ASU grad, works box office at Marquee Theatre, published author, screenwriter, filmmaker, concert addict, roadie wannabe, road trips, photography, graphic designer, always randomly mentions the show Friends in conversation, cat lover
Symphonic metal institution SIRENIA are renewed in darkness on their tenth studio album, Riddles, Ruins & Revelations, released on February 12 via Napalm Records. The quartet around mastermind, bandleader, multi-instrumentalist, composer, songwriter and producer Morten Veland is certainly not afraid of combining a heavy symphonic sound with modern influences, which their latest record, Arcane Astral Aeons (2018) is proof of. This time, SIRENIA offer an exciting new twist to their songs, spicing them with electronic vibes, but never losing sight of their musical core.
The four-piece remains as true to their album title word-play as they do to their dedication to symphonic soundscapes, drawing the listener into a pounding narrative about the darkest aspects of life. All eleven songs accumulate step by step to an integral sound artwork, where the versatile mezzo soprano voice of singer Emmanuelle Zoldan always shines in high-profile.
In addition, there are many enchanting, instrumental surprises lurking on the way that absolutely need to be discovered: With the opening “Addiction No. 1” the formation mainly based in Norway delivers an immense and catchy tune that will have fans of bands like Beyond The Black and Amaranthe falling in love immediately. “We Come To Ruins” offers a contrast of harshness and skillfully portrays the multi-faceted nature of SIRENIA. With “Downwards Spiral”, Emmanuelle is supported by the remarkable voice of longtime friend Joakim Næss on clean vocals, who has joined the band on previous releases. The band’s tenth full-length ends with a cover of Desireless` 1986 hit “Voyage Voyage”, where the band again impressively combines symphonic sounds with electronic atmosphere, which doesn’t count only for this final epos, but for Riddles, Ruins & Revelations as a whole.
Most parts of Riddles, Ruins & Revelations were recorded at Audio Avenue Studios in Stavanger, Norway, and mixed and mastered entirely by Morten Veland himself.
Mother follows 2017’s beloved Ritual. Excitement for this record burns at a fevered pitch, as In This Moment landed on several “Most Anticipated” lists, including Alternative Press, Loudwire, and Revolver.
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Arshenic’s new single and music video for “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” was released on April 12th and can be enjoyed on any listening format. It is a beautifully haunting cover of the classic Lead Belly song. Arshenic is a melodic metal band from Poland, formed in 2007 by the vocalist and songwriter,Oliwia “Ofilia” Bartuś-Staszak. The other current members of the band include electric guitarist Włodzimierz “Vlad” Czuba and drummer Bartosz Staszak.
The name of the band is a reference to arsenic, which is generally thought of as a poison, however it can also be a cure. The duality between the strong female vocals, both singing and screaming, matched with clean and distorted guitars, powerful bass, and zestful drums, with a pinch of cellos, electronics, and orchestral sounds rounding out the background can be heard throughout the group’s catalogue of songs.
The music was produced by Dawid Gorgolewski, Studio Osso. The music video’s script was written by Ofilia, and Creo Official was the video producer.
As the video begins, the camera focuses on the coastline near a wooded cliff. It briefly transitions to Ofilia facing the camera wearing a gas mask — a perfect reference to the meaning of the band name — while cradling a black and white cat in her arms.
Returning to the coastline, the camera follows Ofilia as she sings and walks along an empty coastline wearing a black dress, a crystal necklace, a belt with three pentagrams, skeleton tights, and black combat boots as waves crash near her feet. The instruments, her voice, and the beach give the video a nostalgic vibe. Interspersed slow-motion footage of her footsteps lends itself to an ominous atmosphere in the video, paired with the brooding tone of the song.
The instrumentalists are slowly revealed during the music’s buildup. Closeups zoom in on black-gloved hands sliding on the guitar with a skeleton head on the frets. The drummer plays while wearing a white gas mask with the eyes covered in black Xs. The electric guitarist wears a black mask with silver studs covering all but his eyes with a backward baseball cap on his head. The band members wearing masks stare deadpan at the camera.
As the melody sways, Ofilia walks down a dirt path in the woods wearing another gas mask, the hood of her black dress up, with scenes cutting between the woods and the beach. The transitions of water breaking over the sand and clips of rocks with the soft music are soothing.
As the song explodes, Oflilia walks through a graffiti-covered hallway of an abandoned building. These clips are entangled with footage of a forbidden romance, lit by a red-hued light.
The scenes cut back and forth with fluidity. The musicians flicker with high-speed cuts as they play with intensity — a duality of pacing between this point and the beginning, matching the vocals and instrumentals. The video concludes as it began, pulling away from the deserted coastline.
Many elements of this video can certainly speak to viewers that are currently practicing social distancing during the pandemic. Whether that was the intention or not, the video is an emotionally evocative, powerful watch that rolls out slowly and leaves the viewer impacted.
Arshenic’s latest album, Final Collison, released by Sliptrick Records, came out in August of 2019. With their new single out now, hopefully, there’s a new album coming out sometime in 2020. Until then, “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” will be playing on repeat.
Fans can find out more information about upcoming shows and announcements through the band’s website, Instagram, and Facebook page.
Rock and punk fans should keep an ear out for the band My Immortal Enemy, especially if some of your favorite bands include Beartooth, Avenged Sevenfold, My Chemical Romance, and AFI. Steven Juliano is their vocalist, Joel Chandler is bassist, Ryan Loomis is on drums, and Ryan Heggum is the guitarist.
