Music

Houston Concert Watch 9/28: Mary J. Blige, Smashing Pumpkins, and More

Mary J. Blige, "The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul," will be at Toyota Center on Saturday.  Also on tap this week are shows by Robert Cray, Marty Stuart, The Cult, Smashing Pumpkins, and Jane's Addiction.
Mary J. Blige, "The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul," will be at Toyota Center on Saturday. Also on tap this week are shows by Robert Cray, Marty Stuart, The Cult, Smashing Pumpkins, and Jane's Addiction. Photo by Eva Rinaldi. Creative Commons.
As we count down to the end of baseball season, one thing is certain: the Astros are the AL West champs. What we don’t know exactly is who they will have to beat to win their next World Series. By clinching their division championship, the Astros have earned a bye in the first round of the newly-formatted (i.e. now a total of 12 teams will qualify) playoffs, so we can sit back, see how things shake out, and catch some great shows in the meantime.
Fans of badass plank spanking will be at the Heights Theater this week, with back-to-back shows featuring some incredible blues and country picking. On Thursday, Robert Cray and his band will play their style of blues: traditional on the whole, but with a contemporary slant. Then on Friday, Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives (is that a great name or what?) take the stage for some serious twang. You can’t go wrong with either show, but why not hit both? As they say, “More is more.”
After several years of treading water, The Cult made a big splash in the late ‘80s with the albums Electric and Sonic Temple, both of which featured aggressive guitar work from Billy Duffy and powerful vocals from Ian Astbury. At the time, the ever-humble Astbury was quoted as saying, “Our music is just melodies and guitars. We're like U2, only better!" Never let it be said that lead singers are deficient in the ego department. After several breakups and reconciliations, The Cult is back on the road again, with a show on Friday at the 713 Music Hall.
Mary J. Blige brings her Good Morning Gorgeous tour to Toyota Center on Saturday. Since her 1992 debut album What’s the 411?, “The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul” has built a stellar career, bringing rap into R&B and selling a bunch of records in the process. Not to mention establishing herself as an actor of note (check out her performance as jazz legend Dinah Washington in the biopic Aretha). And let us not forget that Vice President Kamala Harris chose Blige’s “Work That” as her walk-on music at the 2020 Democratic National Convention.
What he may lack in terms of a winning personality, Smashing Pumpkins front man Billy Corgan makes up for with multiple trips to an inexhaustible well of self-confidence. The Pumpkins are touring in October (appropriately enough) in support of Corgan’s new “rock opera in three acts” Atum (pronounced "autumn," we are told), a sequel to the albums Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness and Machina / The Machine of God. The record won’t be released for a few weeks, so most audience members will be hearing the new material for the first time at the show. As a bonus, the tour, which makes a stop at Toyota Center on Monday, also features alt-rock giants Jane’s Addiction. Who would have thought that a band led by Perry Farrell would be considered the “normal” act on the bill?
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Contributor Tom Richards is a broadcaster, writer, and musician. He has an unseemly fondness for the Rolling Stones and bands of their ilk.
Contact: Tom Richards