Reviews: Van Halen, Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga, Deftones, Toby Keith, Billy Joel & More

Experts on analyzing concert performances give you their 2 cents on Van Halen in Pittsburgh; Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga in Atlanta; Deftones in Columbus, Ohio; Toby Keith in Salt Lake City; Billy Joel in Baltimore and Sam Smith in Cleveland.

Van Halen @ First Niagara Pavilion in Burgettstown, Pa., near Pittsburgh, July 28 – “It’s hard to expect a band to sound anything like it did 35 years ago, but vintage Van Halen was certainly present in ‘Everybody Wants Some!!’ Roth’s voice, which has been heavily criticized since the tour started, was at its finest at some of the song’s highest notes.” – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/ Julian Routh

Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga @ Chastain Park Amphitheatre in Atlanta, Ga., July 29 – “The always-old-school-dapper Bennett – who, unbelievably, turns 89 next week – seemed invigorated by Gaga’s playfulness. She, meanwhile, clearly relishes the jolt of authenticity this pairing gives her career. Then again, anyone who has paid enough attention to her to look beyond the façade knows her capabilities as a vocalist.” – The Atlanta-Journal Constitution/Melissa Ruggieri

Deftones @ The LC Pavilion (Lifestyle Communities Pavilion) in Columbus, Ohio, July 28 – “Lead singer Chino Moreno may not throw his body around with the abandon of youth, but his energy and his vocals are none the worse for the wear.” – Keefe

Toby Keith @ Usana Amphitheatre in Salt Lake City – “Kicking off an evening filled with Toby hits, he literally lit up the stage with one of his opening songs, “Made in America,” that was set to a backdrop of impressive pyrotechnics, reminding audience members of the patriotic, down-home, even rowdy country fun Toby embodies in his songwriting and his stage performances.” – Daily Herald/Jennifer Durrant

Billy Joel @ M&T Stadium in Baltimore, July 25 – “This was an easy-listening sing-along, a karaoke junkie’s dream. The depth of Joel’s catalog even became a segment the singer returned to a few times. He offered the crowd choices: ‘Summer, Highland Falls’ or ‘Vienna’? ‘Zanzibar’ or ‘Hollywood’? ‘Keeping the Faith’ or ‘The Longest Time’? Each time, the crowd cheered louder for the second option, and Joel – along with his eight-person backing band – obliged with faithful renditions of songs from decades past.” – Baltimore Sun/Wesley Case

Photo: Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP
Billy Joel at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md.

Sam Smith @ Wolstein Center in Cleveland, July 27 – “As beautiful as Smith’s voice is, hearing the songs live – and the stories about them – gives added depth to them, and to him.” – The Plain Dealer/Chuck Yarborough