If Juliano’s name sounds familiar, then perhaps you’ve heard of the band I Am Ghost from Epitaph records. Juliano is hitting the ground running with My Immortal Enemy, and their new duet album Akuma, featuring 12 head-banging rock songs, is coming out soon on January 10th, 2020. Their album was recorded at Indigital Studios in Santa Cruz, CA. It was mixed/mastered by Zack Ohren who has previously worked with Machine Head, All Shall Perish, and Set Your Goals.
Most of the members are still in their early 20’s and are excited to hear what music lovers think of their new record. They can’t wait to hit the road and meet their fans on tour, hopefully sometime in 2020.
Juliano generously gave Burning Hot Events some of his time to discuss the album concept, choices behind its development, and band evolution:
Interview with Steven Juliano, Singer of My Immortal Enemy
Q & A with music journalist Brittney Coon
The word “akuma” is Japanese for “demon” or “devil”, and Akuma is also the name of a character from Street Fighter. What is the inspiration for your album title?
Juliano: From the very beginning, before we had even written a song, I had a concept for this record. With my last band (I Am Ghost), rock-opera-albums was our thing, but after the band disbanded I started a few other music projects and kind of steered away from all that. The reason being concept albums are a lot of work. Mentally hard work. I wasn’t ready to wrap my head around such a large endeavor then.
This time I felt I was ready again, knowing all too well I was making a lot more work for myself lyrically. But I like challenges, I guess. I’m a glutton for punishment as they say. So, I created this detailed story; a semi-fictional tale with me as the protagonist, the devil (Akuma) the main antagonist. It’s a life journey story in a sense, something I believe we can all relate to.
On your website and on SoundCloud, the track “Paradise” shows an image of Baphomet, a Satanic deity. Lyrically, does your album contain a lot of occult elements? If so, does this reflect your personal beliefs, or is it more of a stylistic choice?
Juliano: It’s all about the concept of the album, honestly, and has nothing to do with our religious beliefs. None of us in My Immortal Enemy are Satanist. None of us are very religious to begin with. I’ve been asked by a lot by people on what the artwork means, why all the dark/religious undertones, etc… and it’s hard to explain since the album isn’t out yet. Once you hear it all in context, it makes sense.
What drew you to having Zack Ohren produce your debut album?
Juliano: The band actually wrote/produced the album ourselves and Zack did the entire mixing/mastering. Before he came on board we had another guy, a semi-famous gentleman whose band had sold millions and millions of albums in the past. So we thought it was a no brainer to have him mix our album. Well, his mixes were turning out… terrible. And not only terrible, he was taking months to get mixes back. There was a definite low period in the band. I had never gone through anything like that before in my career. We all felt helpless, like our album had been hijacked. Finally, I just called up the guy and fired him.
Soon after the search was on for a new mixing-engineer. My bass player told me about a guy he’d worked with in the past, a guy whose discography of bands was perfect for what we’re trying to convey. At the time, Zack was working on the new Machine Head album but graciously took on our project.
Out of all the tracks on your new album, why did you choose “The Laughing Heart” as your first single?
Juliano: Figuring out the first song to release is always difficult. Especially from a new band no one’s heard of yet. You have all these questions swirling in your head: “Do we release an aggressive song? A “radio song”? What if no one likes it? Blah blah blah.” All artists are insecure in a way. If they say they’re not they are lying. We decided it was best to release something that had a little bit of everything.
What I’ve learned from doing this for so long is that not everyone is going to like your music. It took me quite some time to realize that. Easier said than done… I know. But in the end you just have to put out songs you dig and keep moving forward. Second thing I’ve learned (mostly by trial and error) is that if you’re writing honest music with honest lyrics, people tend to lean towards that more often than not.
Currently showing four men as your band members, who is the female vocalist on tracks such as “Into the Blue”?
Juliano: At the early conception of the band we had a female guitarist who played and sang on the album. But, as in life, shit happened… shit that was completely out of our control. One minute she’s all about that tour life… the next minute she’s like “I’m going to get married and I don’t want to be in a band anymore.” Ultimately she moved away and gave up.
That’s the hardest part of being in a serious band; finding people who are all on the same page. Some would think finding great, seasoned musicians is the hardest part, but that’s not true at all. That’s the easy part actually. Finding musicians who you get along with and are willing to put in the long hours is definitely the hardest part.
We know how difficult it can be to retain band members in a new band. With six members listed on your Facebook page, have you gained and lost many members over the past year? If so, how were you able to recover?
Juliano: We’ve been lucky enough to keep the four main members, all of whom are the main song writers of the group. So in retrospect it’s been rather painless. Most touring bands have members who are really just hired guns anyways, so the fact we’ve kept our core unit in tact is a blessing.
How is this band different, in sound or otherwise, than I Am Ghost?
Juliano: The biggest difference with My Immortal Enemy and I Am Ghost is that I Am Ghost had a strong, almost ungodly major label push from day one. I Am Ghost was signed by Epitaph Records very early in our career. We signed a three album deal after only a couple of shows under our belts. And when I say couple, I mean only like three of four shows… ever. After that we became another monster. We had real management and agents and a team of publicists… big dogs that would never even return my emails in any of my previous bands… and all this happened literally overnight.
My Immortal Enemy, on the other hand, is all DIY. We do everything ourselves. We paid for the recording and mixing of our album ourselves… which was very expensive. Our upcoming music video we paid ourselves. We book all our own shows. I design all the artwork in the band. The negative in all that is its financially draining. The positive, and you have to always look at the positive being in a band, is that there is zero outside influence regarding our music, and for the moment, we rather enjoy the freedom. As to the actual musical styles between the two, My Immortal Enemy is definitely very similar, although I wasn’t trying for that to happen at all. It just kind of happened, I guess.
