Music News & Reviews

KC concerts May 9-15: Bobby Brown, Neko Case, Kelly Willis, The Struts, Elle King

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Ticket brokers and bots are vying for the hottest concert tickets along with fans, and driving up prices in the process. And a lot of tickets are pulled from the pool by the tours before the sale to the general public.
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Ticket brokers and bots are vying for the hottest concert tickets along with fans, and driving up prices in the process. And a lot of tickets are pulled from the pool by the tours before the sale to the general public.

Bobby Brown

8 p.m. Thursday, May 9, at Starlight Theatre


Bobby Brown canceled a 2015 appearance in Kansas City on the day of the concert after his daughter Bobbi Kristina suffered a setback during an extended hospitalization. Her subsequent death is one of several highly publicized tragedies in Brown’s life. The R&B star has also achieved tremendous successes. He’s surveying a career full of hits like “My Prerogative” and “Mr. Telephone Man” on the RBRM tour with former New Edition band mates Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins and Ronnie DeVoe. 816-363-7827. Tickets are $39-$140 through

Neko Case

8 p.m. Friday, May 10, at Uptown Theater

Neko Case.jpg
Neko Case Red Light Management

Country traditionalist and self-proclaimed art-rock artist Neko Case recently issued a challenge on her Twitter account: “listen to Dwight Yoakam’s ‘Thousand Miles from Nowhere’ then literally any modern radio country and not be offended by it.” Case’s indignation may be justified. Even though she’s created memorable country-adjacent music for more than 20 years, she’s shunned by the industry establishment. With a vocal approach that recalls Patsy Cline and an ability to craft heartbreaking songs in the vein of Willie Nelson, Case is an elite talent. 816-753-8665. Tickets are $26-$41 through

Suzy Bogguss, Terri Clark and Pam Tillis

8:30 p.m. Friday, May 10, at Ameristar

The premise of the Chicks with Hits tour is simple: “three guitars, three stars, singing together all night.” Suzy Bogguss, Terri Clark and Pam Tillis will present acoustic versions of some of the many country smashes they recorded in the 1990s, an era much more receptive to female country artists than the present. “Outbound Plane” is among Bogguss’ hits. Tillis is remembered for brassy songs such as “Maybe It Was Memphis.” “Better Things to Do” introduced Clark to country fans in 1995. 816-414-7000. Tickets are $37-$42 through

Kelly Willis

8:30 p.m. Friday, May 10, at Knuckleheads

Kelly Willis.jpg
Country singer/songwriter Kelly Willis SHARON STEINMANN Houston Chronicle

Kelly Willis may be the most exciting country artist most people have never heard. Her 1990 debut album presented the Austin-based Willis as the female counterpart to George Strait. Yet Willis was left behind as the country landscape veered toward slicker pop styles. She opted to make raising four children her priority. Last year Willis released “Back Being Blue,” her first solo album in more than a decade. She and the durable honkytonk artist Dale Watson will perform separately and together. 816-483-1456. Tickets are $28.50-$43.50 through

The Struts

7 p.m. Saturday, May 11, at KC Live!

“Bohemian Rhapsody,” last year’s movie about the classic rock band Queen, could be seen as a 134-minute infomercial for The Struts. The British quartet is patterned on the maximalist rock and outrageous image of Queen. Luke Spiller does a spot-on impression of Freddie Mercury’s voice and replicates his on-stage antics. Songs such as “In Love With a Camera” are de facto tributes to Queen hits like “Somebody to Love.” The Struts’ lively imitation is a gloriously sincere form of flattery. 816-842-1045. Tickets are $15-$100 through


8 p.m. Tuesday, May 14, at Sprint Center

Tool is one of the last significant holdouts from music streaming services. The boycott reflects the band’s contrarian streak. Since its formation in 1990, Tool has refused to play by the rules. The quartet rose to stardom partly through terrifying music videos and by drawing on an unlikely combination of juvenile humor and cerebral theories. The sinister vocals of Maynard James Keenan and the savage drumming of Kansas native Danny Carey fill arenas with a form of heavy metal that sounds like a malevolent version of Pink Floyd. 816-949-7100. Tickets are $75-$125 through

Elle King

8 p.m. Tuesday, May 14, at The Truman

The phrase “old soul” was coined for people like Elle King. Rather than embracing contemporary trends, the daughter of the comedian and actor Rob Schneider is a musical outlier. Her gravelly voice and inclination for vintage styles evoke R&B star Etta James and rockabilly pioneer Wanda Jackson. King’s old-school impulses were scrubbed from her most recent album, “Shake the Spirit,” but unbound from the overproduced album, live versions of new songs such as “Shame” should sound dynamic. With Barns Courtney. 816-205-8560. Tickets are $30-$79 through

Johnny Marr

8 p.m. Wednesday, May 15, at VooDoo

For musicians indoctrinated in the punk revolution, one of the genre’s primary mandates was the eradication of flashy guitar heroics. As the guitarist for the British band the Smiths in the 1980s, Johnny Marr found innovative ways to shine without offending punk sensibilities. Marr’s guitar tone and effects on songs including “How Soon Is Now?” continue to resemble glimpses into the future. Since the breakup of the Smiths, Marr has favored more a conventional guitar attack. 816-472-7777. Tickets are $29.50 through