All posts by Debbie Malone

REVIEW: Violent Femmes Just Like You Remember 5-3-16

TEMPE, Ariz. — Violent Femmes packed the Marquee Theatre in Tempe on Tuesday, May 3, as part of their tour to promote their latest album, “We Can Do Anything”. The punk-rock headliner of over 35 years drew a more mature crowd that evening, with fans eschewing sleep on a weeknight for the chance to see Violent Femmes live. They wasted no time in giving concert-goers exactly what they wanted and opened with their biggest hit, “Blister in the Sun,” from their self-titled 1983 album, then went right into “Kiss Off.” It was clear from the start that fans were in for a great show when bassist Brian Ritchie was already rocking out to a bass guitar solo by the second song.

Brian Ritchie - Violent Femmes - Marquee Theatre
Brian Ritchie, Violent Femmes © Kataklizmic Design

After sating the audience with two of their most well-known hits, Violent Femmes played “Memory” from their new album. At the song’s conclusion, lead vocalist and guitarist Gordon Gano finally addressed concert-goers, “Here’s another one that sounds just the same, but with different words and chords and melodies,” he said jokingly before launching into “Big Car,” another song from their new album, after which, Ritchie announced to excited fans that it was the first time they had played the song live.

Violent Femmes - Marquee Theatre
Gordon Gano, Violent Femmes © Kataklizmic Design

The release of “We Can Do Anything” in March of this year was a special treat for Violent Femmes fans. It was the band’s first new album in 16 years. Amid a variety of conflicts between Gano and Ritchie, the group disbanded in 2009 due to a lawsuit Ritchie filed against Gano in 2007. It wasn’t until 2013 that Violent Femmes reunited to play at Coachella. According to an interview with Gano, it was that event that laid the foundation for the two musicians to put aside their differences in order to successfully record a new album.

The set list for Tuesday’s show artfully wove together new songs with old favorites. “Now we’ll do one we’ve played maybe 3,000 times,” Ritchie smiled before playing “Country Death Song,” another one of what he referred to as “murder story songs”. From there he announced that they would play another, more wholesome murder story song and kicked off “I Could Be Anything,” which tells the story of Bongo the dragon slayer. The set list also included, “Please Do Not Go,” “Good for/at Nothing,” “Issues,” “Good Feeling,” “Never Tell” and “Hallowed Ground.”

Blaise Garza - Violent Femmes - Marquee Theatre
Blaise Garza, Violent Femmes © Kataklizmic Design

On the saxophone, Blaise Garza stole the show during “Love Love Love Love Love.” At the end of the song, Ritchie told concert-goers that Garza had been playing with them for 14 years. “Now he’s 27, so he’s been playing with us for half his life,” Ritchie added. Later, the group played “I Held Her in My Arms,” in which Garza delivered an incredible saxophone solo in tribute to the late Steve Mackay who played with the group early in their career.

Violent Femmes Contrabass Saxophone - Marquee Theatre
Contrabass Saxophone
© Kataklizmic Design
Click to Enlarge

Throughout the night, Garza played at least four different kinds of saxophones, including the impressively large contrabass for “Gone Daddy Gone”. But he wasn’t the only one in the spotlight. Gano and Ritchie were surrounded by a host of talent. While Gano rocked out with a fiddle during “Jesus Walking on the Water,” he was complemented by guitarist Jeff Hamilton on the mandolin. Drummer John Sparrow hammered out beats on a charcoal grill at one point. And during “Black Girls,” Sparrow delivered an impossibly long drum solo while Gano credited all of the players.

John Sparrow - Violent Femmes - Marquee Theatre
John Sparrow, Violent Femmes © Kataklizmic Design

Violent Femmes closed the show with “American Music,” after which they came back out and played “Mirror Mirror (I See a Damsel)” and “Add It Up” for their encore set. The combination of nostalgic hits from past and new soon-to-be favorites made it a fun night for young and old alike. It was also impressive to see the plethora of instruments that made their way onto the stage. If future performances hold as much fun and nostalgia as Tuesday night, Violent Femmes can look forward to a successful comeback tour.