Your website currently shows a “coming soon” message under the “Tour” section. Are tour plans currently in the works to support the album release?
Juliano: We wanted to take off a few months and get the album release in order. All that takes a lot of work since we are doing it ourselves. Also, being that it’s winter, there really is no reason to hop into a van and travel the US battling all that darn rain and snow. Again, I’ve been touring since I was 19 years old, so subsequently I know how it goes. Winter dates more likely than not get canceled because of bad weather, and most importantly it’s too dangerous traveling. We will be back early 2020 with tour dates, so rest assured. We hope to play as many shows and in as many different places as we possibly can.
What headlining bands would you love to tour with?
Juliano: The cool thing about our band is I feel we could tour with anyone and do ok. We have that definite metal vibe but I’m a punk kid at heart and I think we’d do well on a punk tour, or a hard rock tour. I think we’d fit in well on a pop punk tour… hell, throw us on a ska tour we’d survive. But bands that would be fun to tour with would be bands like Beartooth or Avenged Sevenfold, or even My Chemical Romance now that they have gotten back together.
How are you going to celebrate the release of your new album?
Juliano: This might sound stupid but it feels as though we’ve gone to war in some far off country and have finally returned home… like years later. There’s definitely this “Holy shit man, we did it. We made it home alive…” type mentality with the four of us, which in the end has only brought us closer together. Ultimately, bad things happen in life… things completely out of your control and you can either be resilient or just give up.
But we honestly believe in this album. We think it’s not just good, but rather exceptional. Especially if you know all the history surrounding its inception… of how many times we were knocked down but kept getting back up. My Immortal Enemy are fighters, that’s for damn sure.
Arrives in stores everywhere January 10th, 2020. You can now pre-order your physical copy of My Immortal Enemy’s debut 12 song album, “Akuma” HERE. Signed by entire band. Includes two stickers and 1.5 inch button. Bundle pack includes Black Skull/Coffin T-Shirt. FREE shipping (if in the USA). Album ships world-wide.
Tempe, AZ — Through Fire will be bringing their tour to the Marquee Theatre on Friday, August 2nd. They’re on the road with co-headliners Like a Storm, and special guests Wilson, and Stitched Up Heart on the “Firestorm Tour”. They will be joined by opener Hazen, an alternative metal band from Gilbert, AZ.
If you haven’t heard of Through Fire, they are a hard rock quartet created in 2015 from Omaha, Nebraska. Justin McCain is lead guitarist and songwriter, Grant Kendrick is lead vocalist, Kyle LeBlanc is bassist, and Grant Brooks is on the drums.
In under two years, Through Fire has over 20 million Spotify streams, chart-topping radio hits, and 48 million YouTube views thanks to their debut album Breathe released by Sumerian Records. Their first single “Stronger” reached #1 on iTunes and spent an impressive 26 weeks on the charts. It was also #1 on Sirius XM Octane for 5 consecutive weeks. This placed them at #3 for the overall year following Metallica and Highly Suspect, not to mention won the band “Breakout Artist of the Year”. Their third single, “Where You Lie” soared to new heights and became #1 most added song in the country on rock radio within its first week.
Now Through Fire is ready to take their music on the road and rock out in front of their phenomenal fans!
Through Fire’s Lead Vocalist Grant Kendrick Interviews with Burning Hot Events
Q & A with music journalist Brittney Coon
Please tell us about your most recent release.
Kendrick: All Animal!!! It’s a beast and we are excited to unleash it!!!
Album Released July 19, 2019
What is your favorite part about being in a band? Your least favorite? Why?
Kendrick: My Favorite part of being in a band is making music! I love the feeling of completing songs that you can’t wait to share!
Discuss your relationship with your fans — how do you interact with and respond to them?
Kendrick: We love em! They bring their passion for music to the show and we enjoy hanging out with them and hearing their stories about how our songs have touched their lives!
What does it mean to you to be in your band?
Kendrick: It means you are committed, a dreamer, believer, and a fighter! We dream big and fight to make it happen! We don’t settle, we push ourselves to be better! We are blessed and grateful for all the opportunities we have and want to make the most of them!
What do you think is the glue that holds your group together?
Kendrick: Probably the music! Justin [McCain] is our leader. He is the engine, but it’s the music we all love and despite any other differences, we believe in what we are doing!
If you weren’t a musician, what do you think you’d be doing?
Kendrick: Well, I’d probably still be trying to make it to the NBA, lol
Have you ever had to deal with performance anxiety? If so, how did/do you handle it?
Kendrick: Yes, basically just pray, and suck it up till the intro music starts then it all goes away! Turns into crazy energy that you use to light up the stage! I don’t get it as much anymore, pretty much chill and just excited to get out there!
How do you maintain the same level of energy and take care of your well-being throughout the entirety of a tour?
Kendrick: I’m sober now, 18 months, so not drinking really helps! I try to drink lots of water and eat decent, but most importantly rest and warm ups! Also, coffee!
What advice do you have for artists just starting out?
Kendrick: Be patient, keep working, networking, and developing your talent. Keep working at it, neglecting your gifts are as good as destroying them. If you know you have it in you, then go out and prove it every chance you get!
Mixi of Stitched Up Heart once mentioned to me years ago that the band played more gigs in Arizona than their home state of California. What makes Arizona and appealing location for shows?
Kendrick: Well, the awesome weather, cool people!!! What more do you need! It’s always exciting to play in AZ! We have friends there we like to stop and see too when we get a chance! Shout out to the Doll Skin family! Thanks so much for the support and we look forward to seeing you soon!!!
