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Fall Concert Highlights in Silicon Valley

In Music

Oct. 6-7, 8pm; HP Pavilion, San Jose; $48 and up. “This is a beautiful song,” said Iggy Pop, before the Stooges ripped in to Madonna’s “Ray of Light” at their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. This was all because, rather than sing herself at the induction ceremony, Madonna had suggested to Iggy that he do her songs. That’s the strange thing about the most successful woman in pop music—it’s so easy to write her off when one of her dumb gimmicks falls flat, but then she’ll come up with something genuinely cool, like getting the Stooges to do her songs at the Hall of Fame. Her music has been like that, too. She’ll put out trash for years at a time, and then come back with something like 1998’s Ray of Light, 2005’s Confessions on a Dance Floor or this year’s MDNA. On her current tour, she’s still working overtime to be controversial—baring a nipple in Istanbul, showing off “Pussy Riot” scrawled on her back in Russia in support of the jailed punk band. Even when she’s polite and casual, she lights a fire, as when she offhandedly mentioned that Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” was a “redo” of her “Express Yourself.” The big mystery is why she still plays the pop game of thrones so hard 20 years into her career, with nothing left to prove. I’m reminded of something I heard her say years ago, something along the lines of, “I’ve never been the best singer, or dancer. I just try harder than everyone else.”

Oct. 18; 6pm; SJSU Event Center; $35. Tiesto’s “College Invasion Tour” is being billed as the biggest dance-music tour ever to hit American campuses. Coming from the Dutch producer and DJ born Tijs Michiel Verwest, but better known simply as Tiesto, that’s no surprise. He was the first super-DJ of the 21st century. He created the template that today’s megastar DJs are still following, while maintaining his own popularity. The success of his 2001 album, In My Memory, launched the anthem “Flight 643.” But by then, Tiesto had already been building his reputation across Europe. Since then, he has kept up with all the changes on the electro scene, but his heart clearly still belongs to progressive house and trance.

Snow Patrol
Oct. 21, 7:30pm; San Jose Civic; $30-$38. Snow Patrol’s breakthrough hit, “Chasing Cars,” was the most-played song of the last decade on U.K. radio, which will surely be a surprise to anyone who thought of them as “that band with the song on Grey’s Anatomy.” It was most certainly a surprise to them, too, after toiling in obscurity for almost a decade before that. There’s a reason they named their 2003 album Final Straw—they were basically giving up on their career. But the hit from that record, “Run,” changed all that. By 2008, they were touring with Coldplay, with whom they shared a U2-derived post-Britpop sound that millions on both sides of the Atlantic found easy on the ears. Last year’s Fallen Empires added some electronic touches to Snow Patrol’s bag of tricks, and gave them their highest chart debut in the United States.

Leonard Cohen
Nov. 7, 8pm; HP Pavilion, San Jose; $39.50 and up. When Leonard Cohen makes his next stop in San Jose, it will be three years almost to the day since his last performance at HP Pavilion, on what was then suspected by many to be his farewell tour. But the 77-year-old singer/poet, known best these days for his ’80s “comeback” songs like “I’m Your Man” and “First We Take Manhattan,” hasn’t gone anywhere. He released his 12th album, Old Ideas, in January. Anyone who saw that last, tour-de-force show at HP had to suspect as much. He opened by telling the audience, “It is our intention to give you everything we got tonight,” and then immediately ripped into some of his best-known songs—”Dance Me to the End of Love,” “The Future,” “Bird on a Wire,” “Everybody Knows”—in rapid succession. He even seemed to joke about his supposed impending retirement when, in “I’m Your Man,” he changed the words to, “If you want another kind of lover, I’ll wear an old man’s mask for you.” That word “old” seems to keep coming up. But for Cohen, the proper term is “timeless.”

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