These were the most memorable San Diego concerts of 2022

Elton John captivated a sold-out audience of 40,000 at his Nov. 9 concert at Petco Park
Elton John captivated a sold-out audience of 40,000 at his Nov. 9 “Farewell Yellow Brick Road: The Final Tour” concert at Petco Park on Nov. 9.
(K.C. Alfred/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Petco Park hosted a record number of concerts this year, while Humphreys and North Island Credit Union Amphitheatre each had their longest seasons ever


The landscape for concerts in 2022 was full of highs and lows as the music industry continued rushing to make up for the nearly 18-month shutdown of live events that began in early 2020.

That was great news for Elton John, 75, and Puerto Rican reggaeton superstar Bad Bunny, 28, who had the two biggest tours of the year. Both performed to capacity crowds this fall at San Diego’s Petco Park, where Bad Bunny — who sings exclusively in Spanish — became the first artist in any genre to headline concerts at the stadium on two consecutive days.

Together, Bunny’s 2022 stadium and arena tours grossed $393.3 million. This year’s leg of John’s multiyear “Farewell Yellow Brick Road: The Final Tour” was second, grossing $274 million.

The 10 biggest concert tours of 2022 each grossed more than $100 million, a first, while the top five each grossed more than $200 million, another first. Not coincidentally, the average price of tickets rose to $103.71 this year, a 19 percent jump from $87.19 in 2019.

Some new and veteran music acts alike shortened or canceled their tours altogether, beset by supply-chain issues , inflation and the soaring cost of touring. COVID-19 outbreaks forced Pearl Jam, Justin Bieber and others to shelve or postpone performances.

As in previous years, some of the 10 top-grossing tours came to San Diego, including Petco Park dates by John, Bad Bunny, Red Hot Chili Peppers and a Motley Crue/Def Leppard double-header while the rest — Ed Sheeran, Harry Styles, Coldplay, Rolling Stones, Kenny Chesney and The Weeknd — bypassed us.

At least two San Diego venues — the 1,450-capacity Humphreys Concerts by the Bay and the nearly 20,000-capacity North Island Credit Union Amphitheatre — this year both had the longest seasons in their respective histories. Many other area venues also operated in high gear in 2022, eager to move forward and, perhaps, wary of another pandemic surge.

My favorite concerts, as always, took place in venues small, large, and in between. Here are 10 of them.

Elton John, Nov. 9, Petco Park: Clocking in at two-hours and 23 minutes, Elton John’s second “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” tour concert here — following his January 2019 Pechanga Arena show — was one for the record books.

The marathon 23-song show by pop’s fabled “Rocket Man” featured hit after hit and some welcome deep album cuts. John delivered each with enough exuberance and vigor to light up the sold-out audience of 40,000 from start to finish.

The music legend and his crack six-man band performed 23 songs in their two-hour-plus concert at the sold-out stadium

Bonnie Raitt & Mavis Staples, Sept. 27, The Shell: With soulful elan, Rait, 72, and Staples, 83, delivered a stirring master class in musical excellence, emotional fervor and the art of simultaneously entertaining and uplifting an audience. What resulted was a night of exceptional artistry by two greats who make each word they sing sound righteous and true.

The two music legends, who are longtime friends, drew a sold-out audience of 4,700 to their performance at The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park

Rosalía, Oct. 2, SDSU’s Cal Coast Open Air Theatre: On tour to promote her triumphant third album, the genre-blurring “Motomami,” Rosalía enthusiastically affirmed that — at 30 — she is a growing international force. The absence of a live band limited the charismatic Spanish singer’s ability to throw in any curve balls on stage. But her vibrant blend of pop, flamenco, hip-hop, bachata and reggaeton was largely irresistible regardless.

Vedder’s annual festival caps a year of victories and challenges for the Pearl Jam leader and former San Diegan

Willie Nelson, Oct. 18, Humphreys Concerts by the Bay: On the road yet again at 89, this cherished American-music icon now paces himself more carefully on stage. But when Nelson’s still-supple voice fully connects with a song — be it “Georgia On My Mind,” “(Die When I’m High) Halfway to Heaven” or “I’ll Love You Till the Day I Die” — time all but stood still.

The legendary Texas singer-songwriter paced himself and carefully picked his shots at Humphreys. When he connected, time magically slipped away

Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Aug. 15, The Shell: Backed by a superb band that included former San Diego multi-instrumental wiz Stuart Duncan, the bluegrass queen and former Led Zeppelin front man teamed up for an enchanting evening. Together, they sang vintage blues, rockabilly, New Orleans R&B, and several Zep classics that simultaneously sounded earthy and fresh.

Bluegrass-music queen Krauss, a 27-time Grammy Award-winner, and Plant, the co-founder of Led Zeppelin and veteran solo artist, kick off the third leg of their 2022 concert tour Monday in San Diego. It concludes Sept. 12 in New York City

Also worth cheering”

Sting, Dec. 13, The Shell

Diego El Cigala, Nov. 6 Humphreys Concerts by the Bay

Olivia Rodrigo, May 18, The Shell

Zach Bryan, Nov. 11, Gallagher Square at Petco Park

The Go-Go’s, March 31, Humphreys Concerts by the Bay