Remaining Tour Dates:
7/27 – Jacksonville, NC @ The Tarheel Concert Lounge 7/28 – Charlotte, NC @ Amos Southend 7/30 – Dallas, TX @ Gas Monkey Bar N’ Grill 7/31 – Austin, TX @ Empire Control Room & Garage 8/02 – Tempe, AZ @ The Marquee 8/03 – Las Vegas, NV @ Count’s Vamp’d 8/04 – Salt Lake City, UT @ The Complex 8/06 – Colorado Springs, CO @ The Black Sheep 8/07 – Denver, CO @ The Oriental Theater 8/09 – Sioux City, IA @ Anthem at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino 8/10 – Lincoln, NE @ The Royal Grove
Scottsdale, AZ — It’s a sad truth that some of the best musicians are no longer with us; they found their way to rock ‘n roll heaven. However, they did leave a hell of a legacy in music. Hollywood Vampires is a band formed by Alice Cooper, Joe Perry of Aerosmith, and Johnny Depp in 2015 to pay tribute to the musicians that are no longer with us from the 1970s. Hollywood Vampires is a brainchild from Cooper, who used to hang out in the Rainbow Bar in Hollywood, California in the 1970s. That’s where Cooper and the original Hollywood Vampires followed their mission statement: drink until no one could stand up. Some of the members to this motley crew of drinkers were Keith Moon of The Who, John Lennon and Ringo Starr of The Beatles, Micky Dolenz of The Monkees, and Elton John.
On a strangely cool night — perhaps the undead bring a chill to the air — Hollywood Vampires came to Talking Stick Resort to play some classic rock by the pool. Co-Op warmed up the crowd — a band formed by Alice Cooper’s son Dash Cooper, who is on lead vocals.
Their backdrop was a skull logo with a red left eye that changed to green for certain songs. As they began to play their second song, Cooper shouted, “Let me hear you howl!” It was fitting as they played under a full moon. The crowd wasn’t too loud, and Cooper once again spoke, trying to liven everyone up, “You’re going to need to be louder to wake the undead. We’re from right here in Phoenix!” One of their final songs was called “Silent Skies,” which Cooper said was a tribute song for a friend of his who committed suicide, and he encouraged the crowd to remember that there’s always help out there.
All the lights went off as a spooky recorded voice-over said, “Listen to them, the children of the night!” Cooper came out, first armed with his cane and mic. Perry and Depp followed with their guitars. The rest of the touring band filled the stage around them: Tommy Henriksen on rhythm and lead guitar, keyboards, and backing vocals; Glen Sobel on drums; Chris Wyse on bass; and Buck Johnson on keyboards, rhythm and lead guitar, and backing vocals.
Before addressing the nearly sold-out crowd, Hollywood Vampires played “I Want My Now,” “Raise the Dead,” and “As Bad As I Am.” Before going into a tribute song combo with “Five to One / Break On Through (to the Other Side)” Cooper said, “We’re the Vampires. Paying tribute to our friends who are gone, The Doors.”
As the rift to “The Jack” by AC/DC filled the air, Cooper said, “We lost Malcolm from AC/DC.” As Cooper sang, he did his stage antics with his cane, walking hunched over going back and forth. As he walked he’d slowly pull jack playing cards from his jacket and would show the crowd the card for a few moments before throwing the card at eager fans.
Perry took the mic, saying to fans, “How are you all doing? It’s time for a ballad. This song is by a good friend of mine who died a long time ago, Johnny Thunders.” Perry sings Thunders’ song “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory.” As the song plays, pictures of Thunders flashed on the backdrop mixed in with Hollywood Vampires’ logo changing in colors.
Cooper took back the mic, singing “My Dead Drunk Friends,” as pictures of Cooper’s fallen buddies, including musical icons such as Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison, took turns coming across the backdrop, showing how happy they were to be on stage in their prime. Before singing the next song, “Baba O’Riley” by The Who, Cooper said, “There wouldn’t be the Vampires without Keith Moon.”
Depp paid tribute to David Bowie by singing the song, “Heroes” as images of Bowie appeared on the backdrop.
“It’s a fact most of the vampires have died, but one is still around,” said Cooper. The crowd cheered as they played Cooper’s “I’m Eighteen.” As Cooper sang the next song, “People Who Died” by The Jim Carroll Band, and people in the crowd raised their drinks into the air and sang along with the chorus line, “For the people who died, died.” The logo of the Hollywood Vampires would flash on the backdrop with gravestones inscribed with the names of fallen musicians.
The last song of the night was Cooper’s iconic “School’s Out” as the band played giant red and white balloons with the band’s logo on them were tossed into the crowd like beach balls. People hit them up into the air as others grabbed balloons to keep as souvenirs, and one person even fished their balloon out of the pool. Cooper wrapped up the show by introducing each member of the band. Cooper commented that Perry is one of the best guitar players that he knows.
He put his hand on Depp’s shoulder and said, “You know him by many names, many characters, and now you know him as a guitar player.” Cooper talked about himself last, mentioning how he’s from Arizona and graduated from Cortez High School in Phoenix. The crowd cheered one last time before the lights went out and the Hollywood Vampires took to the night sky.
To see music legends Alice Cooper and Joe Perry together in a band with Johnny Depp is something no one at Talking Stick Resort is going to forget. As fans wandered about the property to the parking lot, went back up to their hotel room, or tried their hand at the slot machines in the casino they all had one thing in common: they knew they were never going to forget seeing Hollywood Vampires. The energy of the band as they jammed their songs and paid tribute to fallen musicians will live on inside them. That night was legendary.
