Musical Marathon

The big gigs just keep on coming in November. Can anyone over 50 keep up?

If you are older than 50 and still like to go to rock concerts every now and then, there’s no way you are going to rally to see all of the boomer-era bands playing in November, no matter how much Advil and glucosamine you take. If you were to try, though, this is what your month might look like:

Right out of the gate, Madonna storms the Xcel Energy Center for two shows, Nov. 3–4. At 54, Madonna’s cone bra may be made of sturdier material these days, but she just finished taking her MDNA tour to Asia and Europe, and is by all accounts in spectacular physical shape. Lady Gaga is the reigning queen of pop, and wrestling the crown back won’t be easy, but Madonna is known for putting on deliriously choreographed shows with more dancers and costume changes than a Vogue shoot with the Rockettes. The central theme of the show is “from darkness to light,” and Madonna isn’t just referring to her hair. It’s all about the spiritual journey now—and keeping those abs flat.

1112-Dylan_175.jpgYou get a few days off, then on Nov. 7 his royal highness of Hibbing, Bob Dylan, takes over at Xcel with the supporting tour for his 784th album, Tempest. Dylan is enjoying yet another resurgence in popularity (his 126th) and is in fine form on the new record. In Rolling Stone, former City Pages music critic Will Hermes gave Tempest five stars, calling it Dylan’s “weirdest,” “darkest” album ever. To wit, the title track is about the sinking of the Titanic; it’s 14 minutes long and has 45 verses, with no chorus. Way to go, Bob. Can’t wait to hear that one and “Desolation Row” back to back. Ex-Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler opens, which is reason enough for some people to go.

Springsteen says his goal is still the same every night: to send you home with “your back hurting, your voice sore, and your sexual organs stimulated.”

1112-Bruce_175.jpgBy now you should have your parking strategy at Xcel down pat, which is good, because four days after Bob, Bruce comes to town for two shows, Nov. 11–12, dragging the E Street Band with him. If you read David Remnick’s recent profile of Springsteen in The New Yorker, you know the road is taking its toll on the band physically. (Guitarist Nils Lofgren has had two hips replaced and likens the backstage medical support team to a “MASH unit.”) But Springsteen says his goal is still the same every night: to send you home with “your back hurting, your voice sore, and your sexual organs stimulated,” though I can think of a better order for those things.

After a day to rest and unstimulate your organs, you’re thrown right back into the fray with a show at the Cedar on Nov. 14 by slide-guitar legend Sonny Landreth. A guitarist’s guitarist, Landreth plays with a hybrid fingerpicking-slide technique he developed himself, but he is best known for touring with Jimmy Buffett in the 2000s. The very next night, you have a decision to make: go see The Monkees on Nov. 15 at the State Theatre or save your energy up for the Australian Pink Floyd Experience at the Orpheum on Nov. 18? What you decide will say quite a bit about your character and musical judgment. Or maybe Christmas shows are your thing—another musical litmus test—in which case you can catch the Brian Setzer Orchestra’s Christmas Rocks Extravaganza (Nov. 17) or Mannheim Steamroller Christmas (Nov. 23), both at the Orpheum.

Finally, in a last-ditch attempt to prevent two generations of television viewers from associating its music with crime-lab technicians in Miami and New York, The Who takes command of Target Center on Nov. 27 to perform the entirety of its epic two-album rock opera from 1973, Quadrophenia—the album critics and fans adore and everyone else loves to ignore. Both Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey will be there. If you are a Who fan, you cannot miss this one, no matter what you feel like at the end of November.

Now, the reckoning: If you pay top dollar to see all of these shows, your credit card will melt to the tune of $1,008.50, plus another couple grand for Ticketmaster fees, T-shirts, physical therapy, and a new hearing aid.

Merry Christmas.