The Five Best Concerts In Houston This Week: Fleetwood Mac, Cheap Trick, Lotus Effect, etc.

Photo courtesy of Live Nation
Fleetwood Mac hasn't toured with their Rumors-era lineup since the Clinton administration.
Fleetwood Mac
Toyota Center, December 15

Fleetwood Mac will be playing a very special show in Houston on Monday night, because it will be Christine McVie first performance with the group here since at least the '90s. For many younger fans, this is their first opportunity to see the band's full classic lineup performing together. And those younger fans? Well, there's a lot of them -- maybe more than ever. Against all odds, Fleetwood Mac has gone from a classic-rock band relegated to bargain bins to a thriving, still-relevant enterprise.

Monday night's show will be a celebration of that fact; and Monday morning (10 a.m.) tickets go on sale for their return on the second leg of the "On With the Show" tour, scheduled for March 3 at the very same arena. COREY DEITERMAN

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The 10 Best Concerts in Houston This Weekend: Old 97's, Opeth, Ian Moore, etc.

Photo by Jason Wolter
Old 97's singer Rhett Miller at Fitzgerald's in May 2014
Old 97's
Fitzgerald's, December 12

Releasing one of 2014's best albums, in this case the nostril-flaring Most Messed Up, would be enough for about 99 percent of bands, but not the Old 97's. The DFW alt-country stalwarts have decided to take a brief victory lap to salute the 20th anniversary of debut Hitchhike to Rhome as well.

Boasting a couple of early classics in "If My Heart Was a Car" and "Stoned," as well as their untouchable version of Merle Haggard's "Mama Tried," Rhome introduced the quartet as a brash, potent group that wasn't above the occasional goof like "Ken's Polka Thing." It also got them signed to respected roots label Bloodshot Records; Wreck Your Life would follow in '95, and the '97's were off and running. With Deathray Davies.

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The Five Best Concerts in Houston This Week: Lauryn Hill, Andrea Bocelli, RL Grime, etc.

Photo by Marco Torres
Lauryn Hill in 2012
Ms. Lauryn Hill
House of Blues, December 9

One of the biggest question marks coming into this past Free Press Summer Fest, Ms. Lauryn Hill emerged instead as one of the weekend's biggest surprises with a Sunday-afternoon set many fans said was one of the weekend's best. The ex-Fugee and multiple Grammy winner's 1998 masterpiece The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill remains a hip-hop/pop/R&B lifestyle manual for loads of young women, and although she's lost a little of her loose-cannon live reputation, it's safe to say Hill will never be accused of being boring onstage, either. CHRIS GRAY

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The 10 Best Concerts in Houston This Weekend: Usher, Jessica Hernandez, Atomic Opera, etc.

Photo by Marco Torres
Mr. Excitement: Usher at Toyota Center in 2010
Toyota Center, December 5

A master showman and entertainer, Usher is so far at the top of pop music's pecking order his only real peers are Justin Timberlake and Bruno Mars. Now 36, the epicenter of Atlanta's urban-music diaspora has been making records for a full 20 years, has been a star since 1997's My Way and a superstar/mogul since demanding the whole world yell "Yeah!" six years later.

Blessed with the ability to craft silky slow jams and sweaty dance-floor workouts with equal skill, Usher has also logged a couple of seasons as a mentor on The Voice and collaborated with a host of top-shelf producers on 2012's sleek Looking 4 Myself. His next album, tentatively titled UR, is said to be nearing completion. With August Alsina and DJ Cassidy.

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The 5 Best Concerts in Houston This Week: Common, Ryan Adams, Brown Sabbath, etc.

Daniele Dalledonne via Flickr
Common performing at London's O2 Arena, 2007
Warehouse Live, December 2

The most natural heir to Curtis Mayfield's legacy of socially conscious and intrinsically soulful Chicago music (sorry, Kanye), Common doubles down on this year's Nobody's Smiling, tackling his hometown's record-setting epidemic of gun violence head-on. That's not all that's on his mind -- he even drops in a reference to Hell on Wheels, the AMC historical drama he's starred on since 2011 -- but the way he seethes with righteous anger on "Kingdom" and "No Fear" is a reminder that when he on his game, Common is one of the best MCs in hip-hop. Has been for a while, too. CHRIS GRAY

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The 10 Best Concerts in Houston This Weekend: Randy Rogers Band, Supersuckers, etc.

