, Taylor was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor before receiving the Kennedy Center Honors, which are presented annually to individuals who have enriched American culture by distinguished achievement in the performing arts, a year later.

Raitt, who is regarded by Rolling Stone as one of the 100 greatest singers and guitarists of all time, shot to stardom in the late 1980s and early 1990s with Grammy-winning albums “Nick of Time” and “Luck of the Draw,” which featured hits like “Something To Talk About” and “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” The 10-time Grammy winner released her 17th full-length studio album, “Dig in Deep,” to critical acclaim in 2016.

However, no throwback to the late 1980s and early 1990s could be complete without New Kids on the Block. The boy band composed of Jordan Knight, Jonathan Knight, Donnie Wahlberg, Joey McIntyre and Danny Wood was created in 1984. But it skyrocketed in popularity in 1988 with the hit song “You Got It (The Right Stuff).” The band’s first chart-topping song was followed by “Hangin’ Tough,” “‘I’ll Be Loving You (Forever)” and “Step By Step.”

NKOTB headlines what’s being billed as “The Total Package Tour,” which features Paula Abdul, 54, and Boyz II Men, who like NKOTB, are all in their 40s.

“Our fans know we love to bring them a party, and this tour is no exception,” said Wahlberg, 47. “It’s not just a show, it’s an experience. Paula Abdul is such a pop icon and Boyz II Men are one of the best R&B acts of all time. It’s going to be a night of hit after hit, and we can’t wait to deliver the ‘Total Package’ to our fans!”

NKOTB has been no stranger to touring in recent years, but this summer marks Abdul’s first tour in a quarter century. Abdul took time off to focus on her career as an actress and a judge on the hugely popular “American Idol” TV show but was one of the biggest names in music three decades ago, when she had seven No. 1 hit singles, including “Straight U,” “Cold Hearted, “Forever Your Girl,” “The Promise of a New Day,” “Rush, Rush” and “Opposites Attract.”

Four-time Grammy-winners Boyz II Men, who joined NKOTB and 98 Degrees on “The Package Tour” in 2013, is the best-selling R&B group of all time and has been cranking out hits for 25 years, including “Motownphiily,” “I’ll Make Love to You,” “End of the Road” and “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday.”

Waters, the 73-year-old former front man for the legendary band Pink Floyd, brings his “Us + Them” tour to coincide with his yet to be released “Is This The Life We Really Want?” album that’s expected to be out this summer.

The tour, which is named after the song on Pink Floyd’s 1973 album “The Dark Side of the Moon,” marks Waters’ first tour since “The Wall Live.” The worldwide tour, which ran from 2010-13, paid homage to Pink Floyd’s transcendent 1979 album “The Wall.” The tour grossed more than $458 million, a record for a solo artist.

“Us + Them” will treat audiences to a new audio-visual presentation of material from Waters’ tenure with Pink Floyd, as well the debut of songs from his first studio album since 1992’s “Amused to Death.”

“The tour is called ‘Us + Them’ because it is about reaching out, holding hands and understanding — particularly understanding the simple things I have been saying for the last 40 or 50 (expletive) years, which is ‘Building walls is not the answer,’” he told Rolling Stone. “It is particularly appropriate now that we’ve got this lunatic who talks about nothing else, about national exceptionalism — all the things that can be used to destroy all life as we know it.”