PHOENIX – Christina Aguilera brought her Liberation tour to Comerica Theatre on October 29, 2018. This is the first tour for Aguilera since her “Back to Basics” tour in 2007. The last time she had a show in Arizona was on February 28, 2007, at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale — now renamed Gila River Arena. There have been quite a few bumps for Aguilera on the Liberation tour; two dates were postponed due to illness, and one postponed due to production-related safety concerns at the venue.
Big Boi opened for Aguilera, also known as Antwan André Patton. Big Boi is an American rapper, songwriter, record producer, and actor. He’s best known for being a member of Outkast, an American hip hop duo, alongside André 3000. With Outkast, he produced six studio albums. In July 2010, Big Boi’s solo debut Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty was released. Hip-hop didn’t seem to be everyone’s go-to genre in the audience, but there were clusters of fans that got up to dance to the beat. Toward the end of their set Patton addressed the crowd, “Welcome to the Liberation tour. Where it gets louder after every song!”
It was rumored that Aguilera was to take the stage at 9:15 pm, but that time came and went. The crowd grew restless around 10:00 pm, and some randomly cheered in hopes of making Aguilera appear, while others did the wave to keep their energy alive. Fans were talking amongst each other, concerned that Aguilera wouldn’t show at all. Seventy-five minutes passed by and the crowd booed.
Finally, “5 minutes” popped up on the screen that hid the stage. It switched to a giant face of a clock, with the hands turning counter-clockwise as it counted down the minutes. The concert began with images of Aguilera holding various timepieces. Fans stood when a video played, showing Aguilera in a red dress and a flowered crown, and a little girl wearing the same, wandering through a house as if Aguilera was chasing her past self.
The screen went black, and the word “Liberation” appeared in bold white letters. A dancer came on stage, smelling flowers and then dropping them as she danced, before suddenly running off stage. Then, the word “Searching” displayed on the screen. As the lights brightened, Aguilera stood tall on an elevated stage. The screen and background were of clouds, making Aguilera seem like she was in the sky as she sang the opening lines of “Maria” from her 2018 studio album, Liberation.
Aguilera had a perfect mix of old and new songs in her setlist. The second song was “Genie in a Bottle” from her first studio album self-titled, Christina Aguilera. That lead track from the album was a trendy pop and R&B song in 1999. It peaked atop the Billboard Hot 100, and among other charts in twenty other countries. It has sold over seven million copies, making it one of the best-selling singles in the world. During the song, images of past albums appeared on the starry background as her dancers twirled red umbrellas around her. Aguilera wore a robe reminiscent of Disney’s Mulan, from which her debut single “Reflection” came.
Throughout the show, Aguilera would have videos play before she sang her well-known songs. During the song “Dirrty”, from her 2002 studio album Stripped, Aguilera wore a red and black leather outfit much like the assless chaps she wore in the “Dirrty” music video. On one sleeve was “2018” and on the other sleeve was “XTINA”. Her dancers wore black assless chaps as they backed her up during the song.
Aguilera finally addressed the crowd and explained why she was so late coming on stage.
“I’m here you guys. I climbed and scratched my way here. I had two planes both have mechanical failures and that’s freaking scary shit. I’m sorry. I was like ahhh, what! I was so freaking scared. So the third plane (third time is the charm), the third one came through and I was able to get here on time to be here with you guys, but I made it, I made it to the stage tonight, but it took a little longer. Lord in Heaven. That played some scary stuff on my nerves, and you know, I get some bad anxiety sometimes. That was not fun today. You know, I’m going to unleash some of that on stage tonight. Get it out of my system.”
She laughed and continued, “But it feels so good to be back here after so long and getting to be in some beautiful theaters, oh I’ve never done that before. It’s just so beautiful, so intimate, so wonderful to see you all up close, and personal. It’s just so amazing after all this time. It means so much my loyal, amazing fighters.”
She patted herself on the chest, adding, “I’m not going to cry tonight, but you guys have brought me to tears before. This love has meant so much to me. It really has, you guys. Allowed me to raise my family and be there for my kids because being a hands-on mom is important to me. But also being on this stage, because you know this has been in my life since I was seven. We got some old stuff, older stuff you might remember and we have some new stuff. So let’s see if you guys remember this one.” Aguilera then started to sing lines to “What a Girl Wants” from her self-titled album.
Aguilera sang songs from her past in order, explaining her career. After “What a Girl Wants” she moved to sing some of “Come On Over Baby (All I Want is You)” and addressed the crowd again. Aguilera said, “It’s the show I have right before Halloween too. That’s extra fun. We actually have a Halloween treat for you later. I love Halloween. It’s kinda like Christmas, so it’s insane. And I see some costumes tonight, that’s really cool. Yes. So after, umm, after ‘What a Girl Wants’ and after ‘Come On Over’ I was tired of playing by everybody else’s, you know, the label and suits’ rules, and I had things I wanted to say. It came a time when, you know, my sophomore album I wrote a record called Stripped. — Which just had its sixteenth birthday and it was a very special record for me because, you know, it was the first time I got to tell my stories, talk about some of my pain and struggles and that’s really important, you know, I think that makes the best people and sometimes builds the best character. And I thank you guys for sharing your stories with me; it really inspires me as well and there’s no shame in coming from hard places at all. It means you’re a strong person.
This next song I wrote for the album, there’s quite a few of them, but you know, about standing your ground and in face of adversity or someone says you can’t do something. This song was never a single, but sometimes those are the best ones to me. And I still get a lot of requests for this. This one, you know, no matter what people say, no matter what people tell you what you can’t do. You gotta keep doing you. This one is called ‘Keep On Singin’ My Song,’ sing along if you know it.”
