News Column

Huge concert lineup for Sands 1st anniversary

May 2, 2013

YellowBrix

May 02--When the Sands Bethlehem Event Center announced in January that it would celebrate its first anniversary this month with special concerts and shows, a spokesman said it would be "a powerful, monthlong, multi-genre celebration."

The run of 14 shows kicks off today, and that promise seems fulfilled.

Tonight's show is, indeed, powerful: the 40th anniversary tour of Alabama, one of the top-selling country music bands of all time, touring for the first time in more than eight years.

So is the celebration's centerpiece, concerts May 20 and 21 by hard-rock bad boys Motley Crue, who typically play far larger arenas than the event center, which holds 3,500 for a standing show.

Sands Bethlehem Event Center partner Jeffrey Trainer Trainer said the Motley Crue shows are easily the biggest, and most expensive, the event center has offered so far, including a sold-out New Year's Eve show by reunited boy band Backstreet Boys.

"How can you not see that as the high point of the year?" Trainer says. "That's huge. That's a lot of risk, but we felt it was worth it to give the people something incredible and special. And looking at how it's selling, we were right."

Event Center General Manager Matt Salkowski agreed. "That is a huge part of the lineup -- a band that plays markets such as Philadelphia or New York. It shows that we can bring in an A-list talent, and shows [booking giant] Live Nation the Lehigh Valley can support talent like that."

The entire lineup certainly is multi-genre, with hard rock, blues rock, comedians, country, classic pop and radio rock. The celebration seems to pack into one-month the diverse offerings it has had since its first show by rock band Incubus on May 16, 2012.

The center has had more than 100 shows, and 2012 attendance put the venue in the Top 100 busiest worldwide for its size despite operating just seven months. The anniversary shows represent the highest-profile run of acts since the event center's high-profile kickoff.

The celebration will include a free show by The Wailers, the backing band of the late reggae master Bob Marley, at 5 p.m. May 27. Before the show, noon-5 p.m., there will be a party in the event center's Vision Bar and parking lot, with a pig roast, beer, games and regional bands FLINTface and A.D.D. The only charge will be for food and drinks.

"That will be our thank you to the Lehigh Valley," Salkowski says. "We wanted to give back to the community for its support of the first year, and to keep up the support for the acts we have coming up."

Here's who will play:

-- Alabama 40th Anniversary Tour, 8 p.m. May 2, $59.50-$119.50.

From 1980-99, the country band sold 50 million copies of its 29 albums and had 50 Top 10 singles. Twenty-one in a row went to No. 1 from 1980-87, including "Love in the First Degree," "Dixieland Delight," "40 Hour Week (For a Livin')" and "She and I." The group won two Grammy Awards and is a five-time Academy of Country Music Entertainer of the Year. In 1989, it was chosen as the Academy's Artist of the Decade. It played Allentown Fair nine times before retiring from touring in 2004.

-- Doo Wop Extravaganza, 7 p.m. May 4, $39.50-$95.50.

A gathering of some of the best voice-based R&B performers, with Jimmy Beaumont & The Skyliners, Shirley Alston Reeves (original lead singer of the Shirlelles), Frankie Lymon's Legendary Teenagers, Willie Winfield & The Harptones, The Tymes, Johnny Farina of Santo & Johnny, and The Knockouts.

-- Alice in Chains, 7 p.m. May 7, $85-$85.

This hard rock band straddled the grunge movement and heavy metal to become among the biggest-selling acts of the 1990s, with 22 Top 40 rock chart hits, including "Man in the Box" and "No Excuses." Its first three albums sold 8 million copies. It has a new album, still unnamed, due out this spring. The group headlined Musikfest in 2006.

-- Boz Scaggs, 8 p.m. May 10, $37.50-$85.

The Grammy Award-winning blues-rock singer sold 8 million albums from 1974-'80 and had the five-times-platinum album "Silk Degrees," with the hits "Lowdown" and "Lido Shuffle" in 1976. Boz headlined Musikfest in 2012 as part of the Dukes of September with Michael McDonald and Donald Fagen.

-- Chris Tucker, 8 p.m. May 11, $49.50-$95.50.

