REVIEW: Nothing More Bring the Scorpion Back to the Desert at The Van Buren (6-16-22)

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PHOENIX — Jonny Hawkins’ vocal acrobatics were absolutely mesmerizing. It’s hard to believe the Nothing More frontman wasn’t even singing at age 21 as he sat just beyond the limelight as the band’s drummer. His voice evolved from gravel enriched screams as they opened with “Turn It Up”, to technically precise softness in the opening verse of “Go To War”. And, oh yes, he made his presence known early in the show as he rose up to ride The Scorpion Tail that not only looks dangerous but also contributes to the sound as Hawkins jammed the throttles that processed the guitar like a whammy bar.

Jonny Hawkins (Vocalist), Nothing More – on The Scorpion Tail
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

The audience were the loyal followers in response to the shouts in “Christ Copyright” and the musicians were Hawkins’ disciples like in the last supper painting. Mark Vollelunga (guitar, vocals), Daniel Oliver (bass, vocals), and Ben Anderson (drums) were all superstars in their own right, but the focus seemed to always come back to center stage where the charismatic singer, with the muscle tone of an MMA fighter, held court.

Jonny Hawkins of Nothing More performing in Phoenix
Jonny Hawkins (Vocalist), Nothing More
| Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

For this show, Hawkins’ ever-morphing body paint design for the evening resembled a  red sash on a field of black that faded out asymmetrically across his torso. What it symbolized remained a mystery along with the question of how the paint stayed on all night through the sweat and stage antics.

Jonny Hawkins of Nothing More performing in Phoenix
Jonny Hawkins (Vocalist), Nothing More
| Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

The 13-song setlist included a balanced mix of selections from 2017’s Grammy nominated The Stories We Tell Ourselves and the previous release from 2013, simply entitled Nothing More. Fans were treated to two new songs from 2022, the opener “Turn It Up Like (Stand In Fire)” and the brilliant lyrical voyage of “Tired of Winning” with an embedded speech from Alan Watts on the eternal now.

Daniel Oliver of Nothing More performing in Phoenix
Daniel Oliver (Bassist), Nothing More
| Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

Phoenix was one of the last stops on this 27-gig tour before they head back to San Antonio where their origin story began and there was no sign of fatigue or phoned-in performances. The energy was at full tilt all night long. Even when the heavy sounds took a respite, heavy emotional lyrics filled in on “Fade In / Fade Out”, the perfect soundtrack for Father’s Day weekend.

Ben Anderson (Drummer), Nothing More
| Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

The sound was a little ‘boomy’ in the venue, but you could still tell that the orchestration was stellar.  There were tracks that they played along to, but they seemed incidental to provide storyboarding for intros and to provide expansive soundscapes.  Vollelunga’s contribution to the sound of Nothing More is a key to their originality. His showmanship was on full display, but not as a showy shredder, more as a song smith with attitude sporting a drop-tuned Aristide guitar through Marshall cabinets.

Mark Vollelunga (Guitarist, Vocalist), Nothing More
| Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

As the lights went down for the final song, a techno ambiance resonated as if from the rafters above. A haunting melody was being voiced with vocoder harmonies and the fans came alive knowing the lyrics to “This Is The Time”. The momentum was building as recollections of Hawkins carrying the stone in the music video came to mind and then the room exploded with excitement as the band kicked into high gear. Hands raised, the minions were jumping in time and responding with shouts when the mic was aimed their way. Eventually Hawkins mounted The Scorpion Tail as a bookend to the show and left the crowd wanting more when the house lights capped the performance.

Jonny Hawkins (Vocalist), Nothing More – on The Scorpion Tail
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

Eva Under Fire

Labelmates at Better Noise Records, Eva Under Fire, opened up the night with a little sliver of the front of the stage. They brought the classic sound and lineup that brought arena rock to the forefront: dueling guitars (Rob Ryberg and Chris Slapnik) mixed with a thumping bass (Edward Joseph) and pounding drums (Corey Newsom) in support of a charismatic singer.

Eve Under Fire performing in Phoenix
Eva Under Fire
| Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

Eva (aka Amanda Lyberg) delivered the vocal goods with perfect intonation and high energy from start to finish. Their set included original grooves that felt instantly familiar. 

Amanda Lyberg of Eva Under Fire  performing in Phoenix
Amanda “Eva” Lyberg (Vocalist), Eva Under Fire
| Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

It will be interesting to see where their trajectory leads them with their formulaic songwriting that sounds like mainstream rock hits. This tour is giving them a platform to show the world that they are more than a bar band. Standout songs were “Heroin(e)” that Eva wrote about her father’s drug overdose and their latest release, “Unstoppable”, that has all the swagger of a Carrie Underwood hit in a metal multiverse. 

Edward Joseph of Eva Under Fire performing in Phoenix
Edward Joseph (Bassist), Eva Under Fire
| Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

Eva, with her blue mane, led the audience in synchronous bouncing to the infectious beat of “Blow” that they recorded with Spencer Charnas of Ice Nine Kills. They wrapped their 8-song stint on stage with a cover of Journey’s “Separate Ways”…BTW, their recording and video of this song is good, but it was fantastic live, sans keyboards and vocal harmonies. The band treated fans to a meet-and-greet after the show at the merch table.


Next up, Atreyu visited the valley again after the “day gig” in April at UFest. It was cool to see the lights in the speaker stacks this time that couldn’t be seen in daylight at Ak-Chin Pavilion. Story has it that their bus had caught fire earlier in the day and although nobody was injured, they did lose some material possessions up in smoke. That sure didn’t appear to dampen their spirits during the show. From the first note, the audience was in the palms of their hands.

| Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

Atreyu balances a heavy in-your-face metal aesthetic with a fun party atmosphere. Brandon Saller, another former drummer turned lead vocalist, is a class act entertainer and when he asked us to raise our fists, we obeyed. At one point he came off stage to mingle with fans and sing on top of the bar.

Brandon Saller
Brandon Saller (Vocalist), Atreyu
| Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

When asked, many of the attendees indicated that they were first timers, but when the catchy chorus rang out it seemed like everybody was a longtime fan as they screamed along with the lyrics. Speaking of screaming, Atreyu has another vocal secret weapon on the band with bassist Marc “Porter” McKnight who has mastered the art of unclean vocals! Long hair is typical in heavy metal, but McKnight’s long hair sprouts from his chin instead of his bald head and it suits him well.

Marc "Porter" McKnight
Marc “Porter” McKnight (Bassist), Atreyu
| Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

There was a scattering of harmony vocals throughout the set, but during a break in the song “Save Us”, Atreyu again raised the bar with some impressive three-part vocal harmonies, and then guitarists Dan Jacobs and Travis Miguel carried forth the torch ignited by Hall of Fame inductees Judas Priest with harmony guitar solos too.

Dan Jacobs of Atreyu performing in Phoenix
Dan Jacobs (Guitarist), Atreyu
| Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

It is difficult to define the musical style of Atreyu as they weave through fast heavy hitters like opener “Baptize” (the title track of their latest album release), to the anthemic “Warrior” that trudges forward, and then to the fun shuffle of the song “Falling Down” from 2008’s Lead Sails Paper Anchor.

Before ending the night, Saller had a Freddie Mercury “Ay-oh” moment with the crowd that started with simple melodies and ended up bringing smiles to faces as he sang Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” and Salt-N-Peppa’s “Push It”.

There’s nothing better than a little cowbell to end a great set and Atreyu pulled another fun one from the archive with “Blow” that originally featured Josh Todd (Buckcherry). Saller had some sentimental last words: “We are more than just a band, we’re a family.” And with that we were welcomed into the family as they took their last bows.

