PHOENIX – Dorothy took the stage at the Crescent Ballroom last Sunday night, infusing the summer air with earthy incense and the vibes of psychedelic hard rock. The band, originally from Los Angeles, is currently on their “Freedom Tour 2018,” promoting their second album, 28 Days in the Valley. Dorothy is named after front woman and vocal powerhouse Dorothy Martin. Her vocal style can be compared closest to Grace Slick, but her energetic stage presence can be compared to Janis Joplin.
When Dorothy took the stage, all that could be seen was their faintly lit silhouettes. In the dark, with her back to the audience, Martin lit a huge incense stick to fill the ballroom with its sweet aroma. She held on to it, waiving the incense over the stage as the flame grew and the band started the intro to the song “White Butterfly.” The band was then illuminated by the stage lights.
Martin was decked out in black lace bell bottoms and a burgundy, burnout velvet, kimono jacket; she had a mat placed at the base of her microphone to protect her feet as she performed barefoot. Fans that pointed at the stage kept the band cool, and blew Martin’s hair away from her face, adding to her carefree appearance.
As the band smoothly transitioned into their second song, “Naked Eye,” Martin picked up her tambourine. She played while the incense and fog machines worked overtime, pouring a thick haze around the band, and transporting the audience to what felt like Dorothy’s basement jam session in the 1970s.
During “Ain’t Our Time to Die,” the quiet cymbals mixed with Martin’s vibrato really mirrored Janis Joplin’s vocal style as she exclaimed, “You’ve got to believe baby, it ain’t our time to die!”
Dorothy performed many tracks off their first album, ROCKISDEAD; such as “Raise Hell,” “Down To The Bottom,” and rock anthem “Wicked Ones.” In the middle of performing “Wicked Ones,” Martin left the stage, and guitarists Nick Perri and Leroy Wulfmeier rocked out, taking the audience on an auditory journey down the rabbit hole as the stage lights flashed pink, purple, and blue.
When they played their tenth song of the night, “Who Do You Love?”, Martin dropped to her knees and reached her arms to the ceiling while bellowing the song’s lyrics, “Hey I’m your reason for lying! Hey, I’m your reason for dying! Hey, I’m your reason to live! Who do you love when your love’s a-run dry?”
Dorothy filled their 90-minute set with soulful vocals, gritty guitar playing, and all original songs off both of their full albums. Martin’s easy-going and genuine personality was apparent as she spoke to the crowd like friends. She jokingly said that if she wasn’t out performing, she’d just be at home with her cat watching X-files. At the end of the show she hugged her mic stand while smiling into the crowd, almost as if she were trying to metaphorically hug the audience for showing her band love.
For Dorothy’s final song, everyone left the stage, aside from Martin and Wulfmeier. Wulfmeier, in his Homburg hat and perfect mustache, sidled up to Martin and they performed an acoustic rendition of the love song, “Shelter.” Martin finalized the night by yelling to the crowd, “Go make love to your wife!”
Opening Act: Charming Liars
Charming Liars, a London-based band that relocated to Los Angeles in 2013, opened the set for Dorothy. This is their fifth time performing in Arizona, according to guitarist Karnig Manoukian.
Charming Liars’ set was filled with punchy, punctuated drums and dreamy guitar chords, which was pronounced in “Insomnia,” “Outta My Head,” and “Closer.” Their style leans toward very danceable, club-like rock songs. Vocalist Kiliyan Maguire has strong vocals and the ability to produce an amazing falsetto. His passion and energy got the crowd excited, especially when they played new material such as the song “Time to Start,” which was only the fourth time it has been performed by them, according to Maguire. The Charming Liars website states that the band had been endorsed by Sir Elton John when he featured their songs on his Apple Music “Rocket Hour” radio show.
The phenomenal performances of both bands at Crescent Ballroom that night showcased their original music, thought provoking lyrics, and solidified their potential to rise up to the top. And, if there was one message conveyed through the music that evening, a message we can apply to everyday living, it must be; love fiercely, but take no shit.
Catch both bands on the “Freedom Tour 2018” until August 26.
Scottsdale, Ariz. – The all-female band Vixen brought 80s glam-rock back to BLK Live in Scottsdale, AZ on June 16, 2018. The band, according to the Vixen website, is the only all-female 80s band to reach platinum status and have six #1 videos on MTV. Vixen, which disbanded in the early 90s, reunited in 2014 with three of the original members, and has been performing since.
Vixen performed a selection of hits from their first self-titled album Vixen, released in 1988; their Rev It Up album, released in 1990; and a few covers from other rock legends such as The Beatles, Deep Purple and Humble Pie. Vixen’s lead vocalist, Janet Gardner, gave a strong, high energy performance, opening the show with “Rev It Up” from the band’s 1990 album Rev It Up. During the second song, “How Much Love,” newcomer and lead guitarist, Britt Lightning, shredded an incredible guitar solo. Lightning joined Vixen in 2017, replacing Gina Stile.
Throughout the show, Gardner had amazing stage presence and worked the crowd. She shouted from the stage, “Scottsdale, let’s get a lil’ rowdy!” before she performed “One Night Alone.” Then, as she performed the song “Cryin’”, she came down from the stage and walked through the crowd, high-fiving and greeting fans.
