FORD AMPHITHEATRE

click to enlarge Jimmy Eat World at Ford Amphitheatre, 2007. - Nicole Kibert
Nicole Kibert
Jimmy Eat World at Ford Amphitheatre, 2007.

4802 N. U.S. 301, Tampa, 813-740-2446, livenation.com

In 2004, Tampa Bay got its first facility specifically built for outdoor concerts. Pundits said the market already had enough large venues, but the Ford Amphitheatre has stayed busy since its inception, hosting all manner of shows, from heavy-metal fests to snoozefests (Norah Jones). As with most amphitheaters, or sheds as they're called in the concert biz, the Ford has a front covered area with assigned seating and a lawn area in the back that's general admission. Because it's not carved out of a ravine or some such thing, the venue has taken its hits over the years for being sterile, but we find the sightlines to be good, the sound quality solid and the live big-screen video feed a nice bonus. Without the Ford, Tampa Bay's concert docket would be a lot thinner.

Memories: Radiohead, the consensus best concert of '08, especially when you factor in the fascinating LED light show • Steely Dan's inspired greatest-hits gig that transcended Big Venue Syndrome • Roger Waters dazzling a sold-out crowd last May with a spectacular performance of The Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety. The light show was mind-blowing, as was the inflatable pig.

Capacity: About 20,000

Grub: Stadium food

Booze: Full liquor

Next big show: 97X Next Big Thing w/Avenged Sevenfold/Shinedown/Flogging Molly/Atreyu, Dec. 7.

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