During the songs “Deserve” and “Accelerate”, both from the Liberation album, Aguilera and her dancers wore S&M-styled outfits and mimed an occult-like ritual at a long table with candles that they danced on. One male dancer had on a spiked mask, and the other a pig’s head. The female dancers had different masks covering their faces. Aguilera wore a bondage headpiece that went from the top of her head and down her nose with a bejeweled black top, fishnets, and a thin black skirt. After “Deserve” a quote appeared on the back screen. It read: “‘If you’re going through hell, keep going…’ –X’cess”. During the song “Accelerate”, Aguilera introduced her dancers, who each had their own moment to showcase their skill on the table in the center of the stage.
For “Lady Marmalade” (a LaBelle song famously covered by Aguilera, P!nk, Mya, and Lil’ Kim for the Moulin Rouge! soundtrack) Aguilera wore a white coat, and her dancers matched as they circled around her with ivory fans in their hands. A video of a close-up of Aguilera in red played on the backdrop.
Aguilera’s next songs were “Ain’t No Other Man” from her 2006 Back to Basics album, “Say Something” by Great Big World, “It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World” a James Brown cover, and “Fighter” from her Stripped album. Following each video, Aguilera would change her outfit to fit the mood of the song.
After “Fighter”, the videos stopped working. Aguilera came out with a mic in hand. “Sorry,” she told the crowd. She looked behind her to her band. “Are you ready for me?” She laughed, “Sorry. I know. I’m ready for you and you’re ready for me.” The crowd cheered for her. “Thank you very much,” she said, with a big smile. “I told them to cut to a certain video and it’s not playing right now and I’m upset about it. So I’m sorry. Oh well. The show goes on and I’m here. It’s been an insane day.”
A fan in the crowd yelled “I love you” and she replied, “I love you too. That’s why I’m here, but not without some anxiety. I’m kind of a nervous flier, but it’s Halloween so it’s a special time. Thank you guys for coming out tonight. And your patience for the last ten freaking years. Thank you so much. But my soul was suffering, my soul was hurting and it sometimes takes us a while to figure it out, and I was scared of having children. ‘How am I going to juggle this?’ And also for them not to feel like they are living in my shadow and stuff like that.
Honestly, it’s been such a great experience, and to feel your love and give this to my children as an experience as well. Show them what mama does for a living and what I do for the love. It brought them into this world. Thank you so much for giving me an opportunity to get back on the stage. This is for all of you guys. For all my fighters. It’s a weird night, but whatever. So this song is appropriate.” Aguilera than started singing “Beautiful”, and fans sang along waving their hands or phones in the air.
Aguilera ended the show by bringing a fan onto the stage to share her story. The woman talked about how Aguilera inspired her to be herself and how Aguilera’s music helped when life was dark after addiction and coming out as gay. She has since found a woman who is like a mother to her and is eleven years sober. She told Aguilera that, due to the addiction, she couldn’t remember Aguilera’s concert she last attended back in 2007, and she always thanks Aguilera or adds a song lyric in her grad papers. Aguilera was clearly touched and hugged the ladies, saying, “Thank you” and “I hope you remember this concert.” The last song of the night was “Let There Be Love”. The back screens turned over and became rainbow lights, while everyone on stage danced like it was a celebration.
The concert ended just a little past midnight, with delighted but tired fans pouring out of the venue. Despite the delay, video problems, and the bass being too loud to the point of sometimes cringing in pain, most fans left happy to see Aguilera on stage after all these years. She’s a fighter and she’s a pop music legacy not to be missed.
Featured Photo (top) by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Live Nation
After two tour dates postponed due to loss of her voice and the advisement of doctors, multi-platinum superstar Christina Aguilera is back on the road with Liberationgoing through North America. It’s been ten years since she’s been on tour before the “Liberation Tour”.
Her last tour was 2006-2008 forBack to Basics. Since then Aguilera has been raising two children and she wants to return to the stage. Not only will Aguilera be singing gems from her newest album, but she will also sing songs that made her a powerhouse and unforgettable singer in the early 2000s. This is a show that can’t be missed.
Unfortunately for her fans in Orillia, Ontario and Detroit, Michigan, Aguilera was urged by her doctors to take time off to recover from her illness. However, fans showed great understanding in response to the news, wishing her a speedy recovery. Upon each postponement, Aguilera lamented via Twitter over letting fans down, and reassured them that she will be coming back and give her best.
I owe it to my fighters to give you 100% for EVERY show. You have my word that it will be worth the wait.
Aguilera went on with the show tonight (October 16) at The Chicago Theatre, where she will be performing tomorrow night as well. She currently has thirteen dates afterward, no doubt with two new dates coming soon. (View the remaining tour dates below.)
Aguilera’s eighth studio album, Liberation, is the perfect title to describe her amazing musical and life journey. Aguilera is a fighter, proving the domestic violence she faced as a child with her mother at the hands of her father wouldn’t silence her. Aguilera has suggestively shredded her 90s pop princess image and tirelessly fought for creative control over her music. Throughout her career, Aguilera has proved nothing can hold her back.
Her 2002 Grammy-winning fourth studio album, Stripped, is a four times platinum record and it is also the second highest-selling album by a female US artist from the 2000s. The 2006 Grammy-winning album, Back to Basics, has become a three times platinum record. A hot single from the 2006 album, “Ain’t No Other Man” reached number six on the Billboard Hot 100 list and has sold more than 1.7 million digital downloads in the US. Aguilera has also worked in film, television, perfume, and as a judge on The Voice. Presently, Aguilera is ready to hit the road again after a decade and is prepared to amaze audiences with her powerful voice and soul.
