Shania Twain• Queen Of Me Tour• w/ Hailey Whitters• May 24, 2023• USANA Amphitheatre
Reviewed and Photographed by Kevin Rolfe
It’s hard to believe, but after a historically long Winter, Spring, and Summer are finally here. That means concerts are moving outdoors. On Wednesday, May 24, USANA Amphitheatre opened its doors for the first time this year. Opening night was about as big as it will get all summer with Country Music/ Crossover Mega-Star, Shania Twain taking the stage. Twain brought her Queen of Me Tour to town and with her 20,000 fans squeezed into the large venue.
There was so much excitement in the air. Even with doors being held due to weather, people seemed to be in great spirits. Merch lines were long, drink lines were long, and in both I could see people talking to each other, asking if they’d seen Shania before, where their seats were, and what she might perform. I enjoyed seeing familiar faces, from fellow photographers to security, to the local promoters. It felt like the fun part of the first day of school.
Chris Isaak & Lyle Lovett July• 1, 2022• Red Butte Garden Amphitheater
Reviewed and Photographed by Kevin Rolfe
Red Butte Garden started July off on a good note with a double headliner show starring Chris Isaak and Lyle Lovett. These two legends could not have picked a better date to come to Utah. The weather was perfect, and everyone was feeling good heading into the Independence Day weekend. I’ve seen Chris Isaak in concert once. I was invited last minute and was beyond impressed with the concert. I’ve always wanted to see him again. I had never seen Lyle Lovett in concert before this show. So for me personally, this was a perfect mix of anticipation to see someone I had enjoyed before, and the anticipation of seeing someone I had been wanting to see.
I chatted with a few people before the show and I asked them if they had seen either artist before. They had seen both and mentioned that they never pass up the opportunity to see them whenever they come to Utah. They assured me that I was in for a good night.
Although Ryan Hurd has had a successful career writing for Country Music’s biggest stars, he also enjoys writing for himself. With his visit to The Depot in Salt Lake City, Ryan became one show closer to closing out his “Pelago Tour”. Bringing along rising country star Morgan Wade, there was plenty of exciting music to be heard.
Country Music fans were treated to a night packed full of talent. I’d imagine most people headed to USANA Amphitheatre were intending to see Country megastars, Lady A. But the whole show was stacked from top to bottom. Most concerts will have one, maybe two support acts. This show had three talented artists opening for Lady A. Country fans definitely got their money’s worth with this show.
It’s hard to believe, but Little Big Town finally played Salt Lake City on “The Nightfall Tour”. The show had to be rescheduled at least twice. Covid-19 and the pandemic caused a lot of shows to be postponed and ultimately canceled. But Little Big Town never canceled. They tried to keep the initial date, then tried to keep the next one, and finally, they were able to play two nights at Eccles Theater in downtown Salt Lake City. People who held on to their tickets finally got the payoff months later. We had the opportunity to attend night one and it was obvious that both the band and the audience were happy to be together.
The Beers On Me Tour kicked off in Salt Lake City, August 13th, 2021 and it was a packed house. It was a beautiful summer night and I was excited to immerse myself in something new. My knowledge of country music and culture is very little. Coming into this I’ve never listened to Dierks Bentley and it was something I was ready to experience.
It was a big night in Vivint Arena. Not only was Country Music legend, Alan Jackson performing, but it was the first time the arena would be hosting a full capacity, sold-out concert in almost two years. The way everything went, you wouldn’t have guessed it had been that long. Concessions, security, and ushers alike were in top form. It was a great feeling, but still a little odd to see so many people together.
When this year’s Red Butte Garden Concert Series lineup was announced, one of the names that surprised me was Travis Tritt. Not that I didn’t think he was big enough for Red Butte, because he’s plenty big. He’s a Country music icon. But generally, this isn’t the typical artist that plays Red Butte. I thought maybe he’d show up at Country Fan Fest, or at the State Fair, but sure enough, Travis Tritt brought his tour to Red Butte Garden and it was a night to remember.
We’ve had a few canceled or postponed shows in Utah in the last few months. Some due to weather, and some due to illness. The latter is the case for Country Music superstar, Miranda Lambert. From what I read on social media, Ms. Lambert became under the weather and wasn’t comfortable performing with her voice in the state it was in. It’s disappointing when a show needs to be postponed, but I admire Miranda for wanting to give her fans the best show possible. This performance was well worth the wait.
Brandi Carlile made her much-anticipated return to Utah Saturday night at Vivint Smart Home Arena, easily the largest venue she’s played in the Beehive State. Carlile was originally set to play Vivint Arena on December 6 but found it necessary to reschedule due to a bruised vocal chord following a bout with laryngitis. Rescheduling a show can be difficult. Most of your tour is already laid out, and usually, it’s taking you further and further from the location you’ve had to cancel. I was happy to get a firm rescheduled date. Sometimes the “We’re working on a new date…” can hang in limbo until we forget about it or the artist is ultimately unable to find a new date on the calendar to play. But Brandi Carlile made sure she was coming to Utah, and we didn’t have to wait too long. She rescheduled the arena date to February 8, almost two months exactly from when her original show was meant to be. That can also be unusual. KISS, for example, had to postpone their September 2019 show out at USANA Amphitheater and weren’t able to reschedule the date until this upcoming summer. So, a huge thanks to Brandi for making up her show so soon!