Madonna’s Quest to Reclaim New York Highlights This Week’s Best Concerts


For more shows throughout the week, check out our New York Concert Calendar, which we update daily.

She’s back, but has Madonna ever really left? For generations Madge has been the Queen of Pop, always ready to helm a new trend and leave listeners standing there with their jaws dropped. No venue for her Rebel Heart Tour is more appropriate than Madison Square Garden, where she’ll no doubt wow fans old and new with songs off her latest album along with her greatest hits. Can’t stand the heat? Don’t worry — the seven-piece soul revivalists St. Paul and the Broken Bones are stopping by Webster Hall, and Babes in Toyland return to New York to resurrect their grunge fury.

Monday, 9/14
Rita Ora
Irving Plaza
7 p.m., $30
The British pop star Rita Ora returns to the United States, backed by the fiery new single “Body on Me,” which saw its release in early August, and on which hyper-produced electro-pop track Ora shares the microphone with Chris Brown. “Body on Me” is the first taste of new music from Ora, whose last release was 2012’s Ora, and although her upcoming sophomore effort is without a title or release date, that hasn’t kept her from hitting eight of the U.S.’s top cities to break out new tracks and rehash favorites like “Poison” and “Black Widow.” — Silas Valentino

Tuesday, 9/15
St. Paul and the Broken Bones
Webster Hall
7 p.m., $22
The debut musical number on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert showcased the various talents of Mavis Staples, Brittany Howard, Buddy Guy, and Ben Folds, but one of the key soul suppliers was an unassuming Southern boy named Paul Janeway, who fronts the Alabama-based seven-piece St. Paul and the Broken Bones. When he’s not rubbing shoulders with legends, Janeway champions crisp Southern soul that’s entirely deserving of all the comparisons to Otis Redding — especially during single “Call Me,” which highlights Janeway’s show-stopping pipes. They’re touring behind their excellent 2014 debut, Half the City, and this Webster Hall date is the right time to catch St. Paul and the Broken Bones in the midst of their bloom. — Silas Valentino

The Royal Bopsters Project
8:30 p.m., $40
With the death of two founding Manhattan Transfer members in recent years, the art of vocalese — i.e., the translation of instrumental jazz solos into swingingly sung lyrics that often reflect on the scene itself — threatened to evaporate along with them. But fear not: Crack harmonizers Amy London, Darmon Meader, Dylan Pramuk, and Holli Ross breathe new life into the decidedly hep tradition on The Royal Bopsters Project, a lush and lively new album that spans the generations and includes appearances by vocalese masters Bob Dorough, Andy Bey, Mark Murphy, and Jon Hendricks and Annie Ross (of Lambert, Hendricks & Ross fame). Bey and Sheila Jordan will help the four core Bopsters launch a five-night stand tonight, and you can catch nearly everyone involved tomorrow. — Richard Gehr

Wednesday, 9/16
Madison Square Garden
8 p.m., $45–$360
Bitch, she’s Madonna, and that’s a fact younger-skewing pop connoisseurs occasionally need to be reminded of. (There would be no Katy Perry without Madonna. Just sayin’.) At 56, the Queen of Pop has shown no interest in slowing down: This year saw the release of Madge’s thirteenth studio album, Rebel Heart, a matured musical statement following the misguided party-seeking vibe of 2012’s MDNA for the seemingly youth-obsessed singer. Despite a highly publicized hacker snafu preceding the album’s release, Rebel Heart, which features collaborators such as Avicii, Diplo, Nicki Minaj, and Kanye West, still debuted at No. 2. Madonna’s New York stop includes two nights at Madison Square Garden and one at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. — Jill Menze