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Photographer: Rodrigo Izquierdo

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Nothing More | Atreyu | Eva Under Fire

Nothing More, Atreyu, & Eva Under Fire – The Van Buren 6-16-22

Photography © Reagle Photography
All Rights Reserved


Nothing More Setlist – Phoenix

  1. Turn It Up Like (Stand In Fire)
  2. Let ‘Em Burn
  3. Christ Copyright
  4. Mr. MTV
  5. Do You Really Want It
  6. Tunnels
  7. Jenny
  8. Don’t Stop
  9. Go To War
  10. I’ll Be OK
  11. Tired Of Winning
  12. Fadein/Fadeout
  13. This Is The Time (Ballast)
Nothing More setlist – Phoenix 6-16-22

Atreyu Setlist – Phoenix

  1. Strange Powers of Prophecy
  2. Baptize
  3. Becoming the Bull
  4. Right Side of the Bed
  5. The Time Is Now
  6. Ex’s and Oh’s
  7. Save Us
  8. Falling Down
  9. Battle Drums
  10. Warrior
  11. I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Snippet)
  12. Blow

Eva Under Fire Setlist – Phoenix

  1. Comatose
  2. Blow
  3. Unstoppable
  4. Heroin(e)
  5. Another Shot
  6. The Strong
  7. Coming 4 Blood
  8. Separate Ways
Eva Under Fire setlist – Phoenix 6-16-22

REVIEW: Tori Amos Puts On a Grand Show at the Historic Orpheum Theater (6-12-22)

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PHOENIX — Tori Amos’ show at Orpheum Theater on her “Ocean to Ocean Tour”, with support from Companion, was a sold out event. In this grand structure of a venue, a ceiling painted like the sky and lit with starlight, the audience seemed to recognize we were in the presence of herstory, and everything was absolutely glowing. 

Amos is an institution. Amos has never been the pop princess, the sexy body image icon. She is a voice. She’s a siren, she’s a chanteuse—she’s been the one reminding us since the 90’s that a voice in itself is powerful. More than Pride month, more than the LGBTQIA+ crowd – a lot of patchouli, if you know what I mean – this night was about storytelling, and the tools a woman can use to tell a full story: a voice, a piano.


Companion performing live at Orpheum Theatre
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

The opener was a duo called Companion, composed of identical twins Sophia and Jo Babb. These sisters were soft-spoken, funny. Denim-clad from Oklahoma City, they emphasized how grateful they were opening for Tori Amos and that this was their first tour. The pair were charming, and, as my fellow photojournalist comments, had great “candor” with their audience. I’d characterize their sound as slow, melodic, and sleepy—bedtime music—though we, the audience, learned quite a bit about their lives in the short opening act. While I’d be tempted to say Companion held us in the palms of their hands, maybe we just felt held.

Jo Babb of Companion performing live at Orpheum Theatre
Jo Babb (Vocalist, Guitarist), Companion
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

Jo offered a “Sapphic love song about longing” and then Sophia talked of fate and meeting her husband. Later, they told the crowd about losing their father at the age of 13 and sang a song about grief, which they described as the “Final boss we had to kill to get to the next stage.” Sophia relates that she wrote this for their mom.

Sophia Babb of Companion performing live at Orpheum Theatre
Sophia Babb (Vocalist, Guitarist), Companion
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

Above all, Companion supplied great storytelling; their final song “Labyrinth” was about things getting better. The opening set was sleepy and slow, but in the way of great storytelling, was in no rush, like we have our whole lives to tell it. On Companion’s Instagram they said they write “songs to feel to” and this is mostly accurate. Sometimes we have to slow down to feel, and the duo raised immaculate harmonies in the way of twin lore.

Tori Amos

Amos appeared amid a swirling red background and an eager crowd standing through the opening two songs. She opened with “Juárez” from 1999’s To Venus and Back.  At the song’s fade, the red-swirling background faded purple, then pink, into her second song: “Bouncing Off Clouds.” 

Tori Amos performing live at Orpheum Theatre
Tori Amos (Vocalist, Pianist)
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

Amos has mastered the power stance, like her thigh width is directly related to the intensity.  This is beyond manspreading; she positively writhes at the altar of the Bösendorfer (her longtime piano). At times bent over her piano, she almost appeared crone-like, though we will never say this of Tori, but it is undeniable this woman was casting a spell. 

Tori Amos performing live at Orpheum Theatre
Tori Amos (Vocalist, Pianist)
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

While the night featured only one full cover, “House of the Rising Son,” she used multiple covers as interludes during her songs, including The Doors’ “Riders on the Storm,” worked in with “Father’s Song” from 2007’s American Doll Posse. However, it was in the song preceding that, “Bliss” from To Venus and Back, when she incorporated Kate Bush’s  “Running Up That Hill.” When the audience exploded to their feet for the beloved song that is now more than 3 decades old, it was a delight, and it fueled a glorious, vibrant performance. 

Tori Amos (Vocalist, Pianist)
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

Following the show, I rewatched her 2014 performance of this song from a stop in Kansas City. Maybe this has been propelled by recently being brought to a whole new generation via its use in season 4 of Netflix’s Stranger Things, but her rendition of it has evolved. It now has a thunderous, pounding rhythm that was a true highlight to the show. Can one call a cover superior to the original? Like, legally? ‘Cause I think that’s what I’m doing. 

Tori Amos performing live at Orpheum Theatre
Tori Amos (Vocalist, Pianist)
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

I’d say if the show had a sub-theme to the main one of impeccable female-centric storytelling, it would be a perceptible attention to the zeitgeist of change. For her 8th song she played “Winter” from her breakout album Little Earthquakes, which holds the lyric “things are gonna change so fast.” With all that we’ve been through the past two years, the pandemic, all now together worshiping in this beautiful room at the foot of a goddess and her piano, I kept thinking about our lives as vectors for change. I sat next to a woman who brought her son and had driven down from Sedona. She was so clearly excited to be there, her son more hesitant. He too, like the rest of us, can’t see the change that’s ahead of us.

Tori Amos (Vocalist, Pianist)
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

Amos has changed, too; halfway through the show, she had a false start and had to ask a member of her road crew for her glasses. Still, she was definitely feeling the love from her audience. Positively radiant in her salmon-colored jumpsuit, Tori rounded out the show by ending on another classic (a personal favorite) from Little Earthquakes, “Cornflake Girl,” to inspire the third standing ovation of the evening. Her vibratos on the line, “You bet your life it is” echoed throughout the Orpheum. 

Tori Amos performing live at Orpheum Theatre
Tori Amos (Vocalist, Pianist)
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

What’s almost more endearing at every Tori Amos show are all of the superfans, the ones who know every word. This crowd, undeniably hers, was visibly and audibly present this night, too, drawing Tori out for an encore. The lighting was immersive, evoking the feeling of being drawn into a fourth dimension in pinks and blues. It all felt so rich, so special, like all of her stans got to celebrate Amos – her voice clear as a bell and her piano chords striking just the right spaces in our hearts – nearing the end of her “Ocean to Ocean Tour” together, like some kind of deal with God.

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Tori Amos Setlist – Phoenix 6-12-22

  1. Juárez  
  2. Bouncing Off Clouds (with “Reindeer King” interlude)
  3. Addition of Light Divided
  4. Don’t Make Me Come to Vegas
  5. Ocean to Ocean
  6. Bliss (with “Running Up That Hill” interlude)
  7. Father’s Son (with “Riders on the Storm” interlude)
  8. Winter (Solo; preceded by “Crazy” false start)
  9. Crazy (Solo)
  10. Russia
  11. The House of the Rising Sun (traditional cover)
  12. God
  13. Amber Waves
  14. Spring Haze
  15. Devil’s Bane
  16. Cornflake Girl


  1. Tombigbee
  2. Raspberry Swirl 

Photo Galleries

Photographer: Katherine Amy Vega

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Tori Amos | Companion

Tori Amos & Companion – Orpheum Theatre 6-12-22

Photography © Katherine Amy Vega, Kataklizmic Design
All Rights Reserved.