Photo by David McLister/Courtesy of HBPR
The Randy Rogers Band is also playing New Year's Eve in Beeville, if you're up for a road trip.
Randy Rogers Band
House of Blues, November 28 & 29

About at a year ago, the Randy Rogers Band and a tribe of their soon-to-be-hoarse Hill Country fans gathered at the legendary John T. Floore's Country Store outside San Antonio for two nights of sawing fiddle, steamrolling drums and overdrive guitars. The weekend was captured on Homemade Tamales: Live at Floore's, two discs and nearly two hours of choice RRB cuts like "Better Off Wrong," "Buy Myself a Chance," "This Time Around" and a generous portion of tracks from 2013 studio album Trouble. As a gift for the Red Dirt fan in your life, it almost beats actual tamales.

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The Five Best Concerts in Houston This Week: Leon Russell, Hell City Kings, The 1975, etc.

Photo by Marc Brubaker
Leon Russell at House of Blues, June 2013
Leon Russell
House of Blues, November 24

Though he's not quite a household name, Leon Russell's gospel-soaked style has infiltrated so much rock and pop of the past 40 years it's practically a genre of its own. The Lawton, Okla. native has been a go-to keyboardist, songwriter and partner in crime for almost too many stars to count -- Eric Clapton, Joe Cocker and Willie Nelson chief among them -- and his mellow honky-tonk keys made Russell a crucial player in the Tulsa scene that produced JJ Cale and Dwight Twilley.

Not so long ago Russell got to enjoy a little time in the limelight with The Union, his 2010 tandem album with Elton John that the Rocket Man admitted was his way of saying "thank you" to one of his main mentors. Russell's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame followed in 2011.

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The 10 Best Concerts in Houston This Weekend: From Indian Lakes, Bubble Puppy, etc.

SorokaIntern via Wikimedia Commons
From Indian Lakes: show up early and sing.
From Indian Lakes
House of Blues, November 21

With all apologies to Relient K and Blondfire, can we take a moment to talk about great the new From Indian Lakes record is? Absent Sounds is one of the best records to come out this year, and "Sleeping Limbs" is one of the best songs that no one is talking about. Yeah, they're indie-rock, and yeah, their singer does kinda sound like the dude from Death Cab, but give it a listen; these songs will worm their way in to your ears and make a permanent home. Then we can all show up early and sing. It'll be fun. With Relient K and Blondefire. CORY GARCIA

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Phillip Zimmerle Puts Down Love Knife, Adds Cello

Courtesy of Phillip Zimmerle
Phillip Alan Zimmerle doing his Mandroid thing at Jet Lounge
Former Love Knife guitarist Phillip Zimmerle has swerved again. A Baton Rouge native with a creative writing degree from L.S.U., Zimmerle has recently been working with his drummer and wife Mary Beth Zimmerle in a new duo called Black Lodge. But Friday night at Khon's, Zimmerle will fulfill a dream he's had since high school when he first began writing songs: playing acoustic versions of his songs accompanied by a cello.

Zimmerle will be joined by cellist Geneva Gordon. A UH art school graduate, Gordon is a former Rockets dancer as well as longtime bartender at Under the Volcano. This will be her first gig in some time.

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The Five Best Concerts in Houston This Week: Willie Nelson, Chrissie Hynde, etc.

Method Man & Redman
House of Blues, November 17

Although there are many to choose from, one of the best hip-hop duos of the past 20 years is the paring of Method Man and Redman. Between two successful albums and their cult-favorite movie How High, Meth and Red have proven quite possibly the most successful of the bunch outside of maybe Outkast. It's a rare treat to see them live, this being the first chance Houston will have in quite some time. JIM BRICKER

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