When it comes to the stories of the year in music in the Lehigh Valley, actually is one.
The buzz of the new $ 177 million arena downtown Allentown drowned everything else through the calendar year - starting with speculation of what acts reserves, the enthusiasm with the announcement of the Eagles as the first show, and even uproar when both Rascal Flatts and Cher canceled.
When the show opened Eagles local September 12, which was more than a concert - it was an event. It was definitely an uplifting evening for Allentown, not only for music but also because of the excitement. The capacity crowd was electric.
Of course, there were other great stories they did not focus on the Seventh and Hamilton streets. The headquarters SteelStage home of Bethlehem Musikfest festival had its second best attendance ever - probably the result of its strong alignment. Tribune The Great Allentown Fair had a year of attendance down, but the quality of their performances was high: Two of the shows that our Top 10 of the year is done.
Sands Bethlehem Event Center had perhaps the biggest in three years, The Killers name and a year of concerts of high quality.
But opening PPL Center, with artists like Neil Diamond and Nickelback to come, changed the paradigm for concerts in the Lehigh Valley.
I saw more than 100 concerts in Lehigh and Northampton County locations this year. Here were my favorites.
1. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, PPL Center, September 16
the Eagles was the perfect show to open PPL Center Allentown. But Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers was the perfect act for second event of the arena. Or anything beyond that.
While the Eagles played a set that was pleasantly accurate restoration of all their hits, Petty played a more raucous spectacle that often shook, not relieved, the crowd nearly exhausted.
Petty and the Heartbreakers six men tore through an 18-song, an hour and 45 minutes long, with an intensity that sometimes took them outside the lines. It was for the sake of change songs, but in a way that suggests confidence he knew, playing with abandon, were good enough to challenge the comfort of the songs.
2. The Eagles, PPL Center, September 12
ultimately, the Eagles could have been the perfect opening act for shiny new PPL Center of Allentown.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame group - was once a powerful force in music that sold 60 million albums in the 1970s and became the third best-selling band of all time - was on tour after only one studio album in 35 years.
That put the band in the same situation as Allentown - a city that is decades away from their glory years and is seeking to reassert itself.
Both were quite impressive in the first event of the sand.
The concert lasted for 21/2 hours at 20 minute intermission. When the full band playing the hits came, the Eagles were really impressive.
3. Keith Urban, Musikfest, August 10
Bethlehem Musikfest this year was blessed with an almost perfect climate concert, with cool summer nights. But on the last night of the festival headliner Keith Urban heats things up with a very entertaining night of summer songs that were hot but as windy as the night air blowing through the sand Steel Stage.
Playing to a full house of more than 6600 (only sellout Festival 10 days), Urban was lively and energetic through a show that included 24 songs in just over two hours.
He sank deep into his pit 15 # 1 hits (he played 13 of them). The music swirled and heated to songs with wild, fiery guitar solos prolonged. "Night amazing! Thank Bethlehem," he told the crowd. And so it was.
4. The Killers, Sands Bethlehem Event Center, May 15
Three songs in the concert of The Killers at Sands Bethlehem Event Center, it was clear that something special was happening.
The band was open - open - the show with a boost, barreling one of his greatest hits release, the successful alternative No. January 2006 "When You Were Young" in the auditorium yet fully illuminated.
This was a band on top of their game. And on a good night, to boot.
With an 18-song, 90-minute show, and the murderers got Sands Bethlehem Event Center's second birthday party setting - perhaps the best show of the place has seen.
Almost every song was great, and performs impressively. And concert in such a small room - The Killers normally play places four times the size of the event center - the energy and intensity of the music was just that much more.
5. Lady Antebellum, Allentown Fair, August 28
A day after grandstand crowd of the Great Fair Allentown saw a musical act, Motley Crue, disappointingly limp away on his farewell tour, he was a musical act at the peak of his prowess in an almost perfect show: Lady Antebellum.
Since opening - his recent single "Compass" beginning with a muffled drum, tinkling mandolin and singer warm, rich voice of Hillary Scott - which was an almost perfect night for country music trio.
In a show of 85 minutes covering 20 songs, including Lady Antebellum each of his 14 Top 10 songs, although some in abbreviated form. That meant that the whole show was full of good songs.
6. John Fogerty, Sands Bethlehem Event Center, July 18
The former Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman / guitarist / songwriter John Fogerty played many of the same successes of Creedence Clearwater Revisited, the lineage band had played 18 months earlier.
The difference was that in the hands of Fogerty, songs occasionally changed and played with unbridled intensity that made a moot point accuracy.
In a game that lasted less than two hours, Fogerty played only five songs from his solo career, which now extends to 40 years - literally 10 times tenure CCR. But, like the way Bob Dylan plays his own expansive catalog, Fogerty apparently considers that the songs and the living entities, and plays them as if they are fresh, not relics.
7. Jackson Browne, State Theatre, Easton, August 9
Even when the singer Jackson Browne was young, his songs take a deep melancholy; kind words someone exploring the soul. Therefore, it should be no surprise that now, almost 66 and playing a solo exhibition spanning career at the State Theatre in Easton, plagued Brown would have a set of those songs.
And he did. And with the added element of age - both yours and the capacity crowd - those songs cut deep into a show that included 25 songs in two sets totaling nearly 21/2 hours (30 minutes in the middle).
Browne's voice is very well preserved. Their voices were mostly midrange largely as strong as they did in their best records of more than 30 years, with a weariness of the wise world added.
The show could have been even better: Jackson did not play many of his biggest hits.
8. Tegan and Sara, Levitt Pavilion SteelStacks, Bethlehem, June 23
There was more than a little dismayed when Canadian twin sister duo Tegan and Sara released their latest album, "heartthrob", a year ago. The concern was that his 80 synth-heavy 'new-wave environment was too much of a change in their sound indie pop.
Excellent show the couple in the Levitt Pavilion SteelStacks in Bethlehem, the second in a series of summer concerts paid back in place, allay these concerns.
The 21-song, 90-minute set showed that not only the new songs represent Tegan and Sara at its best, but not too different from previous material better partner.
9. Judas Priest and Steel Panther, PPL Center, October 15
basically, what makes heavy metal music so successful - and lasting - is its simplicity: three chords on guitar slashing, aggressive vocals and basic themes. Despite its reputation double intricate guitar attack and operatic vocals, British metal gods Judas Priest has the basic right to third concert of PPL Center.
In a 16-song, 90-minute show, and the band played a lot of these signature elements of showmanship - frontman / singer Rob Halford changed clothes, jackets or at least eight times. But were the fundamentals that made the show. The game spread by the band's career, extending over 40 years.
Opener Steel Panther was laughing loud funny - not only for his brilliant offensive songs, but for its between-song patter was equally offensive.
10. Hunter Hayes, Allentown Fair, August 30
during most of the last decade, country music aimed at young listeners it was neither good nor really country, and even worse when performed live.
Hunter Hayes change that. He is a talented singer and musician whose even better live entertainment, rather than being silly extravagances overexcited, they are real experiences of energetic concerts. And his music is really country.
Hayes played an 18-song show hour and 40 minutes. From the opening title track from his new album "Argument", he jumped around the stage, taking a walk on a catwalk or jump from one monitor. It was, dare we say, Springsteen-esque in its energy.
Honorable Mentions: Flogging Molly, Sands Bethlehem Event Center, November 29; Drive By Truckers, Musikfest Cafe, October 22; Avett Brothers, Musikfest, August 7; Wynonna, Sands Bethlehem Event Center, June 28.