REVIEW: Failure Lands in the Desert for Crescent Ballroom Show (6-5-22)

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Phoenix, AZ — Failure returned to Crescent Ballroom for the third time since their reunion in late 2013, much to the delight of an eager and boisterous crowd. This was the first US tour in over 3 years, thanks to COVID, and was to support their newest album Wild Type Droid. This is their sixth studio album, and marks a major change for the band. Their previous albums have carried the band and their followers into outer space – one of the descriptors of the band is “space rock” – but this time the theme of the album will be a bit different. In a press release, guitarist and bassist Greg Edwards stated that “This feels like a good place and time to abandon the space iconography and theme once and for all. In a lot of ways, this album feels like a return to earth. All minds have been called back to their bodies. There’s a lot to attend to right in front of us.

Failure promo photo
Photography: Priscilla C. Scott

As Failure reached down to firmly grasp terra firma once more, their fans welcomed the news of the latest tour with open arms and thinly veiled excitement. They have been described as having “cult status” by Rolling Stone, and based on the buzz that was flowing through the venue as fans eagerly awaited their beloved band, it is a fitting moniker. Failure, formed in 1992, has embraced social media with a fierceness that is not often seen in bands that formed before the amalgamation of the internet and social media. In an era where word of mouth was currency, they built a following through tours with Tool, and a solid discography that has withstood the test of time. In fact, it could be argued that while formed in the 90s, Failure is anything but a 90s band. They were merely a band before their time.  

Failure completed the albums Comfort in 1992, Magnified in 1994, and Fantastic Planet in 1996. They stepped into a Lollapalooza slot in 1997 when Korn dropped out. Citing “personal differences”, they officially broke up on November 19, 1997, only to reunite in 2013. In the interim, former Failure rhythm guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen joined A Perfect Circle, who recorded a cover of Failure’s “The Nurse Who Loved Me” for their Thirteenth Step LP. 

Failure’s cosmic sound appears on 2015’s The Heart is a Monster album and 2018’s In The Future Your Body Will Be The Furthest Thing From Your Mind. Their tour for their recent release Wild Type Droid blends celestial sounds of previous albums with the “return to earth” sound they are making now. The band may have an on again, off again relationship, but their fans are here to stay. 

In a social media announcement on March 31st, 2022, Failure informed their fans that they could preview a 30-minute trailer for their upcoming eponymous documentary, which is slated to be released in 2023. A nearly 7-minute teaser of the documentary, a trailer of the trailer as it were, was played right before Failure took the stage. This announcement of the band’s upcoming film was met with unfettered excitement online, and this carried over into the night of the show.  

Those who have attended live music events at any point know that it is not unusual for fans to slowly trickle in, but on this night the vast majority of the crowd was in the venue when the lights were turned down at exactly 8:30 pm. The extended Failure documentary trailer brought raucous cheers from the eager crowd. It is a safe bet that much of the crowd had watched the teaser online, and there was an air of anticipation. Indeed, some in the crowd cheered at every new musician or actor who appeared on the screen to discuss Failure’s impact on them personally and their music careers. 

The preview had a parade of big music industry names: Hayley Williams (Paramore – who covered “Stuck On You” in their 2006 EP The Summer Tic), Maynard James Keenan (Tool, A Perfect Circle, Puscifer), Butch Vig (Garbage), Troy Sanders (Mastodon), and commentary from actress and comedian Margaret Cho, among others. As the sneak peek wrapped up, the conversation turned to the drug use that led to the band break up in 1997. As of yet, no release date has been given for the Failure documentary.

Ken Andrews (Vocalist, Guitarist), Failure
| Photography:
Kara Blakemore © All Rights Reserved

Failure’s current members are frontman and lead guitarist Ken Andrews, multi-instrumentalist and backing vocalist Greg Edwards, and drummer Kellii Scott. The trio took the stage with a “What’s happening Phoenix?” shout out from Andrews. They launched into the hard-hitting song “Submarines” off Wild Type Droid. This was the first song the band wrote after the world shut down due to the pandemic. There is a certain risk in writing a song that relates to a world changing event such as the pandemic that upended nearly every smidgen of the day to day lives of all of us, as future generations likely will not fully understand the trauma and impact it left on all of us. That is where the beauty and timelessness of the band’s songwriting comes in: while this generation will immediately understand the deeper meaning of the song, it will resonate later on for a new generation of music lovers for a completely different reason.

Greg Edwards (Guitarist), Failure
| Photography:
Kara Blakemore © All Rights Reserved

The music video released for “Submarines” consists of the band staring into the camera – giving the viewer a sensation that perhaps the band is attempting to look deep into their souls – while also having their profile featured, glitching in and out. The intensity of this video carries on to their concerts, with a focused Andrews rarely speaking – though he did acknowledge the fans who called out between the songs. His abrupt (but not rude) style of communication while on stage is a drastic contrast of his voice, which is – in itself – a juxtaposition to the music. Andrews’ smooth vocals mixed with the crunch and crash that comes with the grunge-meets-space-rock sound that Failure is associated with has a familiar and comforting feel to it. Imagine a warm, well-worn blanket wrapped around you as you stare off into space imagining the possibilities of the unknown, and you have an idea of what a concert with Failure is like. 

Failure performing live at Crescent Ballroom
| Photography:
Kara Blakemore © All Rights Reserved

They pulled from each of their 6 albums during the show. Right before the band played “Counterfeit Sky” from The Heart Is a Monster, Andrews stated they were doing double shots from each album – at least two songs back-to-back from the same album. There was a single exception to this: “Salt Wound” was the sole song from Comfort, their very first album. Indeed, there was a near symmetry to the show, with 2 songs from Magnified, The Heart Is A Monster, and In the Future Your Body Will Be the Furthest Thing from Your Mind, as well as 6 songs from Fantastic Planet, and 6 from Wild Type Droid

As incredible as the evening was, it was not without some small flaws. The first was when the sound cut out suddenly during the opening moments of “Distorted Fields,” stopping everyone except Scott, who was so focused on his craft – and also had headphones on – that he continued to drum for a few more seconds. While the sound techs scrambled to get the show back on track, one fan called out “Acoustic version!” which was followed with a rimshot by Scott. The techs quickly fixed the issue, and the show got back on track. The second was a restart of fan-favorite “Stuck On You.” Neither mishap detracted from the overall magic of the show and had the paradoxical effect of enhancing it a bit with how quickly and gracefully they were handled.

Kellii Scott (Drummer), Failure
| Photography:
Kara Blakemore © All Rights Reserved

After finishing up “Half Moon,” from Wild Type Droid, during the encore, Andrews told the ecstatic audience “You may have noticed we haven’t played anything from our 3rd album.” This was rectified quickly, as the final 6 songs all came from Fantastic Planet, culminating with “Daylight,” which is also the final song on the album. 

The concert was a journey as the music videos playing behind the band throughout the night took the fans to another planet and then back to earth to get rather macro with various insects, such as a praying mantis named Iggy from their latest music video. After the finale, it felt like an extended goodbye with a long instrumental performance, and this journey came to an end with Andrews telling the fans, “Thank you Phoenix, we love you!” 

Failure performing live at Crescent Ballroom
| Photography:
Kara Blakemore © All Rights Reserved

Failure is a band that is absolutely worth going out of your way to see perform live. There are layers upon layers to their music. It would be easy to forget it’s a band of only 3 members. It is easy to see how the band continues to thrive by word of mouth, and why the fans are loyal to the point of near obsession. The praise they receive is well-founded and deserved.

