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Summer Splash

Critic's Pop Picks

May 25, 2000|ROBERT HILBURN

The most interesting concerts of this summer are those with the most subplot--i.e., shows by artists who have the most at stake.

The spotlight is certainly on Nine Inch Nails (June 6, Arrowhead Pond). Leader Trent Reznor is one of the great figures ever in rock, but NIN's last album, 1999's "The Fragile," was a sprawling, two-disc set whose length and unrelenting despair were simply too intense for today's pop-rock audience. This tour should help answer the question of whether Reznor can reconnect with a mass audience at a time when rock's own future is in question.

On June 16 at the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Eminem and Snoop Dogg team up for the most enticing tour bill ever in rap, a field that has generally been an underachiever when it comes to live events. Will the show live up to expectations?

Moving w-a-a-y across the pop spectrum to the Dixie Chicks (June 17, Arrowhead Pond), the question is whether the most appealing new country act is really ready to step up to an arena headline tour. One reason to believe they are: The female trio pretty much stole last year's Lilith Fair show at the Rose Bowl with its winning combination of good material and personality to burn.

Two Latino stars are also both worth watching--Marc Anthony (June 19-20, Greek Theatre) and Ricky Martin (July 20, Arrowhead Pond). Anthony is a gifted singer with a captivating sense of style, but he has to show us more than the limp, anonymous material of his last album. Martin's nowhere the artist that Anthony is, but he has a winning energy and passion live. The question of this tour: Are his enthusiasm and wide-eyed innocence intact after all the 1999 success?

Also of special interest: Don Henley (July 15-16, Universal Amphitheatre) and Diana Ross & the Supremes (Aug. 3, Arrowhead Pond). How will Henley fare on his own after all his time back on the road with the Eagles, and how will Ross come across amid all the controversy about these not being the real Supremes?

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