Boomers on Tour

The Rolling Stones aren't the only old-timers hitting the road this summer. A who's who of baby-boomer rock stars will be making their way through the arena circuit this season, serving up warmed-over renditions of classic tunes to aging eardrums and graying temples. Ex-Beatle Paul McCartney will support his forthcoming, still untitled album with an outing called, simply, the "US" tour (sponsored by the decidedly bourgeois Lexus). The Beach Boys will be taking their pet sounds, without the help of Brian Wilson, around the country beginning later this month. And, of course, the Boss--Bruuuuuce--is back with a new album and a new tour to support it.

What gives? Didn't the summer of love end, like, 40 years ago? A look at 2004's top 10 grossing tours, according to Billboard Magazine, would suggest otherwise: Simon & Garfunkel landed in fourth place with $59 million. Down in the ninth spot was David Bowie, with a mere $46 million. The top two acts of last year weren't exactly young'uns either: Madonna grossed a whopping $125 million, Prince $90 million.

"It's no coincidence that these acts are the top grossing acts every year," Billboard's Ray Waddell tells NEWSWEEK. "They have 30-year careers, for one thing." For another thing, older acts with well-established street cred can get away with charging upward of $100 for tickets, especially since their target audiences are no longer libidinous college kids but rather paunchy doctors and lawyers. The Stones are in fact so good at playing the nostalgia card that their 1994's "Voodoo Lounge" was the top-grossing tour of all-time--and since 1989's "Wheels of Steel" tour, Waddell estimates they've sold nearly $2 billion in tickets. Sounds like some people can always get what they want.

Here is a brief list of aging rock stars coming to a stadium or amphitheater near you this summer:

Paul McCartney's "US" tour will launch on Sept. 16 in Miami and make stops on big-city stages like Boston's Fleet Center and New York's Madison Square Garden. The former Beatle, who will visit Des Moines, Iowa, and Omaha, Neb., for the first time, last played North America in 2002, when he was the top touring artist in the world, grossing $126 million, according to Billboard.

Tickets for the Rolling Stones tour, which launches Aug. 21 in Boston, will average $100.

Mike Love, the only original member of the Beach Boys to have been in every incarnation of the group, will be leading the band through its summer tour. Teamed with original member Bruce Johnston, Love won't quite be delivering fans an endless summer of tour dates--just from May 21 to Sept. 17, to be exact--but even without the mercurial genius Brian Wilson at the helm, the boys can certainly promise a few good vibrations.

Bruce Springsteen kicked off his solo tour, in support of his mildly controversial new album, "Devils & Dust," in Michigan on April 25. The North American leg of the tour is playing 2,500-to-5,000-seat venues through May 20, before the Boss wings his way to Europe.

Journey, a karaoke-night staple the world over, turns 30 this summer, and they certainly have no plans to stop believin'. The veteran soft-rockers have reteamed to release a forthcoming 13th album, titled "Generations." The tour begins June 26 in Irvine, Calif., but ladies, be warned: the group no longer features the silvery voice and boyish good looks of frontman Steve Perry, who has been replaced by singer Steve Augeri.

The Allman Brothers Band has already begun a spring and summer tour that will team the Southern rockers with a wide range of acts (seven of their concerts will be coheadlined with the fellow good old boys of Lynyrd Skynyrd, where the gag of yelling "Free Bird" between songs will be considered especially gauche).

This year's Ozzfest--which takes its name from America's favorite dysfunctional TV dad (no, not Ray Romano)--boasts the geriatric metalheads Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden, as well as younger acts like Rob Zombie, Killswitch Engage, Shadows Fall and Mudvayne. The tour, in its 10th year, begins July 15 in Boston and runs through early September.

Kraftwerk, the German electro-punk outfit that presaged techno 35 years ago, are releasing their first-ever live album on June 7 called "Minimum-Maximum," and backing it up with a tour that launches in Washington, D.C., later this month.

Finally, something for those of us who may not have caught the Stones back at Altamont, but still aren't exactly the freshest faces in town: The Gang of Four, funky postpunkers from the late 1970s-early 1980s have regrouped for a series of shows through the end of the month. Indie-rock pioneers Dinosaur Jr. will make a few appearances through July. And jangly college-rock icons the Pixies can be spotted for a limited time on a brief American tour from May 26 to June 14.