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    Failure’s Phoenix Setlist

  1. Submarines
  2. Mercury Mouth
  3. Salt Wound
  4. Frogs
  5. Wonderful Life
  6. Atom City Queen
  7. Counterfeit Sky
  8. Distorted Fields
  9. Force Fed Rainbow
  10. Bring Back the Sound
  11. Headstand
  12. Bad Translation
  13. Half Moon
  14. Segue 3
  15. The Nurse Who Loved Me
  16. Another Space Song
  17. Stuck on You
  18. Heliotropic
  19. Daylight

Photo Gallery

Photography: Kara Blakemore

Failure – Crescent Ballroom 6-5-22

Photography © Electric Eye Photo AZ
All Rights Reserved

INTERVIEW: A Video Q&A with Goth Brooks’ Xiån “3pac” Austin & Mike Lee

Goth Brooks' "Freakabilly" album artwork
Goth Brooks’ “Freakabilly” album artwork

Welcome to the Record Room for the latest edition of Burning Hot Interviews. In this episode, host Ryan Novak talks with Xiån Austin [3pac] & Mike Lee of Goth Brooks about how they conceptualized the band beginning with the name, making multiple genres work within a song, wanting to compose a classical music and industrial metal hybrid symphony, the glory days of MTV, Christmas music, and carrying on after a tragic loss. Their new album Freakabilly was released on May 19th, and is available to download for free at*

* Formerly – update your links and bookmarks!

Burning Hot Interview featuring
Xiån Austin [3pac] & Mike Lee of Goth Brooks

Q & A with music journalist Ryan Novak

View on YouTube

Download the New Album Freakabilly!

About Goth Brooks

Goth Brooks
Goth Brooks

Arizona’s own Goth Brooks is a band that defies easy classification. Its members, Mike Lee, Chris “3pac” Austin, and the late Jonah “Werm” Foree each represent different genres they individually bring to the group: country, hip-hop, and metal. The group’s sound, though, stretches each of those genres to their limits, melding country, Western swing, rockabilly, industrial metal, death metal, hardcore, and gangster rap, among still more, into a sound that is fun and wholly original.

Goth Brooks released their debut LP, Moonshine and Mascara, in early 2016.

In 2017, they won 98KUPD’s Playdio with “She Thinks My Hearse is Sexy”, which granted them the opportunity to create the theme song for the morning show, Holmberg’s Morning Sickness.

The band made a very brief appearance on America’s Got Talent when auditioning in 2018. According to a Facebook comment made by Foree, “We only got flashed for like 2 seconds… It was weird, because the filming crew literally pulled us aside, out of the long line, and spent over an hour filming us doing different things. But in the end, the producers put us on the cutting room floor… The tryout & trip to Vegas was still a blast though!

The Christmas in Black EP was released in August of 2021. Following the tragic passing of Foree, Goth Brooks released their second studio album Freakabilly on May 19. Just like their previous releases, the 13-track album is available to download from their website for free. It is also available to stream on Spotify in a 9-track form.

Goth Brooks online:

LAMB OF GOD Reveals New Album & Tour Details

Lamb of God follows 2020’s No. 1 Hard Rock Album with a vicious new testament. Riding high on a creative renaissance saluted by the likes of Rolling Stone and NME, the Grammy-nominated goliath returns with the gloriously unhinged Omens, produced by longtime collaborator Josh Wilbur (Korn, Megadeth).

Omens Arrives October 7

The first single, “Nevermore,” arrives on Friday, June 10. Omens follows on October 7 via Epic Records.

Lamb of God Omens album cover
Lamb of God’s “Omens” album artwork

The New Wave Of American Heavy Metal architects will support the new album with a massive Live Nation produced U.S. headlining tour, The Omens Tour, featuring special guests Killswitch Engage on all dates. Different legs will also see support from Baroness, Motionless In White, Spiritbox, Animals As Leaders as well as Suicide Silence and Fit For An Autopsy. The tour kicks off September 9 in Brooklyn and runs through October 20, see full routing below. Tickets go on sale starting Friday, June 10 at 10am local time here.

Citi is the official card of the The Omens Tour. Citi cardmembers will have access to presale tickets beginning Tuesday, June 7 at 10am ET until Thursday, June 9 at 10pm local time through the Citi Entertainment program. For complete presale details visit Citi Entertainment®

“Two decades ago, Lamb of God, along with Killswitch Engage, were a part of a new wave of American heavy metal music. Our scene grew from a small, loosely connected network of underground shows in basements and warehouses, into a global phenomenon that helped define an entire generation of modern heavy metal. We are thrilled to announce The Omens Tour, which celebrates not only the perseverance and impact of that original movement, but also the creativity and originality of the bands that it influenced. Heavy metal is alive and well. The Omens Tour proudly showcases the depth and diversity of our scene. This is not a tour to miss.” – Mark Morton

Densely muscular, soaked in unnerving spite, with a pessimistic eye toward inner struggles and global affairs alike, Omens is a furious entry in the Lamb Of God catalog, perhaps their angriest album yet. “The world is crazy and keeps changing. Omens is a reaction to the state of the world,” explains vocalist D. Randall Blythe. “It’s a very pissed-off record.” He pauses for emphasis. “It is extremely pissed-off.”

Omens is also Lamb Of God’s most diverse affair. The band tracked live in the room together at Henson Recording Studios (formerly A&M Studios) in Los Angeles, California, a location that birthed classics from The Doors, Pink Floyd, The Ramones, and Soundgarden, among others. “The inner workings of the band have never been better,” explains guitarist Mark Morton. “You can hear it in Omens. You can see it in our performances, and if you’re around us for five minutes, you can feel it.”

The Omens album pre-order is live now here, boasting several exclusive items, including a signed colored vinyl variant, shirt, hoodie, and signed CDs with an alternate color cover. All physical CD and Vinyl releases will include a free access code to watch the livestream viewing of “The Making of Omens” documentary, which will premiere the week of album release.

Omens Tracklist:

  1. Nevermore
  2. Vanishing
  3. To The Grave
  4. Ditch
  5. Omens
  6. Gomorrah
  7. Ill Designs
  8. Grayscale
  9. Denial Mechanism
  10. September Song
Lamb of God Omens Tour

The Omens Tour dates:

Lamb of God w/ Killswitch Engage, Baroness, Suicide Silence

  • Sep 09 – Brooklyn, NY – Coney Island
  • Sep 10 – Camden, NJ – Freedom Mortgage Pavilion
  • Sep 11 – Alton, VA – Blue Ridge Music Festival
  • Sep 13 – Youngstown, OH – Youngstown Foundation Amphitheater
  • Sep 14 – Baltimore, MD – Chesapeake Employers Insurance Arena
  • Sep 16 – Atlanta, GA – Coca Cola Roxy
  • Sep 17 – Jacksonville, FL – Daily’s Place
  • Sep 18 – Tampa, FL – MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre
  • Sep 21 – Boston, MA – MGM Music Hall at Fenway
  • Sep 23 – Louisville, KY – Louder Than Life Festival *No KSE, No Suicide Silence
  • Sep 24 – Chicago, IL – Huntington Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island
  • Sep 25 – Sterling Heights, MI – Michigan Lottery Amp at Freedom Hill
  • Sep 26 – Indianapolis, IN – TCU Amphitheater at White River State Park
  • Sep 30 – Denver, CO – Fillmore Auditorium

Lamb of God w/ Killswitch Engage, Motionless In White, Fit For An Autopsy

  • Oct 01 – Salt Lake City, UT – The Great SaltAir
  • Oct 02 – Grand Junction, CO – Amphitheater at Las Colonias Park *
  • Oct 04 – Fresno, CA – Exhibit Hall at Selland Arena
  • Oct 07 – Sacramento, CA – Aftershock Festival *No Fit For An Autopsy

Lamb of God w/ Killswitch Engage, Spiritbox, Fit For An Autopsy

  • Oct 09 – Vancouver, BC – Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre
  • Oct 10 – Kent (Seattle), WA – Accesso ShoWare Center *
  • Oct 11 – Portland, OR – Theater of the Clouds

Lamb of God w/ Killswitch Engage, Animals As Leaders, Fit For An Autopsy

  • Oct 13 – Inglewood, CA – YouTube Theater
  • Oct 14 – Phoenix, AZ – Arizona Federal Theater
  • Oct 15 – Albuquerque, NM – Isleta Amphitheater
  • Oct 16 – El Paso, TX – UTEP Don Haskins Center
  • Oct 18 – San Antonio, TX – Freeman Coliseum
  • Oct 19 – Houston, TX – 713 Music Hall
  • Oct 20 – Irving, TX – The Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory

*Not A Live Nation Date

Lamb of God is:

  • D. Randall Blythe – Vocals
  • Mark Morton – Guitar
  • Willie Adler – Guitar
  • John Campbell – Bass
  • Art Cruz – Drums

Lamb of God online:

Featured photo (top) by Travis Shinn

REVIEW: Yngwie Malmsteen & 3 Powerhouse Openers Play with Relentless Fury in Tempe (5-24-22)

Parabellum album artwork

Tempe, AZ — Swedish neo-classical metal guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen thrilled eager Marquee Theatre guests, along with openers Jessikill, Culprit and Deimer.  The May 24th show was part of the “Parabellum Tour 2022”, named after Malmsteen’s 2021 album. He has been known as the gold-standard of guitar players throughout his career and fans couldn’t get enough of his masterful riffs, or the giant wall of 44 Marshall amplifiers. The show definitely “goes to 11” – as multiple people mused, referring to the famous line from “Spinal Tap”. How could it not? This tour doesn’t skimp on skills or thrills!


Jessikill from San Antonio, Texas opened the show with power-metal songs so heavy you can feel the bass in your soul. Led by Jessica Marie Espinoza on vocals, the band boasts 3 albums and awards that include “Best Metal Band”, “Top Local Band of the Year” and “Best Female Performer” at the 2016 SANA Awards. Jessikill has played opening spots for such national acts as John 5, Faster Pussycat and Jake E. Lee since they formed in 2012.

Jessikill live at Marquee Theatre
Jessica Marie Espinoza (Vocalist), Jessikill
| Photography:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

On lead guitar and keyboard is the talented Jyro Alejo, on drums is Jordan Ames, and bringing that big bass sound is Arturo Knight, who is also a backup vocalist. Regrettably, their set was short, clocking in at 18 minutes. It was hardly enough to showcase Espinoza’s vocals, which switched from a rough growling to high-note harmonies with effortless transitions, leaving the room wanting more. 


Seattle’s pre-grunge era band Culprit played a six song set, including title track “Layin’ Down the Law” and “Holy Roller” from their upcoming album. Established in 1981, Culprit tours with one original band member, bassist Scott Earl, and the current lineup includes Gabriel Colon on vocals, Fred Aching on drums, and P.J. Toyne on guitar.

Scott Earl of Culprit live at Marquee Theatre
Scott Earl (Bassist), Culprit
| Photography:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

The band’s Wikipedia page cites the original band’s break-up in 1985 to pursue “other endeavors”. Culprit still maintains an 80’s hair-metal band feel, sound, and look. Colon sings while swinging the microphone stand in a Steven Tyler-esque fashion, dressed in white leather hip-hugging pants and jacket with no shirt. Limited only by the seemingly short set, Culprit’s act stood the test of time and proved to be a solid opener for the tour. 


Not many musicians have IMDB credits that include being killed by Michael Myers in the “Halloween” movie series, but Kurt Deimer does. His character “Teller” didn’t survive the 2018 film with Jamie Lee Curtis, but Deimer is the one killing it in real life. He has a diverse resume including his title of President and Chief Executive Officer of Coolants Plus, Inc. (a wholesale chemical company), further IMDB acting and producing credits, and leader of the band Bald Man, whose 10 song debut album Music For the Rest of Us was released in 2020. 

Kurt Deimer live at Marquee Theatre
Kurt Deimer (Vocalist)
| Photography:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

In 2022, Deimer and Canadian Bon Jovi guitarist Phil X (Xenidis) joined forces to provide direct support for the Parabellum tour. Deimer, sporting a black top hat and bedazzled beard, took the stage with a powerful presence. Teetering on the stage’s edge, he enticed the crowd with his catchy harmonies and haunting spoken lyrics on the band’s songs “Hero”, “Only Time Will Tell”, and “Back of the School”, as well as a metal version of Pink Floyd’s “Have a Cigar”. The set concluded with a heartfelt plea by Deimer to the crowd, asking that we “be nice to each other”. 

Phill X with Deimer at Marquee Theatre
Phil X (Guitarist), Deimer
| Photography:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

Yngwie Malmsteen

In researching Yngwie Malmsteen, the term “virtuoso” is used repeatedly to describe him. Born Lars Johan Yngve Lannerbäck in Stockholm, Sweden, Malmsteen’s first band was formed when he was only ten years old. His musical influences included the classical genre, and in particular, the genius of Johann Sebastian Bach, as well as more contemporary artists, such as Ritchie Blackmore. His forty-year career includes 22 studio albums, and in 2009 Time Magazine named Malmsteen number 9 amongst the 11 greatest guitar players of all time. 

Yngwie Malmsteen live at Marquee Theatre
Yngwie Malmsteen (Guitarist)
| Photography:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

Malmsteen played a ninety-minute set, covering a variety of hits from his expansive music career. Setting the mood were red stage lighting and fog machines, and the sound from the wall of Marshall amplifiers was so intense it felt like it could knock you into the wall. A cover of “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple with vocals by Malmsteen and a very metal version of the “Star Spangled Banner” were interlaced with classical and bluesy riffs. A master at his craft, Malmsteen plays with a finesse and skill unlike any other and sets the bar for aspiring guitarists. 

Yngwie Malmsteen live at Marquee Theatre
Yngwie Malmsteen (Guitarist)
| Photography:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

A fan commented on the artist’s official Facebook page that his wall of Marshall amplifiers was fake, but Malmsteen was quick to retort, “I know it’s really sad, they’re very expensive and I take the real deal and everyone is accusing me of them being empty, it’s ridiculous :(”. Another fan made the astute observation that “The Great Wall of China and Yngvie’s wall of Marshalls are the only man-made objects visible from space.” They’re not wrong. 

Yngwie Malmsteen live at Marquee Theatre
Yngwie Malmsteen (Guitarist)
| Photography:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

This was a Tuesday night that won’t soon be forgotten. It was mind-blowing. The 2021 release of the Parabellum album is available online, and one can assume it’s as fierce through headphones as it was live. “Parabellum” is a well put-together tour with the unique combination of Jessikill, Culprit, Deimer, and Yngwie Malmsteen.

Photo Gallery

Photographer: Mark Greenawalt

Yngwie Malmsteen, Jessikill, Deimer, & Culprit – Marquee Theatre 5-24-22

Photography © Mark Greenawalt.
All Rights Reserved

INTERVIEW: A Video Q&A with Crashing Cairo’s Robert Wax

On the cusp of the release of the Crashing Cairo’s next single “Souls”, frontman Robert Wax discusses how the Beatles and David Bowie made him fall in love with music, the importance of U2, full-circle moments, working with legends, drawing inspiration from a radio contest, and what the future holds for the band, in the inaugural Burning Hot Interview video.

Burning Hot Interview featuring
Robert Wax of Crashing Cairo

Q&A with music journalist Ryan Novak

Watch on YouTube

Crashing Cairo’s New Track “Souls” to Release on July 8, 2022

About Crashing Cairo

Monday Changed Everything album artwork

Hailing from metro Detroit, Crashing Cairo first broke onto the scene with their 2008 debut Monday Changed Everything, and the band has been going steady ever since. On their 10th anniversary, their EP At Speeds that Destroy brought some exciting new course for the group, as a shot-in-the-dark email by Wax gave them the opportunity to work with not one but two legendary producers. Wax is a modern-day renaissance man, as he is not only a singer and songwriter but also an actor, writer, and producer. 

