After live music events shut down internationally due to the COVID-19 pandemic for nearly two years, fans rejoiced when their favorite musicians announced their first post-pandemic tour, festival, and concert dates. Reckoning with the idea that a global shutdown can happen again, music lovers decided on their live music bucket lists. Many music fans and concertgoers list their cant-miss tours and festivals with the fear of not being able to see their favorite talents for a while, or ever.
I recently talked about music acts I look forward to seeing for the first time in our post-pandemic society. I realized my list is pretty long because I am very selective about live music events. Venue and crowd matter in my decision to attend a concert or music event.
However, I claimed to be a day-one fan of music icons and veterans I have never seen in concert. I missed seeing legends no longer living like Luther Vandross and Whitney Houston on stage. Missing those two live music experiences is a great regret of mine.
In hopes of not missing out on these great talents as I missed Whitney and Luther, I share ten musicians on my concert bucket list with you. These are musicians whose music I play regularly on my Spotify, and whom I have never seen in a concert or festival. These include living legends whom I claim to be a day-one fan. Do not judge me.
Even as a music fanatic, I am most reluctant to go to concerts because I am among crowds of people from all walks of life. I have seen many musicians live, including my favorites Mary J. Blige, Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey, Joe, Janelle Monae, Erykah Badu, Nas, Ludacris, LL Cool J, OutKast, Lauryn Hill, Jay-Z, and Beyoncé. I have to deal with those random personalities to possibly unsuspecting unfortunate outcomes and unprofessional antics of musicians, like the chronic tardiness of soul singers Hill and Badu. They were very late at every concert I have attended that they headlined. I do not have the patience for that kind of unprofessionalism as a 45-year-old.
Here are the top 10 musicians who are on my post-pandemic concert list.
1. Anderson .Paak
Though I have heard Anderson .Paak’s music throughout Black-owned venues and events in NYC over the past seven years, I became a fan of his after releasing his 2019 Ventura album. I never was reluctant to be a fan of Paak’s music. His Ventura album was the first album that I took the time to listen to thoroughly. Then, I understood why critics herald him as one of the most important and underrated talents in the 2010s decade. With four studio albums of great music and a collaborative project with pop music prince Bruno Mars under his belt, I must treat myself to a great live music experience by Anderson .Paak.
2. Anita Baker
I have loved R&B legend Anita Baker since I was a child during the late 1980s. I remember experiencing Baker’s Rapture and Giving You The Best That I Got albums with an uncle and an aunt of mine in Kansas City over and over until I was able to understand the emotions and lyrics behind the melodies as an adult. Baker’s timeless music is irresistible, and I am ashamed that I have never seen this soul music legend live. I promise I will attend if she decides to tour again or do a show with easy traveling access, ready to sing along to her classics.
Babyface is another R&B legend I am ashamed to admit I have never seen live in concert. Among male musicians, Babyface’s music is what I played the most since I enjoyed his For The Cool In You album when I was a senior in high school in 1993. My all-time favorite love song is “I Said I Love You” from Babyface’s The Day album. I know almost Babyface’s hit singles as a performer and songwriter. I have yet to see him in concert is abysmal as a Babyface fan.
4. Bruno Mars
I have seen Bruno Mars in a live performance once, but it was not a concert or a set of his songs. I attended a televised Thanksgiving special where he performed his 2016 hit “24K Magic” on top of the Apollo Theater marquee in Harlem, New York City. I watched him perform that song in multiple takes for the CBS television producers to choose which shots of the performance on television. I have frequently played Mars’ 24K Magic album since its 2016 release. I would love to see my favorite album tracks “Chunky,” “Straight Up And Down,” and “Finesse” (without Cardi B) performed live.
In my humblest opinion, R&B/pop veteran Ciara’s music singles discography is the most criminally underrated of all time. Yep! I said that and stood on that. Ciara’s upbeat hits, including “1, 2 Step,” “Freak Me,” and “Level Up” always give me a significant music energy boost. Her slower tempo tunes “Ride,” “Body Party, and “Promise” make my uncoordinated body wanna slow wine and gyrate my ass off. I appreciate how Ciara is in her 30s and a nearly-decade mainstream R&B/pop delivering live performances better than most. I must see Ciara live in concert.