PHOTO ALBUM by Katherine Vega

Violent Femmes – Marquee Theatre 5-3-16

Flickr Album Gallery Powered By: WP Frank

Photography by Katherine Vega, © Kataklizmic Design
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. (THAT MEANS NO STEALING)

REVIEW: Say Anything Brings It to Tempe 4-22-16

TEMPE, Ariz. — Say Anything came to the Marquee Theatre Friday night and gave fans exactly what they came for. The show opened with sets from mewithoutYou, Teen Suicide and Museum Mouth. Directly preceding the Los Angeles pop-punk headliner, mewithoutYou along with their high-energy barefoot drummer, Rick Mazzotta, was the perfect act to get concert-goers warmed up for what was to come.

mewithoutYou - Marquee Theatre
mewithoutYou © Kataklizmic Design

Even as the backline crew prepared the stage for the main act, attendees couldn’t contain their screams of anticipation when Say Anything’s backdrop fell open.

Say Anything - Marquee Theatre
Say Anything © Kataklizmic Design

When the house lights finally dimmed to herald Say Anything onto the stage, the screams were deafening. From the first song to the last, lead vocalist, Max Bemis, brought raw, hard energy to the stage. The group opened with “Give a Damn” from their new album, “I Don’t Think It Is,” released earlier this year in February. And with hardly a breath between songs, they continued into “Say Anything” from their 2012 album.

Say Anything © Kataklizmic Design
Say Anything © Kataklizmic Design

Smiling and swinging the mic around by its cord between lyrics, it was evident that Bemis and the band were genuinely having fun on the stage. With a sea of hands raised in the air, Bemis alternately sang and screamed the words to “Woe” before thrusting the mic toward the audience. The crowd sang in unison, every word committed to memory.

Say Anything © Kataklizmic Design
Say Anything © Kataklizmic Design

 

Say Anything © Kataklizmic Design
Say Anything © Kataklizmic Design

It was clear that even as concert-goers were feeding on Bemis’s energy, he was feeding on theirs too, and their enthusiasm was fueling the performance. But what’s perhaps most striking about Say Anything is their sincere love for their fans. At the end of the song, while concert-goers applauded, Bemis applauded them.

Say Anything’s set included other favorites like “Six Six Six” from their 2014 album “Hebrews” and “Death for my Birthday” from their self-titled 2009 album. Bemis then doled out some sage advice to one 14-year-old he spotted in the audience, advising him not to listen to the next song. “If you can relate to it, that’s awesome,” Bemis said. “Otherwise, you don’t want all this. Trust me,” he said before launching into “17 Coked Up Speeding.”

At one point during the night, Bemis confessed that he was glad to see that so many fans had connected with their latest album, despite the band’s two-year hiatus before the album’s surprise release. Many of the lyrics in Say Anything’s songs relate to Bemis’s troubled past and his struggle with bipolar disorder. But the passion he brings to the stage and the emotions that come through as he sings are what make it real. And it was that realness that concert-goers connected with Friday night.

Sherri DuPree-Bemis
Sherri DuPree-Bemis © Kataklizmic Design

The highlight of the show came when Bemis’s wife, Sherri DuPree-Bemis took the stage for “So Good” from the band’s 2012 album, “Anarchy, My Dear”. Her voice was hauntingly beautiful as it grew in intensity, perfectly complementing Bemis’s own vocals. Their affection for each other is readily apparent when they’re on the stage together, and it was easy to see that fans were engaged, not only with the music, but also with the story behind it.

 

At the end of the night, Bemis sweetly announced, “one more song for you” before playing “Belt” from the band’s 2004 release, “…Is a Real Boy”. But it wasn’t the last song. After exiting the stage to screams of “encore” and people chanting “one more song,” the band came back out. Bemis, rejoined by his wife, Sherri, sang “Two of a Crime,” a duet from the album of the same title that the two recorded together as Perma in 2013. It was followed by “Varicose Visage”.

But something was missing.

Say Anything © Kataklizmic Design
Say Anything © Kataklizmic Design

“One more, for real,” Bemis said. “If you know this song, sing along. If you don’t know it, I don’t know why the fuck you’re at this show.” Say Anything closed out the night with their most popular song, “Alive with the Glory of Love”. Before leaving the stage for the last time, Bemis thanked concert-goers for making it a fun show. And in one last display of affection for their fans, drummer Reed Murray took out his phone to snap a shot of the audience before disappearing backstage.

For concert-goers who came for a night of high-energy punk music that rocked hard and didn’t quit, Say Anything didn’t disappoint.

Check out our review of Say Anything’s new album!
REVIEW: Say Anything’s New Album “I Don’t Think It Is”

PHOTO ALBUM by Katherine Vega

Say Anything – Marquee Theatre 4-22-16

Flickr Album Gallery Powered By: WP Frank

Photography by Katherine Vega, © Kataklizmic Design
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. NO STEALING