Toyota Center, May 26
Neil Diamond has been in the first rank of American entertainers since the '60s, both as a songwriter and an interpreter; not to mention someone who in concert generates the kind of electricity otherwise only seen in the likes of Elvis and Michael Jackson. Now 74, he represents a kind of showbiz icon that is all but extinct nowadays – a creature equally driven by the need for an audience's adoration and his own quest for artistic transcendence. Yet such a tall order comes easy to Diamond, and always has; he simply straps on a guitar, opens his mouth, and these perfect pop parables come pouring out in that unmistakably succulent baritone, song after song until the house lights come up.
Halestorm, The Pretty Reckless
Bayou Music Center, May 27
This double bill brings together the two fiercest singers on modern-rock radio, Halestorm's Lzzy Hale (no “i”) and the Pretty Reckless' Taylor Momsen, and two bands whose songs are the perfect marriage of self-loathing scream therapy and caution-to-the-wind catharsis. Not only are both Hale and Momsen's voices more than a match for their bands' big, burly riffs; they're also several degrees more melodic than their male post-grunge counterparts. Here's an easy challenge you can take on the way to the show: turn on 94.5 The Buzz in the car and see which band comes on first; the reverse will probably be true on the way home.
Jordan “Chili Sauce” Donald
Under the Volcano, May 27
Former member of the Joe Sample TSU Select Orchestra, singer and saxophonist Jordan Donald has been a "chili sauce" hot commodity since graduating last spring. He regularly jets to Los Angeles to play as a hired gun, but lately has been establishing himself in Houston with by leading a four-piece ensemble that includes Sample Orchestra veteran/New School graduate Britney Bloom on keyboards, Prince side player Josh Dunham on bass and Queen Cora Dunham (another Prince alum whose main gig these days is with Beyonce) on drums. With a repertoire ranging from Miles Davis to Marvin Gaye and Johnny “Guitar” Watson, the virtuosity these players bring to the proceeding is off the charts, and as funky and greasy as it gets. (WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH)
Jimmy Buffett & the Coral Reefer Band
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, May 28
It's time again for the near-annual gathering of the order of the Parrotheads (Houston-area chapter), a festive occasion distinguished by abundant tailgating, florid sub-tropical attire, beach-ball Olympics and a vibe so mellow it creates a buzz of its own, independent of anything else being inhaled or imbibed in the vicinity. The carnival of humanity attached to a Jimmy Buffett concert tends to overshadow the actual music, right up until the Coral Reefer Band fires up and the 68-year-old singer/lifestyle figurehead starts detailing those changes in latitudes and attitudes that inspire island dreams to aspiring beach bums of any age, color or creed. Stop over in Margaritaville once, and it can be a lifetime commitment.
Fitzgerald's, May 28
As brooding and majestic as any black-clad band to come out of the '80s, Empires closes the gap between vintage post-punk and contemporary indie groups like the National. Debuting with 2010 LP Bang, the Chicago foursome came into their own with last year's Orphans, enlisting Grammy-winning DFW producer John Congleton (St. Vincent, Explosions In the Sky) to craft a brisk, absorbing album marked by shimmering guitarscapes and front man Sean Van Vleet's elegantly wounded vocals. With Geographer and Idlehands.
Bayou Music Center, May 28
Denmark's Volbeat bring a slight outlaw-country aesthetic to Scandinavian death-metal, something that sounds like it shouldn't work but actually does quite well. What that means, mostly, is that they sound a little more like Johnny Cash or Social Distortion than Opeth (for example), but the real reason Volbeat is one of the most successful metal bands of the 2010s is their easily melodic songwriting that can channel naked yearning as quickly as blinding rage. Joining them on tour is Anthrax, the street-smart '80s thrash legends who welcomed back singer Joey Belladonna for his second stint with the band upon 2011's Worship Music, and were a big hit at Ohio's Rock On the Range festival earlier this month. With Crobot.