I do not boast about my love and listening to British house and garage band Disclosure’s albums enough for my music listening tastes. I first became aware of Disclosure when I heard their hit single “Latch,” with UK pop vocalist Sam Smith, in NYC in 2014. I remember inquiring about the song and discovering their 2013 debut album, Settle. In my mind, Disclosure was the future of electronic and house music. Upon listening to their 2015 Caracal album, I instantly fell in love with their collaborations with Kwabs, Lion Babe, Lorde, and The Weeknd, with “Willing And Able,” the duet with Kwabs, being my favorite. By the time Disclosure released their 2020 album Energy, I had yearned for a great album to get into, and this instantly became my favorite Disclosure album. I played Energy over and over. My favorite tunes, “My High” (with Aminé and Slowthai), “Who Knew?” (with Mick Jenkins), “Ce n’est pas” (with Blick Bassy), and “Lavender” (with Channel Tres) made me walk with pep in my steps when walking out and about listening to the album with my AirPods.
7. Glass Animals
Glass Animals is another favorite British band, best known for trip-hop and psychedelic pop albums Zaba (2014) and Dreamland (2020), whom I do not brag enough about listening to on my Spotify. Whenever I check my data of the most played songs and artists in my Spotify account, Glass Animals remains on that list because of my love of their 2020 Dreamland album. The album’s sound reminisces what a dreamland should sound like with lyrics of Dave Bayley’s nostalgia for growing up throughout the 1990s. The songs do not always paint a dreamy life. The beautiful instrumentation can quickly get a listener lost in that fantasy of not realizing the reality of the lyrical composition written by Bayley and others. I would love to hear that entire album played live in a concert.
Look at my Spotify stats, and one thing you should gather about my musical tastes is that I love, love, love indie R&B/pop Tinashe. I admit to being late to the Tinashe fandom where I constantly played her criminally underrated 2016 and 2017 jams “Company,” “Superlove,” “Flame,” and “Player.” RCA Records did us Tinashe fans and R&B/pop music lovers wrong by not putting great marketing effort into making those songs into becoming the international hit singles they deserve to be. Tinashe made those tunes hotter with her unforgettable choreography, notably “Company.” It could be a blessing in disguise how Tinashe embarked on her new music independently since departing from RCA. She released her most critically acclaimed work since being on a major label. Her albums 333 (2021) and Songs For You (2019) are among the past decade’s most well-crafted and produced R&B opuses. The choreography for songs like “Bouncin’” has taken the art to higher levels that seemed unattainable. I owe it to myself to enjoy a whole Tinashe show. In the meantime, this virtual show performed for Duke University earlier this year is Exhibits A-Z on why Tinashe is on my list as one of the greatest musical entertainers of Gen Z.
9. Toni Braxton
Toni Braxton is one R&B music legend I have been a fan of since day. I love all of Toni Braxton’s albums and played her eponymous (1993), Secrets (1996), The Heat (2000), More Than A Woman (2002), and Libra (2005) albums over and over and sing along to them. I became her fan before her debut album when she dueted with Babyface on “Give U My Heart” on the Boomerang soundtrack album. I am ashamed to admit that I have to attend a Toni Braxton concert with the admission of my Toni Braxton fandom. She performed up the street from my apartment a couple of years ago. I only have a few regrets, and that is one.
Among everyone on this list, I am surprised at myself for never attending an Usher concert, considering that I have met him at least six times since his 2001 released 8701 album. I LOVE Usher’s discography. I used to wear out his 8701, My Way (1997), and Confessions (2004). I sing his songs at karaoke to the best of my vocal abilities. I must see Usher in concert or fly to Vegas to catch one of his shows before his residency ends.
What musicians do you still have on your concert on your bucket list? What favorite music icons are you too ashamed to admit you have yet to see live in concert?