Crashing Cairo’s “89HRS” Music Video

Listen to Crashing Cairo on KWSS
Listen to Crashing Cairo on “The Jaw Cairo Show” on KWSS, FM 93.9 in Phoenix

Crashing Cairo Online:

INTERVIEW: Brooklane – Now Celebrating the Release of “Breakaway”

"Breakaway" single artwork
“Breakaway” single artwork

Pop-punk band Brooklane recently released their new single “Breakaway” on April 28th of this year, and they are gearing up for a tour with details yet to be revealed (get notified here). Inspired by bands like The Story So Far, State Champs, and Neck Deep, they debuted with the Roll With the Punches EP during the pandemic in 2020. 

Burning Hot Events’ music journalist Ryan Novak and Brooklane discuss the new single, recording during the pandemic, cover art, mental health, new directions for the band, and more.

"Breakaway" on Spotify

Brooklane Interview

Q & A with music journalist Ryan Novak

RYAN: What was the recording experience like for your debut “Roll With the Punches” (2020)? Was it recorded pre-pandemic?

“The recording experience for “Roll With The Punches” was pretty standard for the most part until the pandemic hit. We had to find ways to finish recording safely. Luckily, we just had to add finishing touches and were able to release it during the pandemic.”

RYAN: “Roll With the Punches” was first released as an EP but is now listed as a deluxe LP released in 2021.

When was the decision made to expand it?

“We made the decision to expand it because we wanted to provide our fans with alternative reimagined versions, as well as softer songs to diversify our catalog.”

RYAN: I’m always fascinated by cover art. Your early singles and first album all featured color variations on the same image: of an arm preparing to throw a Molotov cocktail.

Roll With the Punches EP artwork
“Roll With the Punches” EP artwork

Was there a reason behind this specific image, especially with the political upheaval in America these last five years?

Honestly, that cover art has no greater meaning other than being reflective of our energetic and explosive sound, while staying true to our band’s visual aesthetic.

RYAN: The album has got some strong punk, pop punk, and hardcore DNA in it, which makes the tracks “Here to Stay” and “Empty Room” stick out to me. The slower tempo and acoustic guitars really highlight the heartbreak of the lyrics on each.

Were both songs always written to be more emotionally raw in that way?

Yes! Both of the songs were intentionally written to be more emotionally raw. We always try to pull from all of our personal experiences to help as many people as possible. Fun fact, “Empty Room” was never written for Brooklane and almost didn’t make the record.

Brooklane promo photo

RYAN: As a huge fan of punk and hardcore, what always drew me to it was that the music provided an emotional outlet for pent-up emotions. The best bands to do it always have lyrics that express these same feelings. “Here to Stay” and “Bite the Bullet” dig into dealing with a broken heart, and “Anxiety” deals with mental illness and reminds me, at least thematically, of The Offspring’s “Gotta Get Away.”

While a lot of people will share more freely about dealing with heartbreak or regret over a breakup, there’s still a societal stigma with mental health. Was it difficult being as open on “Anxiety”?

Anxiety is something that we all struggle with as band members and it is so important to us to be open and honest to our fans who may benefit from relating to what we are going through. We write these songs to help our personal healing journeys, but more importantly, for everyone else in the world who may be struggling. If we didn’t open up about these hard topics in the hopes to destigmatize these conversations, we would be doing a disservice as musicians with a platform.

RYAN: The deluxe edition of the album featured reimagined versions of “Anxiety” and “Ship Wrecked,” which highlights the melodies of each song even more.

What was the inspiration behind doing these reimagined tracks, and could they be a possible direction the band might take on future albums?

We really wanted to produce these reimagined tracks to further diversify our catalog and give our fans musical variety overall. We felt strongly like some of these more emotional songs should have more emotional instrumentals. We definitely hope to continue weaving these types of tracks into our albums in the future!

"Breakaway" single artwork
“Breakaway” single artwork

RYAN: I really like the new single “Breakaway” because it feels like the whole band leveled up on the song, especially because it has a great “firework” music moment with the sort of muted opening chords building to an explosion as the band goes full force into the song. Across the board, it feels like everyone really shines.

Was there a feeling during the writing and recording of the song that this would be something as special as it seems for the band?

“Breakaway” is a song that we all really love and all individually relate to as members as it was written based upon our own personal experiences. With that said, we really wanted to give it the spotlight it deserved as a single, especially during Mental Health Awareness month.

You just announced that you’ll be crowdsourcing your next album.

What motivated this decision to have direct support from your fans ahead of the release?

“We are headed into the studio with Andrew Wade next month to create our dream EP, and thought this would be a great opportunity to ask for support from our fans to help us in our mission to destigmatize mental health by utilizing our music to start important conversations so we all feel less alone in this world.”

Brooklane live in concert

What are you most looking forward to about playing on tour? Obviously “Breakaway” will get its first live performances across the cities…

“We have a ton of shows in the works for this year and can’t wait to finally connect with our fans in person.” 

Chief State and Brooklane tour admat

Brooklane Online:

REVIEW: Pearl Jam Puts on a Big Show With Small-Club Intimacy in Phoenix (5-9-22)

Glendale, AZ — Pearl Jam’s concert at Gila River Arena, with support from Pluralone, has been in the making for some time. You could say it’s been since the original date in May of 2020 as part of the Gigaton Tour, however, for me this show has been overdue since December of 1991, when I got a copy of Ten. I fell in love with Pearl Jam, only for the chance to see them live evade me for nearly thirty years, living in my mind through their MTV Unplugged performance, playing “Rockin’ in the Free World” with Neil Young at the MTV Video Music Awards, various talk show appearances, and multiple live albums and videos from over the years. At the show, though, I met fans who were well into double and even triple digits for seeing the band. I was assured repeatedly that it would be an unforgettable evening. 

Eddie Vedder

Considering his status in the history of rock ‘n’ roll, it was surprising for the show to open with Eddie Vedder strolling out alone without any undue fanfare and simply introducing himself to the crowd with, “Hi, I’m Ed.

Eddie Vedder - Gila River Arena
Eddie Vedder (Vocalist, Guitarist)
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

Anyone who follows Pearl Jam’s setlists online for each tour stop would have been aware that he’s been doing this on the tour, treating the crowd, so far, to solo covers of Warren Zevon’s “Keep Me in Your Heart for a While” during the tour opener in San Diego, and a double dose of Tom Petty with “I Won’t Back Down” on night 1 in Inglewood and “Wildflowers” on night two. For Arizona, he played his own “Far Behind” from the soundtrack he did for Into the Wild. Vedder’s voice is so powerful, so transcendent, that even for those who might not be familiar with his emotional score for the film were quickly enveloped in its beauty. As he wrapped up the song, he gave an introduction to the show’s opener Josh Klinghoffer, heaping praise on him. 


I’m really excited to be here, but I’m gonna play a song that doesn’t sound like I am”, Klinghoffer greeted the crowd, following Vedder’s introduction. Billed under his project Pluralone, the talented multi-instrumentalist filled the arena through a variety of instruments, even if he took moments to jokingly chastise some of the more complicated electric instruments for not working properly. Mid-set, he gave a shout out to one of Arizona’s greatest bands, asking, “How can I be in Phoenix, Arizona without paying homage to the Meat Puppets?!”, before launching into a cover of “Backwater” from their 1994 album Too High To Die

Pluralone - Gila River Arena
Josh Klinghoffer (Vocalist, Multi-instrumentalist), Pluralone
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

Most are familiar with Klinghoffer for his time with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but if you are not already, it is well worth your time to check out the music he is making as Pluralone. The sounds he is able to produce solo would leave anyone believing they were listening to a full band if they only closed their eyes as they took it all in. 

Pluralone - Gila River Arena
Josh Klinghoffer (Vocalist, Multi-instrumentalist), Pluralone
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

He closed out his set with a cover of John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band’s “Give Peace a Chance,” noting that it was Victory Day in Russia. I don’t know why they call it that since they’re the ones starting all the wars. 

He got the crowd to join in on the chorus and played around with the lyrics, even working in a tribute to the departed Taylor Hawkins with “Everybody talkin’ ‘bout Taylor Hawkins… Taylor Hawkins… man I miss Taylor Hawkins,” which elicited cheers from all corners of the arena. “This might be presumptuous of me, but I thought we’d just keep singing it until Pearl Jam comes out in 30 minutes. If you do, I’ll cover Jane’s Addition,” he jokingly offered before exiting the stage, leaving the crowd to solo acapella the final run through the chorus. 

Pluralone - Gila River Arena
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

Pearl Jam

Every Pearl Jam show has a completely unique setlist. While a lot of bands are comfortable with having the same set night after night, with little variation, every Pearl Jam performance is completely fresh. This is why “Wash” was a shocker as a show opener. First appearing as a B-side on different editions of their first single “Alive,” it’s a darker song and not what you might expect from Pearl Jam, but it still crackled with an electricity, as the band performed bathed in a blue light. It was like a prayer cast from darkness and despair just hoping for salvation. As the song faded, they immediately launched into “Given to Fly” from Yield, which brought the few people who weren’t already standing to their feet. 

Eddie Vedder (Vocalist) & Matt Cameron (Drummer), Pearl Jam
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

After over 30 years, Pearl Jam is still anchored by founding members Eddie Vedder, Mike McCready, Stone Gossard, and Jeff Ament, and hasn’t had any changes since Matt Cameron took over the drums on the band’s fifth album Yield. The touring band is filled out by Boom Gaspar, a Hawaiin native Vedder met through C.J. Ramone, and by Klinghoffer pulling double duty throughout the tour. Collectively, they are as tight a band as you are going to find in this or any generation. 

Pearl Jam - Gila River Arena
Pearl Jam
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

I don’t know how it feels out there, but it feels pretty good up here,” an enthusiastic Vedder told the crowd. Pearl Jam’s performance came almost exactly on the two year anniversary of when it was originally scheduled, in May of 2020 to support their 11th studio album Gigaton. “Good things come to those who wait. My good friend Tom Petty used to say the waiting was the hardest part,” he added. Pearl Jam never makes any stop on their tour feel like just another show for the band and throughout the night, Vedder launched into several monologues with the crowd that showed how Phoenix was a special stop for them.

Eddie Vedder (Vocalist) & Matt Cameron (Drummer), Pearl Jam
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

 One such moment came when Vedder told the story of Tom and Avis. In 1988, when Eddie Vedder wasn’t “Eddie Vedder the lead singer of Pearl Jam and member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame” but was just a young, directionless kid like any of us at that age, he was driving through Arizona on his way back to San Diego and his car broke down in Gila Bend. Stranded and with no money, he was taken in by an older couple named Tom and Avis who gave him a place to stay while his car was being repaired. Today any of us would be more than willing to let Eddie Vedder crash at our place for a day or two, but to take in a broke, stranded kid named Ed Vedder speaks to the inherent good we sometimes forgets still thrives in the world, even when everything else seems, at times, to be relentlessly awful. 

The story of Tom and Avis was followed with a soulful rendition of “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town” and quickly followed by “Corduroy” and “Quick Escape,” the latter off of Gigaton, showing that the new work stands toe-to-toe with the band’s back-catalog classics. 

Pearl Jam - Gila River Arena
Jeff Ament (Bassist), Eddie Vedder (Vocalist), & Matt Cameron (Drummer), Pearl Jam
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

“You have the freedom to fuck up and learn and grow from fucking up. If anyone tries to judge you for fucking up it’s probably because they’ve fucked up and are trying to divert attention form their fuck ups by making you feel bad for yours,” Vedder told the crowd; though attributing the words to Jeff Ament. They then dipped back into Ten, the band’s run through “Why Go,” which had the crowd air guitaring and shouting the lyrics into the rafters. Vedder shouted out the Arizona Coyotes for loaning the band their arena for the night and acknowledging Coyotes players Christian Fischer and Clayton Keller, who were at the show. He dedicated Gigaton’s “Superblood Wolfmoon” to them. “I figure Wolf is close enough to Coyote.” 

Pearl Jam
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

All across social media prior to the show was an ADOT highway sign reading “Even Flow on the gas. Keep left to pass,” which amused the band. “Shoutout to the pot-smoking employee who made that sign. Life’s incredible, so keep eating those edibles,” Vedder laughed. The moment of amusement was followed by the band performing “Even Flow,” which featured Mike McCready doing an extended mid-song guitar solo behind his head in one of the most awe-inspiring moments of the night. Following “Dance of the Clairvoyants,” Vedder talked about the band’s friend, retired astronaut Scott Kelly. At Kelly’s request, the band played “Black,” arguably Pearl Jam’s greatest song. 

Afterwards, Vedder talked about the band’s admiration for former state representative Gabby Gifford and her husband Senator Mark Kelly (twin brother of Scott Kelly). He then turned his attention to the recent Supreme Court decision on Roe V. Wade, punctuating his expression of frustration about the decision with a performance of “Daughter,” tagged with a rare performance of “W.M.A.,” (both from Vs), tweaking the lyrics to “Police shot my daughter again…” It was one of the night’s highlights. They followed it with “Porch,” which was the song the band closed their 1992 MTV Unplugged performance with and Vedder took a sharpie and wrote “Pro Choice” on his arm. 

Crowd at the Pearl Jam concert at Gila River Arena
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

With the crowd riding the high wave of “Porch,” the band exited the stage briefly, returning with haste. “We’re having too much fun to be gone for too long! Before playing the first song of the encore, Vedder put a spotlight, literally, on his niece who was at the show (missing her graduation from ASU to do so) and dedicated the No Code gem “Smile” to her. 

We lost so many wonderful people in the last few years, like my friend Tom Petty. We also recently lost Eddie Van Halen who was a friend.” This set up Mike McCready to show off exactly why he is one of the greatest guitar players of his generation, as he busted out a solo cover of Van Halen’s “Eruption.” Following “Do the Evolution,” Vedder told the story of a woman he had met who had lost her sister to COVID. With her in attendance, he dedicated a gorgeous rendition of “Better Man” to her. “This is for all the badass women out there and all the badass men who support them”, Vedder said as a set up to the band’s cover of Eddie Holland’s “Leaving Home.” 

Pearl Jam - Gila River Arena
05/09/2022 Photography: Rodrigo Izquierdo, Burning Hot Events

As “Leaving Home” faded out, they shifted into performing “Alive,” a song that seems to take on a special significance over the years as a reminder that even in the worst of times, to appreciate your continued survival. The crowd sing-along was the connective tissue of the night, bringing everyone together for a beautiful moment. In those moments, the personal, philosophical, political, religious, and whatever difference that tragically gets too much focus in our day-to-day existence vashined, as the chorus echoed from every corner of the arena and collectively rose to the heavens. If “Wash” started us in darkness and despair, then “Alive” pulled us out, refreshed, and renewed like a musical baptism. 

Pearl Jam and the backing audience at Gila River Arena
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

As they closed out the night with the grace and beauty that is “Yellow Ledbetter,” the “Jeremy” B-side-turned-beloved-live-show-staple and bonafide Pearl Jam classic, we were each sent out into the cool desert evening knowing that even in the most dire of times, there are the Tom and Avis’s of the world passing along simple acts of kindness to a stranger and there is a good fight to be fought, because even the smallest of us is capable of so much more than we think. It was a night worth the two-year wait. It was a night worth my 30-year wait.

Pearl Jam Setlist from Phoenix 5-9-22: 

  • Wash (tour debut)
  • Given to Fly
  • Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town
  • Corduroy
  • Quick Escape
  • Why Go
  • Superblood Wolfmoon
  • Alright (tour debut)
  • Even Flow
  • Dance of the Clairvoyants
  • Black (with “We Belong Together” tag)
  • I Got Id (tour debut)
  • Red Mosquito (tour debut)
  • Sleeping by Myself (Eddie Vedder song) (tour debut)
  • Daughter (with “W.M.A.” tag)
  • Porch


  • Smile (tour debut)
  • Eruption (Van Halen cover) (tour debut)
  • Do the Evolution
  • Better Man (“Save It For Later” tease)
  • Leaving Here (Eddie Holland cover) (tour debut)
  • Alive
  • Yellow Ledbetter

Arch Enemy Launches ‘Sunset Over The Empire’ 7″ Pre-order; Kicks Off Tours

On July 29th, extreme metal masters Arch Enemy will unleash their 11th studio album, Deceivers, via Century Media Records. For fans that can’t wait for the record’s release, the band is now offering a new 7″, Sunset Over The Empire (due out May 20th) – with the title track also appearing on Deceivers.