"One of the biggest comedians out there," event center partner Jeffrey Trainer says of Tucker, who is also a movie star. Tucker was the highest-paid actor of the time when he got $25 million for the movie "Rush Hour 3" in 2006. He is best known for the three hit "Rush Hour" films with Jackie Chan that began in 1998.

-- Brian Regan, 7 p.m. May 12, $39.50 and $55.

Regan has starred in several Comedy Central network specials and is known for his "clean" comedy that refrains from profanity and off-color humor. He has appeared on "The Late Show with David Letterman" more than 25 times and was a panelist on the NBC-TV show "The Marriage Ref."

-- Sara Evans, 8 p.m. May 16, $39.50-$85.

The country singer had three platinum albums in the 2000s. Her trademark song "Born to Fly" was from her 2000 double-platinum disc of the same name. Evans was the Academy of Country Music's Top Female Vocalist in 2006, and in 2010 returned with the platinum hit "A Little Bit Stronger." The 2011 album "Stronger" also hit No. 1. She released a Greatest Hits album, "Playlist: The Very Best of Sara Evans," this year. She played Musikfest in 2004.

-- Paul Anka, 8 p.m. May 18, $45.50-$110.

Anka began his 60-year career as a teen idol and had 22 Top 20 hits and sold 15 million copies of his 125 albums. Among his hits: "Diana," "Lonely Boy" and "Put Your Head on My Shoulder." He also wrote songs for others, including "My Way" for Frank Sinatra. On April 9, he released a new album of duets with Michael Buble, Dolly Parton, Michael Jackson and others. The release coincided with the in-store date for Anka's long-awaited life story, "My Way: An Autobiography." Anka performed during the center's opening month and at the opening of Sands Casino hotel in 2011.

-- Motley Crue, 8 p.m. May 20 and 21 (two shows), $79.50-$125.50.

A hard rock band notorious for its hard partying for the past 30 years, Motley Crue has sold nearly 30 million albums and had nearly 20 Top 30 rock hits, including "Dr. Feelgood" and "Girls, Girls, Girls." And after 30 years together, the band has its original lineup of Vince Neil, Nikki Sixx, Tommy Lee and Mick Mars. Motley Crue sold out the 10,500-capacity Allentown Fair grandstand in 2005, with its most recent area shows at the 18,000-capacity Toyota Pavilion at Montage Mountain in Scranton the past two years.

-- Chicago, 8 p.m. May 22, $60.50-$116.

Chicago is among the longest-running and most successful rock bands of all time, ranking in the Top 30 best-selling music acts with more than 120 million copies of its 46 albums sold worldwide. After more than 45 years together, four of its nine members are originals, although singer Peter Cetera, who was the voice of hits such as "25 or 6 to 4" and "If You Leave Me Now," left the band in 1985. The group has played the Allentown Fair four times, the latest in 2009, and Musikfest in 2001.

-- Korn, 8 p.m. May 23, $35-$75.

Korn is among the most popular nu-metal bands ever, with its first five albums selling more than 15 million copies and two Grammy Awards. It had 17 Top 30 alternative rock hits, the latest being "Narcissistic Cannibal" in 2011. It is best known for its song "Freak on a Leash" from its 1998 album "Follow the Leader." The band's original guitarist, Brian "Head" Welch, who left in 2005, has rejoined. The band plans to put out a new disc this summer.

The Wailers, 5 p.m. May 27, Free.

The Wailers is led by bassist Aston "Family Man" Barrett, who with his drummer brother, the late Carlie Man, joined the original Wailers with reggae icon Bob Marley. The group now has as its vocalist Rasta artist Koolant Brown, who appeared in the movie "Made in Jamaica."

-- Buckcherry, 8 p.m. May 29, $30 and $50.

The rock band first hit it big with its 1999 self-titled debut and hits "Lit Up," "Check Your Head" and "For The Movies." It has six albums that have sold a combined 2 million copies. Its 2006 album "15" gave the band its first platinum CD and its first Top 10, "Sorry." "Black Butterfly," the 2008 follow-up, was its first Top 10 album. The band played the Allentown Fair in 2007 and Musikfest in 2011.

Tickets to all shows are available at http://www.sandseventcenter.com, the event center box office, http://www.Ticketmaster.com, Ticketmaster outlets or by phone at 800-745-3000.

John.moser@mcall.com

610-820-6722

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