Music News & Reviews

KC concerts Aug. 16-22: Keith Urban, Sam Smith, Niall Horan, Toto, Ashley McBryde


Ashley McBryde

Thursday, Aug. 16, at KC Live

The accolades heaped on Ashley McBryde are strikingly similar to the attention garnered by Gretchen Wilson in the previous decade. Like Wilson’s earthy “Redneck Woman,” McBryde’s ornery compositions are snapshots of hardscrabble life in rural communities. “Livin’ Next to Leroy,” one of several stunning tracks on McBryde’s new “Girl Going Nowhere” album, is about a town where “three doors down there’s tinfoil on the table … you find out quick how big a hit the neighbor’s bike will get you.” With Runaway June and Jillian Jacqueline.

7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 16. KC Live. 816-842-1045. Free. Details are available at

Keith Urban

Friday, Aug. 17, at Sprint Center

Keith Urban sings “no one even cares if I’m alive” on his latest single, “Coming Home.” The rapturous reception the New Zealand native will receive on Friday will disprove the notion. The song’s melding of the signature guitar riff of Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried” with a shimmering pop production exemplifies the way in which Urban has revolutionized country music. An outstanding vocalist, guitarist and songwriter, Urban will squeeze a fraction of his hits into Friday’s set list. With Kelsea Ballerini.

7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 17. Sprint Center. 816-949-7100. Tickets are $41-$95.50 through,

Lita Ford

Friday, Aug. 17, at VooDoo

Lita Ford is a storied rock survivor, but her hits haven’t aged as well as those of Joan Jett, her former band mate in the Runaways. While Jett’s signature song, “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll,” retains its freshness, “Close My Eyes Forever,” Ford’s duet with Ozzy Osbourne, and “Kiss Me Deadly,” a song that also received heavy rotation on MTV, are ’80s-era period pieces. Even so, Ford’s riveting stagecraft equals Jett’s. Both groundbreaking woman still perform explosive versions of the Runaways’ 1976 hit “Cherry Bomb.”

8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 17. VooDoo. 816-472-7777. Tickets are $19.50 through

Father John Misty

Friday, Aug. 17, at the Uptown Theater

Josh Tillman, a former member of Fleet Foxes, has become a polarizing singer-songwriter in the tradition of Randy Newman under the auspices of Father John Misty. The caustic snark and unflattering smugness displayed by Tillman would be insufferable if he didn’t reserve his most lacerating lyrics for himself. In the hilariously disturbing new song “Mr. Tillman,” the narrator attempts to reassure an associate alarmed by his erratic behavior by insisting “don’t be alarmed, this is just my vibe.” With David Beeman.

7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 17. Uptown Theater. 816-753-8665. Tickets are $35-$55 through

Sam Smith

Saturday, Aug. 18, at Sprint Center

Sam Smith occupies the musical space associated with sophisticated R&B crooners like Luther Vandross and Mary J. Blige. The tactful ways in which the British artist wraps his silky voice around gospel-steeped American R&B on hits like “Too Good at Goodbyes” and “Pray” has made him one of the most elegant pop artists to emerge in recent years. The utterly delightful personality Smith displays in informal vehicles such as an episode of James Corden’s “Car Karaoke” have cemented his charming reputation. With Beth Ditto.

8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 18. Sprint Center. 816-949-7100. Tickets are $35-$123 through


Tuesday, Aug. 21, at Crossroads KC

An audacious claim is made at Toto’s site: “it is not an exaggeration to estimate that 95% of the world’s population has heard a performance by a member of Toto.” Given that the band consists of session musicians who have played on hits by the likes of Michael Jackson, the claim can’t be easily dismissed. Renowned musicians including guitarist Steve Lukather and percussionist Lenny Castro will apply their vast skills to wondrously smooth classics like “Africa” and “Rosanna” during Toto’s rare area appearance on Tuesday.

9 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 21. Crossroads KC. 785-749-3434. Tickets are $30-$40 through

Lil Baby

Tuesday, Aug. 21, at the Truman

The 23-year-old rapper Lil Baby insists that “I’m selling coke for real, I put the ‘d’ in dope for real” on the debut album he released in May. The problematic boast is supported by his criminal record. The artist born Dominique Jones in Atlanta has spent two years in prison. With assists by established stars such as Drake, Lil Baby is one of the most notable breakout artists of 2018. With B LA B, Kollision, City Girls and YK Osiris.

8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 21. The Truman. 816-205-8560. Tickets are $27.50 through

Niall Horan

Wednesday, Aug. 22, at Starlight Theatre

Never underestimate a boy band. When it became clear that the wheels were about to come off the One Direction gravy train, some prognosticators were quick to suggest that the members of the group were destined for obscurity. Like his band mates Zayn Malik and Harry Styles, Niall Horan is a surprisingly capable solo artist. Confident hits by the Irish star including “Too Much to Ask” demonstrate that Horan will never be dependent on a One Direction reunion. With Maren Morris.

7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 22. Starlight Theatre. 816-363-7827. Tickets are $29.50-$107 through