Arch Enemy SOTE Album Art by CVSPE
Single cover artwork by: CVSPE

Arch Enemy’s founder and chief songwriter Michael Amott comments: “I am thrilled that we are releasing our next single ‘Sunset over the Empire’ not only digitally everywhere as usual, but also as a physical 7″ vinyl record. I’m a big fan of the vinyl format myself and I think this killer looking 7″ will be a nice collector’s item as it’s a limited run. The B-side is an instrumental we’ve never released before on a record, and the A-side is one of my fave tracks off our new upcoming album ‘Deceivers’!”

Sunset Over The Empire Tracklist:

  1. Sunset Over The Empire
  2. The Judging Eyes

Sunset Over The Empire will be released as a digital single, with video, in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

Pre-order Sunset Over The Empire  here, where the 7″ is available in the following versions:

Arch Enemy SOTE White LP
White Vinyl
(limited to 1000 copies; available via CM Distro Europe)
Arch Enemy SOTE Orange LP
Transparent Orange Vinyl
(limited to 500 copies; band exclusive)


Arch Enemy Deceivers Artwork by Alex Reisfar
Album artwork by Alex Reisfar


  1. Handshake With Hell
  2. Deceiver, Deceiver
  3. In The Eye Of The Storm
  4. The Watcher
  5. Poisoned Arrow
  6. Sunset Over The Empire
  7. House Of Mirrors
  8. Spreading Black Wings
  9. Mourning Star
  10. One Last Time
  11. Exiled From Earth


A collection of 11 tracks that are ruthlessly catchy and mercilessly violent, Deceivers stands toe-to-toe with the highlights of the band’s storied catalogue. Roaring to life with “Handshake With Hell”, Arch Enemy make it clear they are out for blood, and every track is a hit, from the moody “Poisoned Arrow” to the titanically anthemic “One Last Time“. Sounding more energized than ever, the quintet is operating at the highest level, delivering a maelstrom of diamond-hard riffing wrapped around cinematic melodies, thunderous drumming and towering vocals. Arch Enemy has proved, yet again, that they are unstoppable.

To hear more from Deceivers, the latest single, “Handshake With Hell“, can be streamed here – where the album is also available for pre-order in many limited edition formats, such as:

  • Digital album
  • Ltd. Deluxe 2LP+CD Artbook
  • Ltd. Deluxe CD Box Set
  • Ltd. Black & colored 180g LP
  • Special Edition CD

    and more
Arch Enemy 2 LP box set for Deceivers
Ltd. Deluxe 2LP+CD Artbook
Arch Enemy Deceivers STORM bundle contents
Deceivers STORM Bundle


Last week, Arch Enemy and Behemoth returned to the states to co-headline “The North American Siege 2022” tour with Napalm Death and Unto Others as special guests, before Arch Enemy appears at select summer festivals; the rescheduled “European Siege 2022” tour (with Arch Enemy, Behemoth, Carcass, Unto Others) will kick off in the fall.

See below for all dates; tickets can be purchased here.

“The North American Siege 2022” tour dates:

w/ Arch Enemy & Behemoth
+ special guests Napalm Death, Unto Others

  • Apr. 22, 2022 – Atlanta, GA @ The Eastern
  • Apr. 23, 2022 – Charlotte. NC @ The Fillmore Charlotte
  • Apr. 25, 2022 – Toronto, ON @ Rebel
  • Apr. 26, 2022 – Montreal, QC @ Mtelus
  • Apr. 28, 2022 – New York, NY @ Terminal 5
  • Apr. 29, 2022 – Philadelphia, PA @ The Fillmore Philadelphia
  • Apr. 30, 2022 – Worcester, MA @ Palladium
  • May 2, 2022 – Chicago, IL @ The Riviera Theatre
  • May 4, 2022 – Denver, CO @ Ogden Theatre
  • May 7, 2022 – Salt Lake City, UT @ The Depot
  • May 9, 2022 – Seattle, WA @ Showbox SoDo
  • May 10, 2022 – Vancouver, BC @ Vogue Theatre
  • May 11, 2022 – Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater
  • May 13, 2022 – Berkeley, CA @ The UC Theatre
  • May 15, 2022 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Hollywood Palladium

Arch Enemy 2022 festival dates:

  • Aug. 6, 2022 – Wacken, DE @ Wacken Open Air
  • Aug. 17-20, 2022 – Dinkelsbuehl, DE @ Summer Breeze Festival
  • Aug. 18-20, 2022 – Sulingen, DE @ Reload Festival

“The European Siege 2022” tour dates:

w/ Arch Enemy & Behemoth
+ special guests Carcass, Unto Others

  • Sept. 27, 2022 – Dublin, IE @ Olympia Theatre
  • Sept. 29, 2022 – Glasgow, UK @ O2 Academy Glasgow
  • Sept. 30, 2022 – Manchester, UK @ O2 Apollo
  • Oct. 1, 2022 – Birmingham, UK @ O2 Academy Birmingham
  • Oct. 2, 2022 – London, UK @ O2 Academy Brixton
  • Oct. 4, 2022 – Paris, FR @ Le Zénith
  • Oct. 5, 2022 – Toulouse, FR @ Le Bikini
  • Oct. 7, 2022 – Lisbon, PT @ Coliseu de Lisboa
  • Oct. 8, 2022 – Madrid, ES @ Palacio Vistalegre
  • Oct. 9, 2022 – Barcelona, ES @ Palau Sant Jordi
  • Oct. 11, 2022 – Lyon, FR @ Le Radiant
  • Oct. 12, 2022 – Milano, IT @ Alcatraz
  • Oct. 14, 2022 – Berlin, DE @ Columbiahalle
  • Oct. 15, 2022 – Prague, CZ @ Tipsport Arena
  • Oct. 16, 2022 – Budapest, HU @ Barba Negra
  • Oct. 18, 2022 – Vienna, AT @ Gasometer
  • Oct. 19, 2022 – Katowice, PL @ Spodek
  • Oct. 21, 2022 – Ludwigsburg, DE @ MHP Arena
  • Oct. 22, 2022 – Den Bosch, NL @ Mainstage Brabanthallen
  • Oct. 23, 2022 – Brussels, BE @ Forest National
  • Oct. 25, 2022 – Zurich, CH @ Samsung Hall
  • Oct. 26, 2022 – Frankfurt, DE @ Jahrhunderthalle
  • Oct. 28, 2022 – Munich, DE @ Zenith
  • Oct. 29, 2022 – Düsseldorf, DE @ Mitsubishi Electric Halle
  • Oct. 30, 2022 – Hamburg, DE @ Arena
  • Oct. 31, 2022 – Gothenburg, SE @ Partille Arena
  • Nov. 2, 2022 – Helsinki, FI @ Ice Hall
  • Nov. 4, 2022 – Stockholm, SE @ Annexet
  • Nov. 5, 2022 – Copenhagen, DK @ Forum
  • Nov. 6, 2022 – Oslo, NO @ Sentrum Scene

Arch Enemy is:

  • Alissa White-Gluz – Vocals
  • Michael Amott – Guitars
  • Jeff Loomis – Guitars
  • Sharlee D’Angelo – Bass
  • Daniel Erlandsson – Drums

Arch Enemy online:

Featured image (top) by Katja Kuhl

News & Reviews from the Fiery Mosh Pits of Arizona