In a press release with Aguilera’s record company RCA, she was quoted saying after her latest album release since her 2012’s Lotus,
“I just needed to get back to truth. I felt like I was stuck, like when you can do something in your sleep and you’re unmotivated by it and you need to take a reflective moment and look at how you got away from your passion and off your path. It’s a big step to walk away from something that’s comfortable, but it can also be liberating to say, ‘Okay, I’m being true to myself now. I’m back to what I feel is my God-given purpose for being on this Earth.’ I’m not a commentator. I’m an artist. I’m a creator. I like to inspire. And when I stop believing in something, I have to evaluate my integrity in the situation and get back to the root of my truth and purpose.”
A popular track on Liberation is the song “Maria,” which is about going back to the little girl who simply wants to be inspired by music without the black cloud of the business side of things and feel alive again. Aguilera was quoted saying, “It’s not that my love of music depreciated, but being a young girl in a world of older men who sometimes had ulterior motives, and having no say in my own creativity or expression was very isolating.” The song has even more meaning, not only is “Maria” Aguilera’s middle name, but it is also from Julie Andrews’ character in The Sound of Music. Andrews’ performance in the film is what inspired a young Aguilera to sing.
Liberation contains beautiful songs that have powerful uplifting messages (“Maria”, “Fall in Line”), relationship songs (“Twice,” “Unless It’s With You,” “Masochist,” “Deserve”), and songs that make the listener feel good (“Accelerate,” “Sick of Sittin’” “Pipe,”). This album comes out during a time in the world where women need music in the wake of sexual harassment and the #metoo movement. Aguilera wants to connect to fans and let them know they are not alone, saying, “I wanted to talk not only about my journey but also deliver it in an honest way that connects with the soul. Everyone has their own version of ‘Maria’ — that little dreamer inside of them who might have to be put on hold because of kids, work, or family. So I hope that the album is a discovery of some kind for the listeners, as it was for me, and can be a form of release and independence and strength and inspiration to go out and find their own version of being liberated.”
Liberation debuted at number six on the Billboard 200 list in the US and the album sales will only grow as Aguilera takes it on the road. Aguilera is proof you can remake yourself, own yourself, and be yourself even in the chaotic world of music. Aguilera is only getting better.
PHOENIX – Scorpions brought the third stop of the North American leg of their “Crazy World Tour” to sizzling Phoenix, with special guests Queensrÿche opening the night. Last year, Scorpions were supposed to “sting” (or delight) fans, but their lead singer Klaus Meine had a laryngitis diagnosis, and was advised by doctors not to sing, resulting in a cancellation of the rest of their tour. The band apologized for missing Arizona last year, and made up for it with their amazing sixteen-song set list.
Queensrÿche did a phenomenal job of starting the show and warming up the audience. For those unfamiliar with Queensrÿche, they are an American heavy metal band from Bellevue, Washington. The band was formed in 1980, and originated as Cross+Fire, which was renamed to The Mob, and finally to Queensrÿche. The band has sold over six million albums in the United States and over twenty million albums around the world. They kicked off the show with the song “Best I Can” from their 1990 album, Empire.
The lead singer Todd La Torre banged his head to the beat, greeted the crowd, and invited all to sing along to “Empire.” Many people stood up and sang along with the band, throwing their fists up into the air. La Torre expressed his appreciation, saying, “We are happy and honored to play for you. Thanks to Scorpions for having us. This song has been on our set for a while. Sing along if you know it. This is ‘Guardian’.” Later, La Torre referenced the band’s history, saying, “Who is an old school Queensrÿche fan? You know how we got our name. Here’s ‘Queen of the Reich’.” They wrapped up their nine-song set list with the song, “Eyes of a Stranger” from their 1988 album, Operation: Mindcrime.
As the roadies prepared the stage for Scorpions, a giant black banner went up with the logo of the “Crazy World Tour”. It proudly overlooked a nearly sold out show. When the banner dropped, a video of a helicopter going over a bright city at night began to play. The helicopter clipped the arm off of the statue of Scorpions’ “Crazy World Tour” logo, a spaceman.
As the video played, fans whistled and cheered. The video segued into the performance, with visuals that gave appearance of the band’s black silhouettes jumping out of the helicopter. The lights over the crowd were blinding as Scorpions took the stage, immediately going into the song, “Going Out with a Bang,” from their 2015 album, Return to Forever. The backing screen proudly displayed “Scorpions” in Titanic-sized letters behind the legendary band. Nearly everyone in the audience stood up and rocked out. Lead singer Meine addressed the crowd before the third song, “Come on, Phoenix. I want to hear you!”
As the song “Make It Real” played, the entire screen behind the band displayed an American flag waving, with the silhouettes of the band jamming out. After five songs in, Scorpions did a 70s throwback with a mashup of songs, “Top of the Bill”, “Steamrock Fever”, “Speedy’s Coming”, and “Catch Your Train”. During the entire throwback, the screen was tie-dyed, and the name “Scorpions” flashed on and off the screen in multiple colors. It was almost dizzying to see the graphics move. The side screens were also incorporated, making it appear there were three of Meine in different colors as he sang, while the crowd indulged in a drug-like music high.
As “Send Me an Angel” from their 1990 album, Crazy World, began to sway the audience, Meine said, “I know you know the words. You can sing by heart. ‘Send Me an Angel’. Come on Phoenix. I want to see your hands in the air.” All over the venue, arms went up into the air, and some people held up drinks, their phones, and more sparsely, lighters in the air. Couples grew closer, even attempting to slow dance while standing in their row.
