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The Ultimate Guide

Before - and after - they were stars

Music legends have stopped at venues big and small in Western New York. Read more

James Taylor

When James Taylor takes the stage at First Niagara Center on July 29, he will see a lot more smiling faces than he did in 2011, when he played an intimate show at Kleinhans Music Hall. He's far from the first who has played venues both large and small in Western New York.

Photo by Robert Kirkham / Buffalo News file photo

The Goo Goo Dolls

Buffalo's own Goo Goo Dolls have played at just about every venue you can think of in the Buffalo area, from Darien Lake and First Niagara Center to the steps of City Hall. But the band made news and noise this spring when they packed the North Park Theatre on Hertel Avenue.

Photo by Robert Kirkham / Buffalo News file photo

Bruce Springsteen

Think of the largest venue in the world and the Boss could fill it, with or without the E Street Band. So he had no trouble selling out Shea's Performing Arts Center on his Ghost of Tom Joad tour in 1996, 18 years after he had played there on his "Darkness on the Edge of Town" tour.

Photo by Harry Scull Jr. / Buffalo News file photo

U2

U2 is considered one of the greatest rock bands of all time, but if you happened to have been at Stage One in 1980, you would have been able to see Bono and the boys before their rise to the top began.

Photo by Robert Kirkham / Buffalo News file photo

Pat Benatar

Pat Benatar is still out there rockin' today, playing such venues locally as Artpark, but in 1981, riding the popularity of her album "Precious Time," she brought fans to their feet at Memorial Auditorium.

Photo by John Hickey / Buffalo News file photo

Justin Bieber

Is he the punch line to a dozen jokes a week on late-night TV? Yes. But Justin Bieber can still get the fans in the seats, as he proved last year at a sold-out First Niagara Center performance. Only three years before that, "the Biebs" was still an unknown commodity entertaining a much-smaller crowd at the Riviera Theatre in North Tonawanda.

Photo by Harry Scull Jr. / Buffalo News file photo

Led Zeppelin

Next time you attend a Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra concert in Kleinhans Music Hall, let your mind drift for a few seconds and imagine seeing Led Zeppelin on that stage. Some fans don't have to imagine it; they saw Robert Plant and Co. tear the place up in 1969, three years before they almost blew the roof off of Memorial Auditorium.

Photo by Jim Dyson / Getty Images

Bruno Mars

Now he's the guy who gets the fans screaming at the First Niagara Center and is a star of such high wattage that he did the Super Bowl halftime show this year. But in 2010, he was just another kid on the University at Buffalo campus, although he was one on stage during UB Fall Fest.

Photo by Ronald Martinez / Getty Images

Eminem

Before Slim Shady, before "Eight Mile" Eminem was just another act on the Warped Tour in 1999, as many people who were in LaSalle Park that day can remember.

Photo by Derek Gee / Buffalo News file photo

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