Brian Stokes Mitchell
Cafe Carlyle
8:45 p.m., $65–$185
What’s especially savvy about this Broadway leading man is that he doesn’t push the Broadway-leading-man thing. Instead, Brian Stokes Mitchell just plays the likable Joe who happens to have a great voice, great taste, and great looks. He chats amiably between freshening up the standards. He may or may not reprise anything he’s sung in “Ragtime” or “Kiss Me, Kate.” He may not warble anything either from his next Great White Way tuner, “Shuffle Along, Or, The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed.” That’s the mouthful in which he’ll reunite with “Ragtime” co-star Audra McDonald. — David Finkle


Eagles of Death Metal
Bowery Ballroom
8 p.m., $25
Dave Grohl may seem like the clear choice as the contemporary Rock God, but Josh Homme is the poor man’s candidate. Not only does he rule with a mighty strum in Queens of the Stone Age (as well as having previously fronted the influential stoner-rock group Kyuss), but his sideband the Eagles of Death Metal is another outlet that brandishes his rock ‘n’ roll mettle. Formed in the late Nineties with Jesse Hughes, Eagles of Death Metal have kept a low profile since 2008’s Heart On, but fans were recently treated to a new single (“Complexity,” marked by its fuzzy bass lead) and an October 2 release date for their fourth album, Zipper Down. Homme is on a hot streak — lit by his 2013 Queens of the Stone Age triumph, …Like Clockwork — so approach this show acknowledging that a face-melting performance will likely be delivered. — Silas Valentino

Brave Baby
The Bowery Electric
8 p.m., $10
Picking up where Foster the People and alt-J tumbled off is the Charleston, South Carolina, crew Brave Baby. This is indie rock stacked with hooks and smoky vocals, reaching a powerful peak during the immediately joyous track “Plastic Skateboard,” picked off their sophomore LP, Electric Friends. Brave Baby must wear out their reverb pedals — dig the spacey instrumentation — but this is no far-out jam band. A majority of the tracks off Electric Friends get it done in under four minutes, suggesting that Brave Baby can conjure plenty of psychedelic tone without sacrificing a pop edge. — Silas Valentino

Thursday, 9/17
Babes in Toyland
Irving Plaza
7 p.m., $25
The 1993 Lollapalooza lineup read like an almost-cliché list of the best Nineties acts to hit the Gen-X stage: Primus, Alice in Chains, Dinosaur Jr., Rage Against the Machine. But it was the Minneapolis trio Babes in Toyland that gave the legendary fest its diversity and an even greater bite while expanding the limits of grunge. Powered by crunchy chords and singer Kat Bjelland’s howling shrieks, Babes in Toyland produced three explosive albums before calling it quits at the turn of the century. But some bands are too good (and important) to be left dormant, so they returned in February to play their first show since 2001. There isn’t a new album backing this current tour, but that shouldn’t prevent them from pile-driving right back into our eardrums. — Silas Valentino

Music Hall of Williamsburg
8 p.m., $16
Philadelphia-based five piece Vacationer take their dream-pop to the beach and soak it in hazy undertones of the sort to make even the coldest of winter nights seem slightly warmer. (To wit: They were last seen in January playing a set at the Bowery Ballroom over which they greatly cheered up a frost-ridden audience.) Vacationer are touring behind 2014’s Relief, their second LP, which continues a deep-sea exploration into bass-heavy pop with electronic rhythm. The dismal dark of winter is a few months away, so this return to New York should have Vacationer sounding even more radiant in their zone. — Silas Valentino

The Donkeys
The Studio at Webster Hall
7 p.m., $10
Melody is the main ingredient in the musical stew cooked up by San Diego indie rockers the Donkeys. The easygoing nature of a Californian beach is well represented in their breezy guitar-based ditties, as is a determination for progression. Take their fourth record, Ride the Black Wave, for example: It’s their tightest and most focused record to date, with a well-produced sound and a delivery of surf rock that sways from calm hooks to thundershower breakdowns, nailing the mark on the instrumental highlight “The Manx.” Since their 2004 debut, the Donkeys have been gradually getting better by tossing more distinctive elements into their littoral-inspired tone. — Silas Valentino