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(Pictured: One of our team photographers- Mark Greenawalt – who has been able to have dreams come true over and over with the opportunity to shoot all of his favorite classic rock artists for Burning Hot Events – including the legendary Sir Paul McCartney!)
Phoenix, AZ — On June 26 of this year, Sir Paul McCartney brought an evening of legendary music to Talking Stick Resort Arena. Exactly two months later, Ringo Starr became the second Beatle to grace the stages of Arizona. This is the 30-year anniversary of this touring rock supergroup, Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band, with a shifting lineup that has included legends such as Joe Walsh, Todd Rungren, Clarence Clemons, Peter Frampton, John Entwhistle, and so many more (see list below). Starr is really the only constant member.
This year’s line up is no exception to Starr’s history of building a stellar lineup:
The dueling guitarists were the unlikely pairing of Steve Lukather (Toto) and Colin Hay (Men At Work). These two master songwriters brought along their biggest hits to add to the already incredible setlist. Fans were treated to Toto’s “Rosanna”, “Africa”, and “Hold The Line” and Men At Work’s “Down Under”, “Overkill”, and of course “Who Can It Be Now.”
On the Hammond organ was none other than Gregg Rolie (Santana, Journey) who chipped in the classic Santana songs “Evil Ways”, “Black Magic Woman / Gypsy Queen”, and “Oye Como Va”, but unfortunately nothing from his days with Journey.
Bassist Hamish Stuart (Average White Band) was back after his stint in the lineup from 2006 to 2008. He switched over to guitar when the band dove into the Average White Band standards “Pick Up The Pieces” and “Cut The Cake.”
Gregg Bissonette on drums and Warren Ham on… well, everything else (saxophone, flute, keyboards, percussion, etc.) rounded out the lineup. Both have toured extensively with major recording acts, such as Bissonette’s time with “Diamond” David Lee Roth during the “Eat ‘Em And Smile” era, and Ham’s contributions to Kansas and Toto (now that’s an ironic combo of band names).
All that talent on the revolving stage of the Celebrity Theater culminated in the focal point of the evening; a man who’s former band is arguably the most famous band in the history of rock & roll. And yes, Starr brought a few songs to the setlist from his days with the Fab Four, starting with the only song credited to Lennon–McCartney–Starkey, “What Goes On.” Ringo Starr is the stage name of Sir Richard Starkey, knighted by Prince William on March 20, 2018. The two most popular Beatles songs that featured Starr’s voice where the whimsical “Yellow Submarine” and the song he sang in the guise of the one-and-only Billy Shears, “With A Little Help From My Friends.”
Starr’s credentials make him a legendary musician, but he seemed very unassuming. There was no fabricated swagger or false bravado in his delivery. He was reverent of the talent of his bandmates while clearly letting loose to have fun on stage. Even his attire hinted at high fashion with a jacket and black leather pants, but they were offset by a pair of comfortable sneakers and a rhinestone shirt that said “Peace Rocks”. The peace sign proved to be a prevalent theme throughout the show, from holding up the hand sign for peace to wearing peace necklaces. Starr looked spry and healthy wearing his signature sunglasses and sporting the kempt beard and mustache. Though he is 79 years old, there was nothing lethargic or geriatric about this performance. It was quite the opposite: an energetic and youthful performance from start to finish.
Although there are some Ringo Starr hits embroidered in the fabric of our collective memory, it takes a show like this to remind us of just how many there have been. Eight songs from his solo career broke the top 10 in the US charts and two hit number one (“You’re Sixteen” and “Photograph”). Between 1970 and 2017, Ringo has released 19 solo studio records. The second song of the set started the audience down memory lane with “It Don’t Come Easy” from the 1975 album Blast From Your Past.
Starr shared the spotlight and lead vocal duties with the singers that made their respective songs famous. It was like a karaoke dream where everyone sounded exactly like the record. One highlight was hearing Rolie breathing life into “Black Magic Woman,” and then hearing Lukather shredding on the soulful solos of Carlos Santana, was magical. As the song transitioned to “Gypsy Queen”, it was Gregg Bissonette’s turn to shine as he vamped on the drumset.
A majority of the crowd were old enough to remember the quirky videos of Men At Work on MTV’s heavy rotation in the early 80’s. There were possibly a handful of people that didn’t recognize Colin Hay playing guitar on stage, but everyone recognized that distinctive voice singing “I come from the land down under,” Ham obviously broke out the flute to play the infectious solo on “Down Under” and then later in the show played the famous sax line on “Who Can It Be Now.”
While out of the spotlight, Starr was still an archetypal presence as he rose to his drum throne and commandeered the instrument that he is best known for. The bass drum of his Ludwig drum kit that once sported The Beatles logo, now has a symbolic star and lotus flower logo, presumably in support of the Ringo Starr Art Lotus Foundation.
Being the drummer in the back typically garners less notoriety, especially when you’re standing on the shoulders of giants like Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison. But throughout his career, he has received 9 Grammys, and has twice been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, first as a Beatle and then as a solo artist. Starr played in perfect synchronicity with Bissonette and reminded all of the musicians in the room why he is considered by many to be included in the category of best rock drummer of all time.
The wonderful evening of hit music was capped off with a resounding message of peace when Ringo and the boys joined in on the anthem “Give Peace A Chance,” the anti-war chant that John Lennon and Yoko Ono voiced 50 years ago from room 1742 that still needs to be heard today.
Photographer: Mark Greenawalt
Ringo Starr and His All Starr Band – Celebrity Theatre 8-26-19
Tempe, AZ — At face value, thinking about a period of seventeen years does seem like a long stretch of time. Contrarily, Minus the Bear frontman, Jake Snider, has a different take on the idea because about halfway through the set on their farewell tour at the Marquee Theatre last night, Snider gave the audience some insight into their seventeen year-long career as a band, “Seventeen years feels like almost no time has passed. We appreciate all of you for being here. We’ve got the best fans of anyone.”
This served as a beautiful footnote at the end of the influential band’s creative streak consisting of 6 studio albums and 12 EPs, as well as countless national and international tours. They’ve been highly influential in the math rock genre and are largely considered pioneers of the style, their beginnings predating many noteworthy math rock bands like This Town Needs Guns and Chon.
They clearly expressed their gratitude to the audience, and the feeling was undeniably mutual as the sounds of cheering and clapping rarely died down over the course of the evening. Every crowd has its black sheep though, demonstrated towards the end of the show as one inebriated concert-goer threw a full can of beer at bassist Cory Murchy. To the relief of many, the band didn’t hold the rudeness of one person against the rest of the audience as Snider calmy chimed in over the mic “Please don’t throw your f*ucking beer can at us. Thanks, we love you guys.”
The unforgettable night began with an excellent introduction of the complex music to come thanks to the opening act, Tera Melos. The Sacramento, California-based band pummelled the audience with a frenetic 40 minute set that never once let up in energy.
It all began when Nick Reinhart, the guitarist/vocalist/keyboardist of the band, gave the other members a quick, nearly imperceptible glance, and then they were off with their first song, “Don’t Say I Know”. The band continued their set without uttering a word or letting out a breath between songs while only occasionally looking at each other for brief acknowledgement of what was coming next. This was astounding because of the technicality and otherworldly sounds emanating from Reinhart’s guitar; it takes incredible musicianship to even follow what’s going on as a listener, let alone a Tera Melos band member.
Interspersed between songs were spastic, electronic guitar lines that could often be described as computer beeping in 5/4 time. Some of these sounded reminiscent of dubstep while others bordered more along EDM territory. It was surprising to many fans in attendance that it was coming from a guitar, as well as those more familiar with the band as you’d frequently hear someone new shouting “What?!” or “How?!” from around the room as Reinhart stomped on a new combination of guitar FX pedals.
Another highlight of their incredible set was “Slimed”, with Reinhart screaming “Something about my face, always makes me sick!” as the band followed along perfectly without missing a note. On these merits alone, Tera Melos is not, nor will they ever be, a band to be missed.
Minus the Bear
After fans had about 20 minutes to recover between sets from the mind blowing experience of Tera Melos, Minus the Bear picked up right where the opening act left off.
The band’s embrace of classics like “Pachuca Sunrise”, “The Fix”, and “The Game Needed Me” from their second album Menos Del Oso scattered throughout the set among more recent favorites, such as “Last Kiss” from their final 2017 release, VOIDS served as an anachronistic tribute to their incredible evolution as a band over time. It was a nice touch and always kept you guessing as what was to come next. The band’s sound was also finely tuned to the venue’s sound system, a huge relief considering anything less would have proven unacceptable for a band so musically polished themselves.
Guitarist Dave Knudson was a finger-tapping machine, only taking both his hands off the guitar neck to kneel down and adjust knobs on his plethora of FX pedals. If Knudson and Reinhart were to face off in a gladiator-esque guitar FX duel, it would be impossible to tell who would come out on top. Knudson and keyboardist Alex Rose were the icing on the cake of the intricately layered music, as bassist Murchy and touring drummer Joshua Sparks provided a solid backbone for the songs to breathe new life into the hearts of many listeners.
While farewell tours will always carry bittersweet connotations, this inspiring show served as a proper send-off for some of math rock’s founding fathers with the grateful support of an up-and-coming math rock band. It’s hard to picture it going any better than it did, and many fans stayed until the very end of the show, absorbing every beautiful moment. The legacy of Minus the Bear will live on through not only their own music, but in the hearts and minds of fans worldwide and other math rock bands reinventing the sound that was so new only seventeen short years ago.
Photographer: Mark Greenawalt
Minus the Bear & Tera Melos – Marquee Theatre 12-7-18
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!”
PHOENIX — Pop recording artist Miss Krystle has just released the six-song EP Inevitable as the follow up to her successful Woman In Motion CD. This night was a showcase of the new songs along with an offering of music from her first three studio CDs. The intimate VIP party was held in a controlled private studio called the Premier Room at Premier Studios on Indian School Road. Guests arrived in anticipation of the live show and explored the venue and the well-stocked merchandise booth while networking with friends and industry associates.
Miss Krystle lit up the room at 8:30pm when she hit the stage dressed all in black; a dramatic contrast to her signature fiery red mane. The set started with “Right Movement” a collaboration with KJ Swaka (Pendulum and Destroit) and “Take Me Home” which was produced by Zion Brock. The hard-hitting electronica tracks are brought to life by the solid rhythm section of That Orko on bass and Brent Hensley on drums. This music transcends labels of pop or electronic dance music. It is edgy and in-your-face, but it is uniquely Miss Krystle. With lyrics like, “I’m a wolf, not a sheep,” she has no regrets in blazing new trails forging her own sound.
Miss Krystle commands the stage and pours her soul into each line. The fans in the audience are under her spell and sing along with the next two songs from Woman In Motion; “Dukes Up” and “Pressure”. The high energy has been non-stop and her performance has been an aerobic workout, but still the vocals are spot on. From assertive lines of angst to soft soaring notes she is matching the studio versions of the songs note for note.
At the end of this introductory frenzy, there is a catharsis. The band exits the stage and Miss Krystle is left alone with keyboard and a spotlight. This is where we learn that Miss Krystle is more than a pretty face with rock star vocals as she demonstrates her classical training on piano and delivers some of her original songwriting. The three-song solo “acoustic” set starts off with her song “I Don’t Cry” from the Run CD. This song has a beautiful music video where she performs in elegant body paint and has over 200,000 views. The crowd cheers as she begins singing. Next up is “Relevant”; the first song played from the new EP. In an interview with The Arizona Republic, Miss Krystle described the message of this song saying “The only person who should make you feel relevant and loved is ultimately you.” The studio version of the song has a sonically big production that conveys the emotional message, but ironically this stripped down piano/vocal version may have emoted even more heartfelt emotion. The third song in the set was a totally unexpected cover of “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys. This brought a smile to everyone’s face and it seemed to be a true expression of love to some lucky person in the room.
The band returned to the stage and the energy again cranked up for two more songs from the new EP, “Inevitable” and “Wild Like Fire.” Miss Krystle has been very prolific at self-producing high quality music videos and her latest is for the song “Inevitable.” In an industry where record deals seem to have lost their teeth, she has been successfully gaining celebrity through self-promotion and a lot of hard work. Her new songs are collaborations with her musical partner, That Orko, who has helped to elevate her production sound and inspired her to write songs that she says are some of her “best music to date.”
Miss Krystle isn’t relying on sex appeal to connect with her audience, but she definitely isn’t trying to hide it either. There is a seductiveness to her moves that matches the message in “Focused All Night” from Woman In Motion. She strips one layer of black and eventually focuses on each person in the room, one at a time, making eye contact and making a personal connection. One can envision her doing this same performance on a national stage with backup dancers, lights and pyrotechnics, a 10-piece band, and a stadium crowd. Although her surroundings were much more reserved, her performance proved that she is ready for prime time.
The 14-song set culminated in trio of covers that kept in sync with the high energy of the evening with “Lap Dance” by NERD, “Breath” by The Prodigy, and an homage to Beyonce with “Crazy In Love” that had everyone moving. Lastly, it was back to an original for the final song of the night which was “Unforgettable”…literally and figuratively. This song’s haunting melody is addictive and complements the lyrical intent to never fade into anonymity, “Burning in your memory you know I’m unforgettable…On your mind and in your dreams I’m a part of history.” The band left it all on the stage and there was no holding back to put on a fantastic show.
This was a VIP experience so everyone had their chance to meet the band, take selfies, and get their CDs, prints, and t-shirts autographed. The venue was a perfect place for a band showcase and the sound was appropriately loud while remaining clear. The only annoyance was the automated lighting chase that wasn’t synched to the music and each scene was monochromatic. Other than that, the space was a perfect venue to promote the new EP from Miss Krystle. Look out for her next music video release for the song “Relevant” coming soon to her bustling Youtube channel.