Fleetwood Mac Toyota Center, December 15
Fleetwood Mac will be playing a very special show in Houston on Monday night, because it will be Christine McVie first performance with the group here since at least the '90s. For many younger fans, this is their first opportunity to see the band's full classic lineup performing together. And those younger fans? Well, there's a lot of them -- maybe more than ever. Against all odds, Fleetwood Mac has gone from a classic-rock band relegated to bargain bins to a thriving, still-relevant enterprise.
Monday night's show will be a celebration of that fact; and Monday morning (10 a.m.) tickets go on sale for their return on the second leg of the "On With the Show" tour, scheduled for March 3 at the very same arena. COREY DEITERMAN
Elle Varner House of Blues, December 15
Elle Varner gives great "over it." On this summer's "Don't Wanna Dance" (featuring A$AP Ferg) and her self-explanatory new single "Fuck It All," the L.A. native sings with an up-to-here edge that usually takes many more years than 25 to acquire, as well as the old-soul wisdom of a second-generation musician who cites Ella Fitzgerald as an inspiration. But she has a playful side, too; Varner's 2012 breakout single was "Only Want to Give It to You," a playful duet with rapper J. Cole. CHRIS GRAY
Paul Ramirez Band Continental Club, December 17
Versatile Houston blues-rockers the Paul Ramirez Band's sets are mellow enough for a late-night lounge vibe, only pocked with heavier, Cream-like moments of pure jam and sometimes a cover of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick In the Wall, Part 2" that heads straight to the planetarium.
In progress is a followup to Sex With a Dragon, their 2012 debut featuring Santana-esque highlight "Gypsy Woman" where Ramirez and company balance a keyboard-heavy Latin-jazz groove with their leader's probing guitar solos, some of which can get pretty far out there. CHRIS GRAY
More shows on the next page.
Cheap Trick House of Blues, December 17
Cheap Trick's Facebook timeline plays out like a real-life rock and roll fantasy camp. Here's guitarist Rick Nielsen joining the Foo Fighters on Letterman; there's the band sailing away on the latest KISS Kruise; opening for Zac Brown Band at Wrigley Field; or appearing alongside Social Distortion, Weezer and the Cure at Chicago's Riotfest 2014.
Soon they'll be off to Australia with Billy Idol, and back at Wrigley with the Foos next summer. Surprise surprise, they're hosting an actual fantasy camp next March in Vegas, but why wait when House of Blues is such close quarters Nielsen and his mates may as well be in your living room? CHRIS GRAY
The Lotus Effect Fitzgerald's, December 18
Between NASA, several universities, and all those megachurches and petrochemical plants, Houston has its fair share of brainy people with some pretty weird ideas. Likewise, local bands have often reaped the benefits of melding sci-fi themes with headbanging style, a concept sometimes known as "progressive metal." A generation ago it was King's X and Atomic Opera, but in 2014 look no further than HMPA alumni Lotus Effect (Best Rock Act, 2010).
Nearly a decade after appearing on the scene, in October the Effect released their full-length debut LP, Totality, which prompted our friends over at Space City Rock to offer this one-word summation: "Wow." CHRIS GRAY
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