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Tuesday, Jan 16, 2018
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Best of 2017: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Mumford and Sons, Aaron Carter top Tampa Bay’s best concerts (Part 5)

(All week on Soundcheck, we're looking back at the best Tampa Bay concerts of 2017. Today: Dawn Cate, Chelsea Tatham and Christopher Spata from the Times features staff.)

Game of Thrones Live (March 12, Amalie Arena): This was not a typical movie score concert. Yes, original series composer Ramin Djawadi lead the concert while scenes from the show played above the audience, but the scenes were on the jumbotron of Amalie Arena. And there were three stages. And beautiful props and digital effects. And pyrotechnics. It was all perfectly fitting for a show full of graphic violence, medieval drama and dragons. The haunting tune The Rains of Castamere gave everyone chills in Season 3 of Game of Thrones, but there is nothing quite like hearing it played live while watching scenes of the sinister Lannister family. — Chelsea Tatham

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (May 6, Amalie Arena): Ever since this concert was announced, my anticipation built as I looked forward to seeing the band for the first time. The show did not disappoint. Such conviction and talent. The connection between Petty, Mike Campbell, Benmont Tench and the rest of the gang was pure magic. It was impossible not to feel the mojo in the room that night as the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers jammed their way through a setlist that spanned all the way back to American Girl, whose "out on 441, like waves crashin' on the beach" lyrics always bring me back to Gainesville, Petty's hometown and my college town. I had secretly hoped I'd hear You Got Lucky, and I got my wish; I did indeed get lucky. Sadly, Petty passed away just months later. I heard the news in Gainesville, where my daughters now attend college. Days later I was at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium for the University of Florida's homecoming tribute, wearing my Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers concert T-shirt and singing my heart out to I Won't Back Down. — Dawn Cate

Aaron Carter (Aug. 10, Hamburger Mary's): One of the most entertaining performances to take place on Tampa Bay soil in 2017 happened in one of the least expected venues, featuring an even more unlikely artist. Aaron Carter's concert at a Hamburger Mary's in Brandon was a head-scratcher from the moment we heard about it. Where had the former preteen idol and hometown boy been? Why was he resurfacing now? Reviewing a concert isn't about making judgments on the music. You're there to answer the question: Why, or why wasn't, the show worth the price of the ticket this performer's fans paid for? Anyone else who saw Carter beaming, crying, embracing fans and showing the rawest emotion on stage I've seen maybe ever, while proving he was serious about sharing new music at a show when the fans would have gleefully settled for nostalgia, knows it was worth way more than the $10 cover. — Christopher Spata

Mumford and Sons (Sept. 20, Amalie Arena): Due to scheduling conflicts (mine), I missed two of the British band's previous stops in Florida (Gentlemen of the Road Tour, St. Augustine, 2013; and Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival, 2016). I wasn't about to miss their first visit to Tampa Bay. What a treat. The harmonizing, the power, the musicianship, the beauty. Hearing the band live was an emotive experience. Awake My Soul? And how! Whether the band was pounding out the crescendoing Dust Bowl Dance or performing the lovely ballad Where Are You Now, this was moving stuff. The only blemish on the night came during Timshel, when some clowns in the audience decided they wanted to hear their own voices rather than honor Marcus Mumford's request for quiet as the four band members gathered around one mic at the center of the arena for a stripped-down version of the gem. Here's hoping the Tampa Bay area will get a do-over. — Dawn Cate

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in Concert (Sept. 30, Straz Center): I'm a Harry Potter fan to the farthest extent (yes, I have a Hogwarts house robe and multiple wands), so I was going to this concert in September no matter what it entailed. But I was blown away but the power of the Florida Orchestra. A few days earlier, I'd spoken with the concert series conductor, John Jesensky, who convinced me of the power of hearing live music and actually feeling the notes. He was right. The Florida Orchestra blew John Williams' iconic score out of park/theater as they lined up each tune to certain scenes while the movie played above the audience. I'm sure I wasn't the only one in the audience who had seen the first Harry Potter film dozens of times, but I left with a greater appreciation for film scores. — Chelsea Tatham

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Best of 2017: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Mumford and Sons, Aaron Carter top Tampa Bay’s best concerts (Part 5)