Best pop concerts of 2018: From David Byrne and Kendrick Lamar to Joan Baez, Jeff Beck and Slayer

The San Diego Union-Tribune’s George Varga shares his top 10 concerts of 2018.

1. David Byrne, April 12, San Diego Civic Theatre

Thirty-five years after he redefined what a live-music experience could be with Talking Heads’ landmark “Stop Making Sense” concert movie, which was filmed at several shows at the Pantages Theater in Los Angeles, the former head Head raised the bar even higher. His “American Utopia” tour was a jaw-dropping feat of musical craft, innovative staging and pinpoint execution. While every move Byrne and his two-woman, nine-man band made was exactingly choreographed, their movements were always seamlessly executed in a manner that enhanced the music. It was a stunning display of sound and vision that exceeded the sum of its many, meticulously deployed parts.

2. Jeff Beck, July 22, Mattress Firm Amphitheatre

Rock, blues, jazz, funk — this tireless English guitar legend and two-time Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee transcended styles and his instrument with peerless mastery in a career-spanning performance. Beck’s band, anchored by drum marvel Vinnie Colaiuta and former Prince bassist Rhonda Smith, was spectacular.

3. Kendrick Lamar and SZA, May 13, Mattress Firm Amphitheatre

If this polarized nation is ready to seriously discuss divisive racial and political issues, it need look no further than the songs of Kendrick Lamar to get the conversation started. The first hip-hop artist to win a Pulitzer Prize for music, he delivered a galvanizing performance that included several of his songs from the “Black Panther” film soundtrack. Second-billed SZA accomplished the rare feat of commanding the attention of a nearly 20,000-strong amphitheater audience with a set dominated by her introspective ballads.

See who else made the list!

Source: The San Diego Union-Tribune