Scorpions played Motörhead’s title-track “Overkill” from the 1979 album, to honor the late English musician and singer-songwriter Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister who passed away in December of 2015. In honor of the singer, fans rose up their metal horns, and the primary LED screen flashed with a compilation of images of Lemmy throughout the song. After the touching tribute song, the drum stage began to rise as drummer Mikkey Dee, former member of Motörhead, rocked out on a drum solo.
As he murdered the drums and sent a shockwave of sound around the venue, cover art from all of the albums Scorpions have released in their music career fifty-three years slowly appeared on screen, one-by-one. A total of eighteen studio albums are currently under their belts.
In typical concert fashion, the best known songs were saved for last. “Big City Nights”, from their 1984 album Love at First Sting, got everyone up and jamming. Cities were displayed, as if the audience was taking a cruise through the heart of each big city. One city was Tokyo, which is actually the city that inspired the song. Scorpions stepped off the stage for a brief minute before coming back for the encore. The last two songs were “No One Like You” from their 1982 album, Blackout, and “Rock You Like a Hurricane” from the album, Love at First Sting. Before going into “No One Like You,” Meine teased fans by singing the first line of the song “Arizona” from their album, Blackout, and then praised the fans, “Phoenix, there is no one like you!”
The drums were amazing, the lights were blinding, the colors on the screen were hypnotizing, and the 70s mashup was a trip. — One might wonder what the show would have been like on an acid trip, while it’s no doubt that some long-time fans know exactly what that would be like. Scorpions, with special guests Queensrÿche, performed with great ferocity that resonated throughout the crowd and Comerica Theatre. This tour is a unique experience that’s worth every penny, and a must-see for every diehard classic rock fan.
Scorpions did not disappoint in Phoenix. They brought the house down and left fans of all ages happy to see this classic rock band. After the final song, the band waved to fans and gave out drumsticks and guitar picks. One lucky fan got a piece of autographed merch. Scorpions gathered in the middle of the stage, standing side-by-side, to wave at fans, and Meine closed out the night saying, “Goodnight Arizona. We love you!”
Heavy metal purveyors INCITE will kick off their North American “Burn & Shred” headline tour, featuring support from Aethere (8/10-9/8) and Lody Kong (9/14-9/28), next Friday, August 10! Catch them at a venue near you.
This tour is coming to your state!
See below for all confirmed dates:
Leg One w/ Aethere
8/10 – Austin, TX – Barracuda 8/11 – Dallas, TX – Curtain Club 8/13 – Lawrence, KS – Replay Lounge 8/14 – Des Moines, IA – Vaudeville Mews 8/15 – Lombard, IL – Brauer House 8/16 – Lansing, MI – Mac’s Bar 8/17 – Cleveland, OH – Now That’s Class 8/19 – Rochester, NY – Bugjar 8/21 – Portland, ME – Geno’s Rock Club 8/22 – Providence, RI – Alchemy 8/23 – Manchester, NH – The Jewel 8/24 – Montague, MA – RPM Fest 8/25 – Brooklyn, NY – Brooklyn Bazaar 8/26 – Philadelphia, PA – Kung Fu Necktie 8/28 – Richmond, VA – Strange Matter 8/29 – Raleigh, NC – The Maywood 8/30 – Atlanta, GA – Masquerade (Purgatory) 8/31 – Jacksonville, FL – Nighthawks 9/04 – New Orleans, LA – Santos 9/5 – Memphis, TN – The Hi Tone 9/7 – Cave In Rock, IL – Full Terror Assault * 9/8 – Omaha, NB – Lookout Lounge *no Aethere
Leg Two w/ Lody Kong
9/14 – San Diego, CA – Space Bar 9/16 – Oakland, CA – Elbo Room Jack London 9/17 – Sacramento, CA – Blue Lamp 9/19 – Portland, OR – High Water Mark 9/20 – Seattle, WA – El Corazon (Funhouse) 9/22 – Boise, ID – The Shredder 9/23 – Salt Lake City, UT – Metro Bar 9/25 – Denver, CO – Streets of London 9/27 – Las Vegas, NV – Beauty Bar 9/28 – Phoenix, AZ – Club Red
Vocalist Richie Cavalera says, “We’re fired up to be hitting every corner of North America on what will be our most extensive headline tour yet! Bringing the metal with us will be Aethere and Lody Kong, so come rage with us. You might even hear a new song or two! Keep it heavy and get ready to “Burn & Shred“!
INCITE also just finished the recording process on their next full-length album, which is set to be released soon. Fans should stay tuned for more information on the impending release. Cavalera says, “The new album is a wrap! It’s all about keeping it brutal for all the metalheads. We’ve got an album full of ragers – it’s definitely heavy as sh*t with some new surprises in the guitar shredding department, and our special guest vocalists – which you’ll hear about soon – killed it. We’re pumped to release this album to the world.”
Over the years, INCITE has toured alongside the likes of Dillinger Escape Plan, DevilDriver, Crowbar, Brujeria, Gorgoroth, King Parrot,36 Crazyfists, Anaal Nathrakh, Holy Grail, and more. Moreover, they’ve been praised by everybody from Kerrang! and Revolver to ARTISTdirect. In addition, INCITE has reached Top-40-status on Sirius Metal Charts with tracks like ‘Army of Darkness’ and the Devil’s Dozen on Liquid Metal with ‘The Aftermath’. Revolver also named 2012’s All Out War its “Album of the Week” upon release. In 2014, INCITE released what many consider to be their breakout release, Up In Hell, which spawned several singles and music videos. Since then, the band has released a re-issue of their first album, The Slaughter, as well as their most recent offering, Oppression.
For more information INCITE, please visit these websites: