Tag Archives: Phoenix

REVIEW: Tool‘s Epic Showmanship Takes Fans on a Sonic Odyssey for Night Two at Footprint Center (2-10-24)

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PHOENIX — On an unexpectedly brisk February evening, amidst the peculiar backdrop of lightning streaking across the Arizona sky, an eager audience gathered to experience the second night of Tool in Phoenix, accompanied by special guests Elder, on their simply-named “Winter Tour.” It comes as no shock that Tool effortlessly filled their hometown venue for two consecutive nights. These performances were a delight for fans of progressive rock, as both bands firmly reside within this genre’s realm.

Elder

Elder’s journey began as a trio in 2006, in a quaint seaside town in Massachusetts before eventually relocating to Berlin, Germany. Evolving into the present-day roster of 4 members, lead vocalist and guitarist Nick DiSalvo stands as the sole remaining founding member. The group boasts an impressive discography, including, but not limited to, six full-length albums. 

Comparisons abound between Elder and Tool, and while Elder tends to lean more toward the classifications of doom metal and stoner rock, there are undeniable similarities between the two groups. The 4-song, 40-minute set, which felt more like a mesmerizing jam session by a highly skilled and technically proficient ensemble, seemed to defy the passage of time. The band does not do very much that would be considered new, but what they do is done extremely well. 

Nick DiSalvo of Elder performing at Footprint Center
Nick DiSalvo (Vocalist, Guitarist), Elder
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

Even without the elaborate visual show that Tool brings to the table, Elder’s performance—accompanied only by their name on the screen behind them—was very enjoyable. It served as a compelling example of why you should show up early to witness the openers. In fact, DiSalvo thanked the crowd for coming early to see them. They are worth catching when they come to town, and one can only hope they will swing by again sooner than later.

Tool

Among the fans in the arena, there was a palpable sense of anticipation, steadily mounting as the clock ticked towards 8:30. Nearly every attendee had settled into their seats about 15 minutes before the lights dimmed, all eager for what was to come—and with good reason. The opening sequence offered a tantalizing glimpse of the extraordinary spectacle about to unfold before their eyes.

The lights dimmed, the crowd erupted into cheers, and a heartbeat from “Third Eye” began. As Tool’s widely-acclaimed drummer Danny Carey climbed behind the kit, a massive skull moved across the screen from right to left in an arc. A second pass gave the skull muscles and blank eyes, a third and final pass gave it skin, irises, and pupils. By this time, guitarist Adam Jones and bassist Justin Chancellor had walked out, taking up their places in front of Carey.

Maynard James Keenan (Vocalist), Tool
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

Tool sets the stage in an unconventional way: The bassist and guitarist stand in front of the elevated drummer, who has quite the legendary kit surrounding him. On each side, slightly set back, are platforms mostly shrouded in darkness. Behind Carey, there is a walkway, serving as the domain of vocalist Maynard James Keenan, who adamantly prefers not to be at the forefront of attention. He has been known to face away from the audience to immerse himself in the right mindset for certain songs, but he did not do so this evening.

As the notes for “Fear Inoculum” began, Keenan could be seen pacing in circles on the stage-right platform. Keenan rarely stops moving during the show, and can be seen frequently crouching down as if he is preparing for an unseen opponent he could employ his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skills against, given his black belt proficiency. He also rhythmically slaps his legs or pounds his chest to the beat when not singing. In essence, Keenan is a spectacle unto himself, captivating the audience with his dynamic presence.

Maynard James Keenan (Vocalist), Tool
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

There is an old adage that everyone knows by now: The only things certain in life are death and taxes. But nowadays, it seems almost incomplete without adding a third certainty: Maynard James Keenan’s disdain for all manner of cell phone usage at concerts. No matter which side you fall on the issue, there is no denying that as a concertgoer in these times, you are likely to partially watch the show through the lens of someone in front of you as they hold up their phone to record a video. Keenan has no problem letting you know how he feels about this, and in fact he insists that venues eject people who have their phones out. 30 or so people were reportedly kicked out during the prior night’s show for violating this rule, and at least 4 were spotted being escorted from the floor on this night. 

After “Fear Inoculum” ended, Keenan addressed the ban on cell phones by laying into the culture of addiction to false connections, informing people if they could not put their phones away for 2 hours, they should seek help. His reasoning was that he—and the band—wanted everyone to be present in the moment as they were taking the crowd on a journey. With the exception of the few who discovered that yes, it was still chilly outside, and yes, security was dead serious about enforcement of the policy, the audience as a whole respected the artists’ wishes. 

Maynard James Keenan (Vocalist), Tool
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

Keenan was not using hyperbole when discussing the journey to come. The show truly is a transformative experience, with visuals that sometimes evoke the sensation of a particularly intense trip on psychedelic mushrooms. A prime example occurred when the screen behind the band abruptly showcased towering, 40-foot-tall aliens peering out at the crowd. Overall, the visuals behind the band are absolutely incredible to see, and there is no denying that they immensely enhance the experience. It should also be noted that Jones is an accomplished makeup artist and set builder—including work on Jurassic Park—and as such, some of the visuals came from him. 

Adam Jones (Guitarist), Tool
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

Tool has a decent-sized body of work, with just over 50 songs in total, but the shows tend to have somewhat sparse setlists due to the length of their songs. This show was no exception, with just 11 songs, five of which came from 2019’s Fear Inoculum. There was a 12-minute intermission after the first 7 songs, where seemingly the entire arena made a mad dash to offload trash, visit concessions for some more food or drinks, and/or make a pitstop in the restroom. 

For those who managed to return in time, they were treated to the sight of Carey—sporting a personalized Phoenix Suns jersey and basketball shorts—standing before a colossal gong. After gently massaging the gong’s surface with his drumsticks, Carey took a mallet, pointed back toward the crowd, and delivered a resounding strike. Following this striking display, he settled behind his drum kit and unleashed a multi-minute drum solo, captivating the audience as it was magnificently showcased on the towering screens behind the stage.

Danny Carey (Drummer), Tool
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

Carey’s drumming prowess is unparalleled, a true maestro behind the kit. It’s not only enthralling to watch but also a delight to listen to him weave his rhythmic magic. 

Next up was Chancellor, who delivered a relatively swift bass solo. Despite its brevity, witnessing him coax sounds from the bass that seem impossible was incredibly impressive.

Justin Chancellor (Bassist), Tool
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

Lastly, but certainly not least, was Jones, who effortlessly shifts between styles, making it a bit more challenging to emulate him. However, witnessing someone defy “traditional” styles in such a remarkable manner is truly awe-inspiring. It’s a sheer pleasure to observe this trio craft music in ways that most can only dream of replicating. 

Adam Jones (Guitarist), Danny Carey (Drummer), & Justin Chancellor (Bassist) of Tool
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

There would be a total of 4 more songs, including “Flood,” which saw confetti dropping from the ceiling during the intro. Right before the final set, Keenan informed the crowd – almost resentfully – that since they had been good, they could film the final song. He also brought up the fact that he would be touring with A Perfect Circle and Puscifer, with a return to the valley in April. He then told the audience that they could take out their “stupid” phones, but warned that if they used their flash while taking photos or had their light on while filming, he would come down and “kick them in their vaginas.” As if on cue, someone immediately held up their phone with the light on, which drew Keenans’ wrath, as well as the attention of security.

What other song is better to close the show with than one of the most recognizable songs in rock, “Schism”? The opening notes may not be quite as recognizable as the riff, but almost any rock fan is immediately going to recognize those notes. It is fun to watch Tool live; every facet of the show is nothing short of entertaining, and the journey that Keenan promises to take the fans lives up to his word. As the final notes faded, Keenan left his perch for the first time, fist bumping each of his band mates before exiting the stage and allowing them to take the final bows they deserve. Keenan is an anti-star, if you will, and yet he certainly has the gravity of one. 

Maynard James Keenan (Vocalist), Tool
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

Do yourself a favor and go see Tool next time they come to town. And if you are able, go see Puscifer and A Perfect Circle with Primus in Phoenix on April 16th or 17th (SOLD OUT) as well. Especially considering it will be Keenan’s 60th birthday celebration, we have every confidence they will not leave you disappointed. More Tool and Sessanta tour dates on Live Nation.

View Tool’s Phoenix Setlist (Feb. 10) on Setlist.fm

Photo Gallery

Photographer: Katherine Amy Vega

Tool & Elder – Footprint Center 2-10-24

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

The Paper Kites to Kick off West Coast Tour This February In Support of New Album At the Roadhouse

Australian indie-folk groundbreakers The Paper Kites make their way back to North America this February for the final leg of their tour in support of their latest acclaimed album, At The Roadhouse. The nearly sold-out headline tour starts on February 27th in Salt Lake City with stops in Denver, Phoenix, Pioneertown, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, and more. Full list of dates below.

‘At The Roadhouse’ LP

Last fall, The Paper Kites set out on the first leg of their At The Roadhouse tour, selling out numerous dates, including Toronto’s 1,500-capacity Dan Forth Music Hall and Washington DC’s historic 1,200-capacity Howard Theatre, as well as their NYC, Austin, and Durham shows.

Watch the Band Perform “Till The Flame Turns Blue” LIVE

At The Roadhouse is the continuation of an odds-defying run for The Paper Kites that has seen them achieve accolades like a certified Platinum record in the US, over a billion streams and 8M monthly listeners on Spotify, and continuously-growing sold-out audiences across continents.

Removing themselves from the typical pageantry that accompanies accolades like that, the group found inspiration for this new album by relocating to the remote village of Campbells Creek – away from the pressures of daily life – where they joyfully filled The Roadhouse with music around the clock for weeks on end. While often creating new songs by day, performing them to a growing fan community at night, and recording right there the next morning – the resulting sixteen songs form a touching ode to what waits for us on the winding roads of love, loss, acceptance, and wanderlust.

The Paper Kites West Coast Tour Dates

Get Tickets Here

  • Feb 27 – Salt Lake City, UT @ UTMetro Music Hall – SOLD OUT
  • Feb 28 – Denver, CO @ Bluebird Theatre – SOLD OUT
  • Mar 1 – Phoenix, AZ @ Crescent Ballroom – SOLD OUT
  • Mar 2 – Pioneertown, CA @ Pappy & Harriet’s – SOLD OUT
  • Mar 3 – Pioneertown, CA @ Pappy & Harriet’s – SECOND DATE ADDED
  • Mar 4 – San Diego, CA @ The Observatory North Park – SOLD OUT
  • Mar 5 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Fonda Theatre – LOW TICKETS
  • Mar 6 – San Francisco, CA @ August Hall – SOLD OUT
  • Mar 8 – Portland, OR @ Wonder Ballroom – SOLD OUT
  • Mar 9 – Seattle, WA @ Neptune – SOLD OUT
  • Mar 10 – Vancouver, BC @ Vogue Theatre – LOW TICKETS
  • Mar 12 – Calgary, CA @ Bella Concert Hall – LOW TICKETS
  • Mar 13 – Edmonton, CA @ McDougall United Church – LOW TICKETS
  • Mar 15 – Winnipeg, CA @ Burton Cummings Theatre – LOW TICKETS
  • Mar 16 – Minneapolis, MN @ Fine Line Music Café– SOLD OUT
  • Mar 17 – Chicago, IL @ Thalia Hall – SOLD OUT

The Paper Kites have more upcoming tour dates in Canada, Europe, and Australia. View Full List of Tour Dates Here


At The Roadhouse

Listen to the Album Here

‘At the Roadhouse’ album artwork | Photo: Dara Munnis. @daramunnis

Tracklist

  1. Midnight Moon
  2. Till The Flame Turns Blue
  3. Black & Thunder
  4. Marietta
  5. Rolling On Easy
  6. Hurts So Good
  7. Burn The Night Away
  8. Good Nights Gone
  9. June’s Stolen Car
  10. Maria, It’s Time
  11. Green Valleys
  12. The Sweet Sound Of You
  13. I Don’t Want To Go That Way
  14. Pocket Full Of Rain
  15. Mercy
  16. Darkness At My Door

 “anyone who steps into The Roadhouse — in person or via listening to the recording — can carry with them a light against the darkness”  –  No Depression


The Paper Kites are:

  • Sam Bentley (Lead Vocals, Guitars, Harmonica & Mandolin)
  • Christina Lacy (Backing Vocals, Pianos, Wurlitzer, Rhodes, Guitars)
  • David Powys (Backing Vocals, Guitars, Banjo)
  • Samuel Rasmussen (Bass)
  • Josh Bentley (Drums)

With The Roadhouse Band:

  • Hannah Cameron (Backing Vocals, Organs, Piano & Percussion)
  • Chris Panousakis (Backing Vocals, Guitars, Percussion)
  • Matt Dixon (Pedal Steel, Guitars)

REVIEW: The HU’s Thunderous Finale of the Warrior Souls Tour at The Van Buren (10-26-2023)

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PHOENIX — On a late October evening in Downtown Phoenix, in a venue named for the street it sits next to – Van Buren – an audience gathered to witness an incredible night of musical diversity, and the final stop on the “Warrior Souls” tour. Three dynamic bands would take the stage this evening, bringing the desert night to life with powerful metal riffs and the pulsating rhythms from these unique bands: The HU, Blind Channel, and NERV. The HU is renowned for blending Mongolian tradition and metal, transporting the audience to far off horizons. Finnish nu metal band Blind Channel ignited the stage with incredibly kinetic music, and the hybrid genre band NERV left a lasting impression with their performance. It was an evening where boundaries were transcended, and as a result, the crowd was left craving more.

NERV

NERV performing at The Van Buren
NERV
| Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

NERV bills itself as a genre-bending rock band, which is an apt description, as their music crosses boundaries between emo and metal, and some pop mixed in for good measure. Formed in 2016, the Sacramento, CA-based band is rather new to touring life, as they have only toured three times since forming. They released their first album We’re All Patients Here in October of 2022. However, while newer to the touring life and new to the majority of the audience, the band managed to do something that all openers dream of: win over an audience who has never had any exposure to them. 

Dillon Jones - lead singer of NERV - singing in Phoenix
Dillon Jones (Vocalist), NERV
| Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

Lead vocalist Dillon Jones and guitarist and back-up vocalist Scott Buchanan took turns bantering with the audience, with Buchanan immediately gaining fans by wearing a Steve Nash Phoenix Suns jersey on-stage – unfortunately, the Suns would fall to the Lakers shortly after the NERV set ended – and both Jones and Buchanan made sure there was never a dull moment or awkward pauses during their set. Buchanan brought up the Arizona Diamondbacks’ improbable World Series run, which drew loud cheers. Jones also mentioned that singing karaoke until 2 in the morning was a really bad idea, apparently alluding to an incident earlier on the tour where the group had a little too much fun – if that’s even possible. 

Buchanan and Jones are joined onstage by guitarist Jordan Grokett and drummer Tyler Clark, and the band put together a 30 minute set that was, in short, extremely enjoyable, and left many hoping for more from the group. Jones has vocals that switch from a buttery-smooth emo style to a gritty sound that would fit in well with Breaking Benjamin, as well as other giants of metal. There is a bright future for this band, and if spotted on a bill as an opener, it is well-worth your time to show up early. You will not be disappointed.

Blind Channel

Blind Channel
| Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

Up next was Blind Channel, a Finnish nu metal band that formed in 2013, and represented Finland in the 2021 Eurovision contest. They would finish in sixth place in the competition with their song “Dark Side.” The organizers of the Eurovision contest asked the band not to flip the audience off – something that did happen during this show, with both the audience and the band playfully flipping each other off – as the Eurovision contest is a family friendly show, so to get around this, the band painted their middle fingers red. 

Niko Moilanen (Vocalist), Blind Channel
Niko Moilanen (Vocalist), Blind Channel
| Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

The show started off with “Happy Doomsday,” sung to the tune of “Happy Birthday,” with the band wasting absolutely no time in cranking the energy all the way up to 11 as soon as they started the show off. The band was heavily influenced by Linkin Park, and watching co-vocalists Joel Hokka and Niko Moilanen sing using screams that would have made Chester Bennington proud, it becomes very apparent just how influential Bennington and Mike Shinoda were.

In fact, “Scream” from their 2018 album Blood Brothers was dedicated to Bennington following his tragic passing. The lyrics make it very clear just how much they admired Bennington: “My hero, where did you go?/You still echo deep inside my bonesYou gave a choice to those who wanted to bleed/You gave a voice to those who wanted to scream.” The band also did a cover of “Numb” on video, but the song was never released as a standalone. 

Hokka and Moilanen are joined onstage by guitarist Joonas Porko, bassist Olli Matela, drummer Tommi Lalli, and DJ/percussionist Aleksi Kaunisvesi.

Blind Channel's vocalist Joel Hokka head banging
Joel Hokka (Vocalist), Blind Channel
| Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

The band expressed gratitude for being in town, for being on the tour, and made sure to inform everyone where they came from. The band is known in the EU, but had not made a name for themselves stateside. They call themselves the “Backstreet Boys of the metal scene,” and in fact ended their show with a short singalong to the song “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back),” which may have been a bit confusing to anyone who is unfamiliar with the band and unaware of their nickname. There is a bit of a boy band element with the group, so it does fit, but they are far more than a boy band. 

Blind Channel performing in Phoenix
Blind Channel
| Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

Blind Channel, like NERV, should be a must-see when spotted on a bill. The blast of pure energy and fun that comes from this group had a profound effect in bringing up the energy level of the crowd. You could not help but have a great time with these guys. The stage presence, the interactions, the ability to get the entire room to do what they asked with absolutely no hesitation (at one point asking the entire audience to crouch way down until given the word to go back to normal), were remarkable. It is just genuinely fun music with a band that is very good at what they do.

The HU 

The HU performing at The Van Buren
The HU
| Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

To say the crowd was buzzing, ready for The HU would be a bit of an understatement. The HU (which translates to the Mongolian root word for “Human being”) burst onto the scene in 2016 and has grown steadily in popularity ever since.

They are unique in that they only sing in Mongolian, including their Metallica covers, which are arguably significantly better than the originals due to the depth of sound that the traditional instruments provide, as well as the throat singing that provides a unique sound that builds on the growl of James Hetfield. Part of this success comes due to their extensive touring, including quite a few tours throughout the US. They are relatively frequent visitors to Arizona – frequent, that is, for a band that is based in a country half a world away from the Sonoran Desert. The band visited twice in 2022, once this year, and will undoubtedly be back many more times. 

Enkush (Vocalist, Morin khuur), The HU
Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

The band expands on tour, from the four core members up to a total of eight, which allows them to bring their immense depth of sound to life. The band uses traditional Mongolian instruments and Tuvan throat singing, or Khöömei, as well as the more modern electric guitar and electric bass. 

Temka (Tovshuur), The HU
Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

The core band consists of:

  • Galbadrakh “Gala” Tsendbaatar, the lead vocalist and one of the throat singers, who also plays the morin khuur. This instrument is known as the national instrument of Mongolia and is sometimes called a horsehead fiddle.
  • Nyamjantsan “Jaya” Galsanjamts, another throat singer, who plays the tsuur, an important instrument in Mongolian music culture, as well as the tumur hhuur, which is similar to a jaw harp in the US.
  • Enkhsaikhan “Enkush” Batjargal, who is also a throat singer and plays the morin khuur.
  • Temuulen “Temka” Naranbaatar, responsible for backing vocals and playing the tovshuur. The tovshuur is a handmade instrument with two or three strings and may resemble a guitar at first glance.

The four touring members include:

  • Unumunkh “Ono” Maralkhuu, who plays percussion, tumur hhuur, and provides backing vocals.
  • Jambaldorj “Jamba” Ayush, the guitarist and backing vocalist.
  • Nyamdavaa “Davaa” Byambaa, the bassist and backing vocalist.
  • Odbayar “Odko” Gantumur, the drummer.

The HU played a 15-song set, drawing mostly from their 2022 album Rumble of Thunder, including “Black Thunder,” “This is Mongol,” and “YUT Hövende,” which they dedicated to the indigenous people around the world, but especially to those affected by the Maui wildfire.

Jaya (Vocalist, Tumur hhuur, Tsuur), The HU
Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

The lyrics of their songs are often about war and the old ways, with references to war in the song “Wolf Totem.” The wolf is a sacred symbol in Mongolia, with the Mongols considering them the messengers of heaven, and folklore holds that the great Chinggis Khaan – known to the west as Genghis Khan – came from a union between a wolf and an elk. As such, the song sounds like a war chant, one that would strike extreme fear into the hearts of any unfortunate foe who happened to hear it coming over the horizon, while simultaneously giving the army the ability to run through walls for their leader. 

Gala (Vocalist, Morin khuur), The HU
Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

Throat singing was banned during much of the 20th century by the communist regimes that held the areas that the Mongolians call home due to the fact it was considered “backwards,” and the desire to eliminate all traditions and rituals from a culture before being forcibly assimilated by every communist regime in history. This changed in the 80s, and there has been an explosion of throat singers since the ban was lifted, allowing the general public to once again take part in their traditions. 

There is another layer to the greatness that is The HU: The music videos are absolutely gorgeous, showing off the beauty of the Mongolian steppes, telling an incredible visual and audio story. Each music video, each song leaves you wanting more. 

The same can be said about the shows: they are loud, they are fun, and if you are a fan of metal, you will absolutely have an amazing experience. The show ended with a cover of Metallica’s “Sad But True,” the only song in the encore, and the perfect end to an incredible show. 

The HU performing at The Van Buren
The HU
| Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

The HU and NERV have not yet announced new tour dates, but Blind Channel will spend much of spring 2024 touring Europe. While there are no current tours or local shows announced, it is well worth your while to listen to the catalogs and music videos from these extraordinary bands.

Photo Gallery

Photographer: Rodrigo Izquierdo

The HU, Blind Channel, & NERV – The Van Buren 10-23-26

Photography © Reagle Photography
All Rights Reserved

REVIEW: Nickelback Ignites Footprint Center with Brantley Gilbert & Josh Ross (7-12-23)

PHOENIX – The “Get Rollin’ Tour” made a tour stop in Arizona last Wednesday night, featuring Nickelback, Brantley Gilbert, and Josh Ross. The music was a mix of country and rock, and fans of all ages came ready to party. The show was held at Footprint Center, which serves as home to the Phoenix Suns, Phoenix Mercury, and the Rattlers. The arena has had many names since opening in 1996. A few previous names that may sound familiar are Talking Stick Resort Arena, US Airways Center, and America West Arena. It was once the home of the Phoenix Coyotes in the late ’90s. It’s also the venue for various events such as professional wrestling, Disney on Ice, and concerts.

Josh Ross

Josh Ross is a Canadian country singer, and he opened the show and warmed up the crowd with his eight-song setlist. His cover of “Iris” by The Goo Goo Dolls had everyone singing along, with their phones’ flashlights waving in the air.

Brantley Gilbert

Brantley Gilbert - Footprint Center
Brantley Gilbert (Vocalist, Guitarist)
| Photography:
Kara Blakemore © All Rights Reserved

Brantley Gilbert is a country rock singer from Georgia, and he knows how to put on a show with flair. He opened with “Kick It In The Sticks,” and he brought the heat – pyro and fog continuously blasted on stage.

Ben Sims (Drummer), Brantley Gilbert
| Photography:
Kara Blakemore © All Rights Reserved

We live in a world where we can’t punch anyone in the face anymore. I went to my social media, but I forgot my passwords. So, I decided to write the trolls a song instead,” Gilbert said before playing “Bury Me Upside Down” from the album So Help Me God.

Before singing “Son of the Dirty South,” Gilbert explained how he wrote the song with Jelly Roll, and that they both take pride in being boys from the South. He aimed to transform Phoenix into the dirty South for a few moments – a vision readily embraced by the enthusiastic crowd.

Noah Henson ( Guitarist), Brantley Gilbert
| Photography:
Kara Blakemore © All Rights Reserved

Gilbert played seventeen songs in total, including five covers. The audience cheered and sang along with every song. His energetic performance and ability to connect with the audience were amazing. His voice is a perfect blend of rock-infused country music, and fans loved his raw and authentic stage performance.

Nickelback

Chad Kroeger of Nickelback
Chad Kroeger (Vocalist, Guitarist), Nickelback
Photography:
Kara Blakemore © All Rights Reserved

The Canadian rock band Nickelback formed in 1995 and is still going strong, despite anything their haters might say. Chad Kroeger is the band’s lead vocalist, Ryan Peake is their rhythm guitarist, keyboardist, and backing vocalist, Daniel Adair is the drummer, and Mike Kroeger is the bass guitarist. The tour is supporting their seventh and newest album, Get Rollin’, which was released in September 2022.

Mike Kroeger (Bassist), Nickelback
| Photography:
Kara Blakemore © All Rights Reserved

Before the band steps on stage, a yellow CGI van with a red stripe appears on the big screen. It’s the symbol of their current tour. Then posters of each band member flash on the big screen with the words “Wanted Dead or Alive.” The crowd is on their feet and screaming when the video ends, and the CGI van turns onto an exit, and the highway signs read, “Phoenix, 12 parsecs.”

The first song is “San Quentin” from their newest album, and the audience is ready to rock out. After the song, Chad Kroeger addresses the crowd, asking, “Let’s see if you remember the words to this one.” They begin to play “Savin’ Me” from their album All The Right Reasons.

Ryan Peake (Gutiarist, Backup Vocalist), Nickelback
| Photography:
Kara Blakemore © All Rights Reserved

The yellow CGI van returns to the screen, racing down a dark road before they play “Animals.” A guitar riff fills the air as a fiery phoenix lands on the CGI van and transforms it into a sexy muscle car. Blasts of pyro pop, and screams are heard all around the arena in excitement. As the song concludes, Chad Kroeger thanks the audience for their energy and excitement. He says, “It’s crowds like you that make me want to do this for the rest of my fucking life. Cheers.” He then drinks a shot with the crowd and adds, “It’s an honor and a fucking privilege to play for you.

Chad Kroeger (Vocalist, Guitarist), Nickelback
| Photography:
Kara Blakemore © All Rights Reserved

I’m going to play a song that would probably get us canceled today. But then again, they’ve been trying to cancel us for twenty years,” Chad Kroeger jokes, and they play “Figured You Out” from their album The Long Road.

Nickelback covers Steve Earle’s “Copperhead Road,” and to surprise the audience, Gilbert and Ross return to the stage to sing along. The crowd eats it up, and the dark arena fills with phones filming the three singing and jamming together.

After playing “High Time,” Chad Kroeger chuckles and says, “We snuck a new one in on you. Has anyone heard it?” The fans respond with cheers, affirming their familiarity with the song. Proving after twenty-eight years that their loyal following still listens to and loves them.

Chad Kroeger (Vocalist, Guitarist) & Daniel Adair (Drummer), Nickelback
Photography:
Kara Blakemore © All Rights Reserved

Chad Kroeger picks a lucky lady from the audience to come up and sing a fan favorite, “Rockstar.” The woman is starstruck as she is welcomed to the stage and handed a mic. But she soon gets into the song, sings a bit, and dances as the band plays around her.

When playing “Those Days,” movies, TV shows, bands, and MTV logos from the ’80s appear on the big screen as the band reflects on the simpler times of growing up.

Mike Kroeger (Bassist), Nickelback
| Photography:
Kara Blakemore © All Rights Reserved

Chad Kroeger smiles at the crowd and says, “You’ve got my vote for the best crowd on tour. Phoenix is fucking amazing.” Just before singing “How You Remind Me” from their album Silver Side Up.

The band thanks the crowd and steps off stage for a few minutes while the crowd cheers and cries for an encore. Nickelback returns to applause and cheers before playing “Gotta Be Somebody” from their album Dark Horse.

Chad Kroeger (Vocalist, Guitarist) & Daniel Adair (Drummer), Nickelback
Photography:
Kara Blakemore © All Rights Reserved

Chad Kroeger speaks to the crowd a final time, saying, “I’m going to be honest with you, as I normally am, incredibly honest to a fault. Earlier today, we did an interview with somebody from a foreign country, and they just started asking us all these shitty fucking questions, and it absolutely ruined my fucking day until I got on this stage, and I heard you.” He pauses as fans cheer and fists shoot up into the air. He continues, “And you turned it all around. I want to thank you from the bottom of my fucking heart, Phoenix. Thank you. I want to take you with me to every fucking city so you can give lessons on how a rock ‘n roll crowd is supposed to behave. I’m in such a good fucking mood right now. Phoenix! Let’s have some fun!” They wrap up the night with tons of pyro and the powerful song, “Burn It to the Ground.”

The “Get Rollin’ Tour” was fiery and left the audience with memories they’ll treasure for a long time. This tour is the perfect blend of country and rock and should not be missed.

Photo Gallery

Photography: Kara Blakemore

Nickelback & Brantley Gilbert – Footprint Center 7-12-23

Photography © Electric Eye Photo AZ
All Rights Reserved

REVIEW: Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band — a Memorable Evening of Rock ‘N’ Roll Intimacy at Celebrity Theatre (5-20-23)

PHOENIX — Thinking of the history of popular music, especially rock ‘n’ roll history, I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of people who were “there.” Every legendary artist started small, as even the biggest artists of all time had those early shows before it all blew up, and inexplicably there were people — average everyday people — who were lucky enough to be “there” to see those struggling performers before they turned into superstars.  

Still walking around are those who saw Elvis play local shows in Memphis, Bob Dylan play coffee houses in New York or, most mind-blowing of all to me, The Beatles play The Cavern Club in Liverpool. For the rest of us, those artists existed bigger than life, playing the biggest stages in the world. Unless you were one of those lucky individuals in The Cavern Club, or The Star Club in Hamburg, they only existed as mega stars, playing the biggest venues the 60’s had to offer. 

We would never get as close or as intimate as those lucky individuals who were there for those early days before they were legends, that is unless you were lucky enough to catch Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band at Celebrity Theatre on one of two nights at their Phoenix stop on the tour. The Celebrity Theatre is a rare wonder that has no such thing as a “bad seat,” with its smaller intimate setting in the round with a rotating stage dead-center. It is certainly the most up-close anyone is likely to get to any of these legends since they first began their careers in bars and small clubs. 

Celebrity Theatre’s illuminated sign welcoming concertgoers to the sold out Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band show on 5-20-23
Photography:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

Ringo Starr and His All-Star Band

The “All-Starr Band” concept was originally conceived in 1989 by Ringo, with the idea that he would put together a band, not just of professional hired guns to help him perform many of his hits across his storied career from The Beatles to his many incredible solo records, but instead pack the band with fellow legendary performers who also had a bottomless well of hits from which to pull. 

Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band
Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band
| Photography:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

Over the years, the Ringo’s All-Starr Band has included members of The Band, Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street Band, The Eagles, The Who, Dr. John, Todd Rundgren, Peter Frampton, and the “fifth Beatle” Mr. Billy Preston. This, the 15th iteration of Ringo’s All-Starr Band, included Edgar Winter, Hamish Staurt from Average White Band, Steve Lukather from Toto, and Colin Hay from Men at Work. The band is rounded out with Warren Ham who has played with Kansas and Toto (nice pairing) on saxophone, flute, and keyboards and Gregg Bissonette, who has played with seemingly everyone (seriously, look him up) on all things percussion. 

Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band
| Photography:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

What of course makes the All-Starr Band so fun is that any given member could step up to the microphone and have enough hits at their disposal to play the show all by themselves. All of this results in a kind of jamboree of fun, as members take turns stepping into the spotlight for a song, only to then pass the spotlight to the next member, as the show rotates around the already rotating stage (if you’ve never been to the Celebrity Theatre, you need to get there for a show). 

Steve Lukather, Warren Ham, Ringo Starr
Steve Lukather, Warren Ham, & Ringo Starr
| Photography:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

Ringo opened the show with a raucous cover of Carl Perkins’ “Matchbox,” a staple of The Beatles early live shows and later showing up as a single off of the Long Tall Sally EP. It was followed by “It Don’t Come Easy,” arguably Ringo’s most soulful vocal performance from his solo records. After blazing through “What Goes On” from The Beatles’ Rubber Soul, Ringo seceded the spotlight and moved to the drums. 

Ringo Starr (Vocalist, Drummer)
| Photography:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

This began what makes the All-Starr Band concept so much fun every time: each performer taking turns stepping up to the microphone to perform one of their own hits. Leading off was Edgar Winter who played his now 51-year-old hit “Free Ride,” which sounded as fresh and fun that night as it did the first time any of us played it in our cars with the windows down and the volume up.

Edgar Winter
Edgar Winter (Vocalist, Keyboardist)
| Photography:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

This was followed by Steve Lukather leading the band through “Roseanna,” with the crowd spiritedly singing along and pumping their fist in time with the chord changes, Hamish Stuart playing a ripping version of Average White Band’s “Pick Up the Pieces,” and Colin Hay taking the band through an extended version of Men At Work’s hit “Down Under” that included a fun call-and-respond with the crowd. “I wrote this song in forty minutes, and it’s sustained me for forty years,” he told the crowd prior to starting the song. 

Steve Lukather
Steve Lukather (Vocalist, Guitarist)
| Photography:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

At that time, Ringo returned from behind the drum kit for a run through of “Boys,” his first vocal performance on The Beatles first album Please, Please Me, “I’m the Greatest” from Ringo (a song written for him by John Lennon), and “Yellow Submarine,” which a quick scan of the theatre revealed that every generation of fan in attendance — from those who were there from the start with The Beatles to little kids who have since grown up with the band through their parents and grandparents love for them — was joyfully and exuberantly singing along. Following this, as the crowd was still on their feet, cheering and clapping, Ringo waved to the audience and left the stage. “Don’t worry. He’ll be back,” Edgar Winter playfully reassured the crowd. 

Ringo Starr (Vocalist, Drummer)
| Photography:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

With Ringo gone, the band performed Average White Band’s “Cut the Cake,” the title track from their third album. “I’m going to hand it over to Edgar Winter now to unleash the beast,” he said at the song’s closing. Winter’s performance of instrumental classic “Frankenstein” allowed the band to have fun on what turned out to be a jam session that impressively highlighted the drumming skills of Gregg Bissonette. Throughout the song, which stretched to nearly ten minutes, Bissonette worked in drum breaks that steered the song into a range of hits by other artists, including “Come Together” by The Beatles, “Rock ‘N’ Roll” by Led Zeppelin, and appropriately enough, “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” — the seventeen-minute Iron Butterfly classic in which the recognizable drumming comes during the lengthy instrumental break in the song. By the end of the jam, Bissonette, very deservedly, got one of the biggest pops from the crowd. 

Gregg Bissonette
Gregg Bissonette (Drummer)
| Photography:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

Ringo returned to the stage, and before going into “Octopus’s Garden” (rivaling “Yellow Submarine” for one of the most crowd-pleasing moments of the night), he introduced each member of the band, heaping praise on them as he did. It was followed by his solo hit “Back Off Boogaloo.” Next up was Colin Hay to perform Men at Work’s ode to anxiety “Overkill.”

Colin Hay (Vocalist, Guitarist)
| Photography:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

Every song we’ve played tonight is one you know, but I’d like to debut my 30-minute jazz odyssey,” Steve Lukather joked with the crowd, adding, “If you get really stoned first, you might just get into it,” before launching into “Africa” — Toto’s mega-smash that will live on for generations to come. The performance featured some incredible backing vocals from Colin Hay. 

Ringo Starr (Vocalist, Drummer)
| Photography:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

After going one more round with each performer, including Hamish Stuart with the Isley Brothers’ “Work to Do,” and Ringo playing The Beatles’ “I Wanna Be Your Man.” Edgar Winter took a moment to pay tribute to his brother Johnny Winter before playing “Johnny B. Goode,” a song the brothers used to play together growing up, as they each first learned to play the guitar. It was immediately followed by Colin Hay playing “Who Can It Be Now?” and Steve Lukather on Toto’s  “Hold the Line.”

Hamish Stuart (Vocalist, Bassist) with Colin Hay and Edgar Winter
| Photography:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

The evening closed as it began, with the tour’s namesake Ringo Starr on vocals for his solo classic “Photograph,” the Johnny Russell hit “Act Naturally”, made famous by Buck Owens and even more famous by The Beatles version on Help!, and finally and very fittingly given the vibe of the tour and the mutual respect and camaraderie amongst the performers, they closed the evening “With a Little Help From My Friends.” As the song came to a close, they shifted to a cover of John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance” to send the crowd home happy, still singing along in their own acapella as they exited the Celebrity Theatre and out into the warm Phoenix night.

Ringo Starr
Ringo Starr (Vocalist, Drummer)
| Photography:
Mark Greenawalt © All Rights Reserved

View Setlist

Photo Gallery

Photographer: Mark Greenawalt

Ringo Starr & His All-Star Band – Celebrity Theatre 5-20-23

Photography © Mark Greenawalt.
All Rights Reserved

Matchbox 20 Slow Dream Tour – Coming to Phoenix in May 2023

The excitement is building as Matchbox 20 gears up for their highly anticipated “Slow Dream Tour” set to kick off in May 2023. The American multi-Platinum rock band known for hit songs like “3AM,” “Push,” and “Unwell,” is set to take the stage at the Talking Stick Resort Amphitheater in Phoenix on May 31, 2023. Matchbox 20 is set to release their first new album in over a decade, Where The Light Goes, on May 26.

Matchbox 20 ‘Yourself or Someone Like You’ album art

The “Slow Dream Tour” will begin on May 16th at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, BC and conclude on August 6th at Chicago’s Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre. Fans of the band can expect to hear some of their classic hits along with some new music as they take to the stage with their signature energy. But the excitement doesn’t just stop there, Matchbox 20 has taken great care to ensure that they’re bringing a complete concert experience that their fans won’t soon forget.

Matt Nathanson ‘Boston Accent’ EP art

To help make the tour even more memorable, the band has brought on some incredible supporting acts. Platinum-selling singer-songwriter Matt Nathanson kicks things off for the first half of the tour. Nathanson is no stranger to the spotlight himself, with hits like “Laid”, “Come On Get Higher”, and “Car Crash” under his belt. Fans attending the early shows will no doubt be left in awe of his vocal skills and appreciate his uplifting lyrics in songs like, “Faster” and “Blush”. 

Ben Rector ‘Magic’ album art

As the tour progresses, chart-topping singer-songwriter Ben Rector takes over as the support act. Rector has captured the hearts of many with his catchy tunes like “Brand New” and “The Men Who Drive Me Places,” earning him a devoted following of his own. 

So be sure to mark your calendars for May 31, 2023, and grab your tickets to the Matchbox 20 “Slow Dream Tour”. Trust us, you won’t want to miss out on this unforgettable musical experience! Get your tickets here, and make sure to check out the full list of tour dates to see if the band is headed to a city near you.

Matchbox 20 “Slow Dear Tour” Dates:

  • 5/16 – Vancouver, BC – Rogers Arena*
  • 5/18 – Auburn, WA – White River Amphitheatre*
  • 5/19 – Ridgefield, WA – Sunlight Supply Amphitheater*
  • 5/21 – Concord, CA – Concord Pavilion*
  • 5/22 – Hollywood, CA – Hollywood Bowl*
  • 5/24 – Fresno, CA – Save Mart Center*
  • 5/25 – Bakersfield, CA – Mechanics Bank Arena*
  • 5/27 – Las Vegas, NV – The Chelsea at the Cosmopolitan*
  • 5/28 – Irvine, CA – FivePoint Amphitheatre*
  • 5/30 – San Diego, CA – Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theatre*
  • 5/31 – Phoenix, AZ – Talking Stick Resort Amphitheatre*
  • 6/2 – Sparks, NV – Nugget Event Center*#
  • 6/3 – West Valley City, UT – USANA Amphitheatre*
  • 6/4 – Boise, ID – Ford Idaho Center Amphitheater*
  • 6/6 – Denver, CO – Ball Arena*
  • 6/8 – Omaha, NE – CHI Health Center Omaha*
  • 6/9 – Sioux Falls, SD – Denny Sanford Premier Center*
  • 6/10 – Welch, MN – Treasure Island*#
  • 6/13 – Cuyahoga Falls, OH – Blossom Music Center*
  • 6/14 – Clarkston, MI – Pine Knob Music Center*
  • 6/16 – Cincinnati, OH – Riverbend Music Center*
  • 6/17 – Moline, IL – Vibrant Arena at The Mark*
  • 6/18 – Kansas City, MO – Starlight Theatre*
  • 6/20 – St. Louis, MO – Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre*
  • 6/21 – Oklahoma City, OK – The Zoo*#
  • 6/23 – Rogers, AR – Walmart AMP*
  • 6/27 – Birmingham, AL – Oak Mountain Amphitheatre^
  • 6/29 – Dallas, TX – Dos Equis Pavilion^
  • 6/ 30 – Houston, TX – The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion presented by Huntsman^
  • 7/2 – Atlanta, GA – Lakewood Amphitheatre^
  • 7/3 – Nashville, TN – Bridgestone Arena^
  • 7/ 5 – Jacksonville, FL – Daily’s Place^
  • 7/7 – West Palm Beach, FL – iTHINK Financial Amphitheatre^
  • 7/ 8 – Tampa, FL – MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre at the FL State Fairground^
  • 7/11 – Charlotte, NC – PNC Music Pavilion^
  • 7/ 12 – Raleigh, NC – Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek^
  • 7/14 – Burgettstown, PA – The Pavilion at Star Lake^
  • 7/15 – Holmdel, NJ – PNC Bank Arts Center^
  • 7/16 – Camden, NJ – Freedom Mortgage Pavilion^
  • 7/18 – Wantagh, NY – Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater^
  • 7/19 – Bethlehem, PA – The Wind Creek Event Center^
  • 7/21 – Gilford, NH – Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion^
  • 7/22 – Uncasville, CT – Mohegan Sun Arena^
  • 7/23 – Mansfield, MA – Xfinity Center^
  • 7/26 – Virginia Beach, VA – Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater at Virginia Beach^
  • 7/27 – Bristow, VA – Jiffy Lube Live^
  • 7/29 – Syracuse, NY – St. Joseph’s Health Amphitheater at Lakeview^
  • 7/30 – Saratoga Springs, NY – Saratoga Performing Arts Center^
  • 8/1 – Darien Center, NY – Darien Lake Amphitheater^
  • 8/ 2 – Toronto, ON – Budweiser Stage^
  • 8/ 4 – Toledo, OH – Toledo Zoo Amphitheater^
  • 8/ 5 – Noblesville, IN – Ruoff Music Center^
  • 8/ 6 – Tinley Park, IL – Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre^

* Matt Nathanson supporting
^ Ben Rector supporting 
~ Hudson Thames supporting 

# Non-Live Nation show, visit matchboxtwenty.com for ticketing links 

REVIEW: Phantom Planet & AVIV – Warmly Welcomed Musical Guests Whet Appetites for ZONA Music Festival (12-2-22)

PHOENIX – In a city where history seems to be but a suggestion, where a shrinking number of hundred year old buildings sit in the shadow of cranes that throw tons of steel and glass into the arid desert air, hoping that unsuspecting outsiders fall in love with the 3 days of reasonable weather per year – which seems to work at an alarming rate – one can still find the echoes of the past, if you look hard enough. One of these echoes is a building on the corner of Monroe and Central Ave, where one door will lead to a dizzying amount of Cornish pasties, another will lead to a jewelry shop where you will be greeted by a 102 year old man who walked through those doors 68 years ago and hasn’t left yet, and yet another leads down a flight of stairs.

Down these stairs, you will find the destination for this evening: a music hall and bar that is collectively and aptly named Valley Bar. At the foot of the stairs, you can turn to the left and find the Rose room, named after the first female governor of Arizona, Rose Mofford, or go straight ahead and enter the music hall. Within the music hall, fans of Phantom Planet and AVIV gathered to witness a new piece of history: one of the seven different ZONA night events, put on as part of the brand new ZONA Music Festival. Both bands would make an appearance the next day at the festival, which they both noted, asking the fans to come join them the next day during their sets.

AVIV

AVIV performing at Valley Bar 12-2-22
AVIV (Vocalist) with her live band
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

After a quick greeting, AVIV jumped into her set, immediately commanding attention. While she is not very well known in the US, the 16 year old has quite the impressive resume: She opened for Imagine Dragons during their tour through Canada at age 15, has appeared on TV as an actress (including a scene in American Gothic where she fires a crossbow at one of the main characters) and she toured with the Mini Pop Kids – a band well-known in Canada. To say she is an up and coming solo musician appears to be quite the understatement. 

AVIV performing at Valley Bar 12-2-22
AVIV (Vocalist)
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

AVIV also recently released her first EP: an 8 song record titled Drowning in the Culture. Between her stage presence, vocals, and rather on-the-nose and relatable lyrics, she shows flashes of Billie Eilish while also charting her own course. After the first song, she thanked the crowd, and then told them, “I love it here! The last time I was in Arizona, I was 5 years old, so a little while ago, but I just remember for the next decade I talked about how it was the most extraordinary trip of my life.” She spoke about the beauty of the state – an opinion that perhaps changed after rain fell for almost 24 hours straight on the festival that followed over the weekend, turning it into a muddy pit of pure fun.

AVIV performing at Valley Bar 12-2-22
AVIV (Vocalist)
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

Afterward, she played “Girl in Red,” the song that garnered the attention of those in the music world, leading to her signing with a label. A few songs later, she stopped to discuss the songwriting process of “Sleep it Off.” She explained that the song was written in LA about a time in her life when she was “about 8 or 9,” when someone in her community passed away. The song was based on the reply her mother gave her, which was to “sleep it off.” As she began to explain the process, she wavered a bit as a man in the crowd decided to bless the entire room with his loud, one-way conversation with his apparent date, who did not seem overly impressed with his uninterrupted desire to talk. Fortunately, AVIV is quite the pro, and moved on quickly – hopefully this guy’s date followed suit.

AVIV performing at Valley Bar 12-2-22
AVIV (Vocalist)
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

AVIV moved around the stage with grace, dancing as she sang, moving to a keyboard, shining flashes of a superstar in the making. It is likely that those in attendance that night will look back and remember the time that they were fortunate enough to see a superstar in such an intimate setting. Before leaving, AVIV mentioned the ZONA festival, stating that she would be “on the stage under the bridge.” This was the Eddy stage (all four stages were named after local musicians) and it appeared to be the driest stage in the festival, while also being the smallest.

AVIV performing at Valley Bar 12-2-22
AVIV (Vocalist)
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

ZONA was held less than a mile from Valley Bar, in a park that was only made possible by another piece of Arizona, and, really, national history: On August 10th, 1990, on a brutally hot summer day, the final piece of the I-10 – a 2,500 mile highway stretching from coast to coast – opened up. This piece was the Deck Park Tunnel, a tunnel that isn’t actually a tunnel; it is instead 19 bridges side by side. On top of this not-a-tunnel sits Margaret T. Hance Park, named after the first female mayor of Phoenix. Who better to open this park than the first female governor of Arizona, the aforementioned Rose Mofford? Sadly, Hance passed away just a few short months before the park bearing her name opened, but her name and legacy will live on.

Phantom Planet

Phantom Planet performing at Valley Bar 12-2-22
Phantom Planet
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

With the music hall now nearly full, Phantom Planet took the stage. Formed in 1994, the band chose their name from a movie that gained second life when Mystery Science Theater 3000 chose to use it in the 9th season of the show. They have taken two hiatuses over the years: The first lasting from 2008 to 2011, and the second was 2013 to 2019.

Alex Greenwald (Vocalist, Guitarist), Phantom Planet
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

In between those breaks, they have done just about everything a band could hope to do: put out 5 albums,Alex appeared on two TV shows and a movie, and their song “California” became the theme song for The O.C.

Andrew Parker (Drummer), Phantom Planet
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

In between all of that, they have had numerous songs show up in movies and TV shows, and have also toured extensively with a rather eclectic mix of bands, including Guns N Roses, Blink-182, and Panic! At the Disco. They have appeared on enormous stages, yet seem to remember the smaller ones more. They even mentioned the time they played in a smaller stage in Arizona, and while they couldn’t agree exactly where it was, however the general consensus was that it was at the Mason Jar, now the Rebel Lounge. 

Darren Robinson (Guitarist) & Alex Greenwald (Vocalist, Guitarist), Phantom Planet
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

While they have the pedigree of major bands, they also are one of the more relaxed and tight-knit groups out there, and seeing them in a small space was quite the treat. As the evening progressed, the band joked with each other and the fans, at one point noting that a cable came unplugged during their song, which led to the joke, “Why do we always talk after this song? It’s supposed to be the next one!” 

Chris Lorentz (Bassist), Phantom Planet
| Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved

The night was rife with technical interruptions and quick thinking and fixes by the band. At one point, lead singer Alex Greenwald broke his guitar string, and a discussion onstage about how to handle it was rather amusing and charming. Lead guitarist Darren Robinson grabbed the guitar from Greenwald, handing Greenwald his guitar, and giving bassist Sam Farrar and drummer Jeff Conrad a break as Greenwald decided to move “California” from the encore to the middle of the set. Greenwald played solo, singing along, while Robinson quickly changed the string, tuned the guitar to the best of his ability, and handed it back to Greenwald upon completion of the song. More lighthearted banter would follow from the band, between each other and the fans who could not get enough. 

Phantom Planet performing at Valley Bar 12-2-22
Alex Greenwald (Vocalist, Guitarist), Phantom Planet
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © All Rights Reserved
Phantom Planet Valley Bar setlist
Phantom Planet setlist – Valley Bar 12-2-22

The set – which lasted about an hour and 15 minutes – saw the band squeeze in an incredible 13 planned songs and two requests from the crowd at the end. At the height of the performance, the frontman entered the crowd and allowed fans to swarm around him as they thrust smartphones forward, recording video inches from his face. As the night drew to a close, he reminded the audience that Phantom Planet would be playing the next day at the ZONA fest on the Ronstadt stage – a day that might’ve had fans of the band singing “One Ray of Sunlight”. While the crowd cheered with great enthusiasm, the band members radiated smiles as they left the stage.

Phantom Planet Valley Bar setlist
Phantom Planet setlist – Valley Bar 12-2-22

This night was a confluence of history: The forming of a new festival, the gathering in a building where history oozes from the walls themselves, and the memories made during the time the two immensely talented bands were on the stage. While it remains to be seen if 2023 will bring another ZONA Music Festival, the hope and plan is that it will. When it happens, one would be amiss to hesitate in purchasing tickets to see history made once again.

Photo Galleries

Photographer: Katherine Amy Vega

View Separately:
Shaggy | TLC | En Vogue | Sean Kingston | Nyce Hitz

Phantom Planet | AVIV

Phantom Planet & AVIV – Valley Bar 12-2-22

REVIEW: Sad Night Dynamite Brings a Unique Spin on Trip Hop to Valley Bar (11-13-22)

PHOENIX — England’s Sad Night Dynamite has had two full length albums, both dropping in the last two years, but based on the fevered crowd reaction to their Sunday night concert at Valley Bar, with support from The Color 8, you might believe they are a group whose rabid cult-following stretches across decades and multiple albums. Valley Bar was the perfect venue for the show, as its location around the back of a building, and down an old staircase into the basement of the building felt like a secret show that only the coolest people know about. It’s a vibe that Sad Night Dynamite’s set kept going, in a set heavy with crowd interaction

The Color 8

The Color 8 - Valley Bar
The Color 8
| Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

Phoenix’s The Color 8, for those unfamiliar, are a band that defies all expectations their first appearance may give an audience. From the first note of their opener “Galaxy,” one might expect a set of modern-day jazz-funk fusion, like The Meters’ Cabbage Alley album was pulled through a time warp and reimagined for a new generation. That on its own would have been incredible enough, but this is where The Color 8 swerves instead of staying any particular course. 

The Color 8 - Valley Bar
The Color 8
| Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

“Is it alright if we switch things up a little bit?” asked guitar player Kal (stage name Kal The Guitar Hero). With that, Kal and bassist Jeremiah Smith laid into a heavy (with emphasis on heavy) metal riff for the song “Whoa,” joined by drummer Wisco 3’s heavy beats. His jazzy tempo from “Galaxy” gave way to a drumming so intense it sounded like he was hitting the drums with cinder blocks instead of sticks. Ashton Vaughn Charles, who was playing the saxophone just a song before, let loose with vocals that felt like a cross between the metal of System of the Down’s Serj Tankian with a splash of the hardcore punk of HR from Bad Brains. It was gloriously intense. 

Ashton Vaughn Charles (Saxophonist, Vocalist), The Color 8
Ashton Vaughn Charles (Saxophonist, Vocalist), The Color 8
Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

They followed up jazz-funk fusion and metal with the post-reggae island track “Know the Plan.” They invited the audience to join in with each track and be a part of the experience (the band are veterans of First Friday Art Walk, where they were routinely joined by a bevy of different musicians which has lent itself well to their eclectic style). The new song “No Sleep” was a set highlight, featuring some gorgeous harmonies in the shared vocals from Wisco 3 and Jeremiah. Following the metal track “Run It Back,” with more audience participation throughout the song, Kal joked to the audience “We’re a bit bipolar ‘cause we go up and down,” before they launched into the R&B-soul groove of “X.” They closed out their set with “Savage Season.” 

Sad Night Dynamite

Sad Night Dynamite - Valley Bar
Sad Night Dynamite
| Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

Playing their first show in Phoenix, Sad Night Dynamite from Somerset, England immediately proved to have built a strong fanbase in The Valley of the Sun. With the house lights down, the duo of best friends Josh Greacen and Archie Blagden joined their band to the appropriately named track “Intro.” As soon as they launched into “Demon” from this year’s album Volume II, the audience collectively lost their minds. As the two traded off vocals and weaved back and forth around the stage, they were musical puppet masters, moving the crowd this way and that at even the slightest of directions. During the song and throughout the night, Greacen rapped through a megaphone into his microphone, which is never not cool. 

Sad Night Dynamite - Valley Bar
Josh Greacen (Vocalist, Guitarist), Sad Night Dynamite
| Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

For “Black & White,” Greacen played guitar while Blagden went into the crowd (shout out to the member of SND’s crew who stood on stage holding the mic chord high up, so that he could stand in the crowd without the mob of fans around him inadvertently unplugging the mic).  Following “Icy Violence” from their self-titled debut, it was Greacen’s turn to go into the crowd for “Smoke Hole.” As he waded out into the middle, he prompted the crowd with “Alright Phoenix, I want you to break my bones! On my count: 1, 2, 3… 4!” As Blagden and the band launched into the song, the crowd launched into Greacen, seemingly trying to follow through on his request, bouncing him around the circle pit like a pinball. Returning to the stage a little beat up, he jokingly opined “That’s more like a 10, Phoenix… I think I broke some ribs!” 

Archie Blagden (Vocalist), Sad Night Dynamite
| Photography:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

“We’re from this sad little island called England,” Greacen told the crowd after recovering from his circle pit beating. “Do you know what’s good about England?… Sad Night Dynamite,” Blagden responded, with the crowd roaring in approval. Excluding The Beatles, Bowie, and Monty Python, Sad Night Dynamite certainly made a compelling case throughout the night. 

The duo changed the mood with the beautiful, atmospheric “Tramp” from Volume II, with Greacen on keyboards. Their 13-song set featured seven of the nine songs from their debut Sad Night Dynamite, and four of the seven songs from their new album. They closed out their set with the chill dance groove of their new song “What Does That Make Me?” and “Krunk”. Sad Night Dynamite traveled approximately 5,186 miles to play their first show in Phoenix, and for this crowd, they truly brought the best thing in England to the Valley Bar.

Photo Galleries

Photographer: Rodrigo Izquierdo

Sad Night Dynamite & The Color 8 – Valley Bar 11-13-22

Photography © Reagle Photography
All Rights Reserved

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

Companion performing live at Orpheum Theatre
Companion
| 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

Encore:

  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: 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)
Photography:
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. 

Pluralone

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
Photography:
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
Photography:
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
Pluralone
Photography:
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
Photography:
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
Photography:
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
Photography:
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
Photography:
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
Photography:
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
Photography:
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 www.BurningHotEvents.com

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
Photography:
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

Encore:

  • 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