When back on stage, she proposed a contest for a free Vixen t-shirt for the first person to jump into BLK Live’s swimming pool. There were a few people sitting on the edge with their feet in the water, but they weren’t fast enough. A single guy at the front of the stage jumped right in fully clothed, holding his beer above his head. Gardner was a bit disappointed her contest didn’t start a pool party frenzy, but she wasn’t going to let that hold her back. As she started into their fifth song “Cruisin’,” Gardner executed a perfect high-kick into the air.
Drummer Roxy Petrucci kept a beat going as they transitioned from one song to the next, keeping the crowd pumped. Her facial expressions complimented the lyrics for each song, as she twirled her drumsticks on the off-beat. She was at the back of the stage, but she did not fade into the background. During the song, “Love Is A Killer,” Petrucci stood up and performed a perfectly executed chime segment on the symbols for the melancholy rock ballad.
There was one song the crowd waited with anticipation to hear, and it was well worth the wait. After they performed a 90-minute set, the ladies left the stage before returning for their encore number, “Edge of a Broken Heart.” This song was written by Richard Marx and Fee Waybill, and was one of two songs to make it into the Top 40 for Vixen in 1988. To make this hit, and the other songs played, sound true to their original tracks, Vixen had Tyson Leslie, the only male on stage, performing on the keyboard.
When Vixen finished their last number, the crowd was wild with excitement. From the set performed by Vixen, to the opening act, the crowd got what they came for; a night filled with 80s rock and strong female vocals.
Arizona local band Dierdre, fronted by female rocker Dierdre Evans, opened the show with a stellar night of rock n’ roll; performing original songs off their album I’ve Come to Lifeand two cover songs – “Black Dog” by Led Zepplin, and “Down to the Bottom” by Dorothy.
Evans opened the set for Dierdre with the femme fatale track, “Black Widow.” The song featured Evans’ rock-opera vocals, punchy drums played by Dwain Miller, and fast metal riffs played by Michael Arms and Jimmy Caterine on guitars.
Their third song, “Between the Lines,” featured rhythmic guitar and a steady drum beat, which allowed Evans’ voice to carry the songs melody before it entered the gritty chorus. The lyrics entice the listener and ask them, “You know you want it; don’t you?”
Evans’ vocal range stands out and brings distinction to each song. The song “I’ve Come To Life” starts out with her vocals breathless and low, and she sensually raises her vocals until her voice literally ‘comes to life’ when performing the chorus and refrain.
Evans writes all of her own music, and even though she sings the song “Suffer” like a rock and roll angel, it is a badass reminder to whomever inspired this song; she is not taking you back, and will gladly watch you suffer.
Evans mentioned after the show that the band Dierdre has been together for approximately 3 years, and have really enjoyed opening for other bands in the rock genre. Prior to opening for Vixen, Evans said that in just the last six months, Dierdre opened for big-name bands such as Warrant, Quiet Riot, and Candlebox.
Vixen is currently touring, and soon heading overseas to Europe this summer, according to their website. If you need your new Vixen fix, Gardner mentioned the band has a live album being released on July 6th via Rat Pack Records.
PHOENIX — The Melvins concluded the spring portion of their ambitious two-part 2018 tour schedule to promote the April 20th release of their album, Pinkus Abortion Technician, at The Crescent Ballroom on Thursday, May 31. Los Angeles-based rock band All Souls warmed up concertgoers with songs from their newly released self-titled album.
Rockers of all ages flooded the intimate venue to experience the heavy, experimental sounds of one of the most influential and notable grunge/sludge metal bands to pave the way for the likes of Nirvana and Pearl Jam. The drinks flowed and the smell from the food being run from the kitchen to Cocina 10 permeated the venue as All Souls hit the stage.
After a quick introduction, they jumped right into the music with their melodic, guitar-heavy sound that ranges from deep and dark, to grunge, to downright ethereal. All Souls, comprised of Drummer Tony Tornay, (formerly of Fatso Jetson), bassist Meg Castellanos and guitarist/vocalist Antonio Aguilar (both formerly of Totimoshi) as well as guitarist Erik Trammell (formerly of Brothers Collateral) proved that, though they’ve only been together for 3 years, they’ve uncovered a winning combination of musical talent to generate a polished sound worth listening to on repeat. At then end of their set, Trammell thanked the Melvins for a “blissful” five week tour together to which Meg added that it also included a broken foot. This concluded the band’s stint with the Melvins, who take a small break and then tackle another ambitious 5-week tour schedule to include four nights in Canada.
Following All Souls’ performance was the anxiously awaited Melvins who planned to take listeners on a musical trip through their discography that spans 34 years. Their newest creation to add to their collection is Pinkus Abortion Technician, which pays homage to the likes of The Beatles and The James Gang. The album brings bassist Jeff Pinkus from the Butthole Surfers back on a collaboration once again to create a whole new sound along with fellow bassist, Steven Shane McDonald, who joined the band in 2015. The Melvins have toured with two drummers and also with two lead guitars, but having two basses is a first. Being the experimental musicians they are and willing to take a chance, they brought forth a sound rarely experienced. The walls reverberated with what felt like a collective heartbeat, a depth of sound that had audience members moving their heads in unison.
The band came out to experimental pedal and guitar sounds that primed the audience for the journey they were about to embark on for the next few hours.The musical journey began with visceral and gritty “Sesame Street Meat” off their 23rd studio album from 2014, Hold It In, on which bassist Jeff Pinkus collaborated. Drummer Dale Crover was immediately seated and fitted with his over-the-ear mic, while outgoing bassist McDonald dazzled with a series of high kicks. Bassist Jeff Pinkus took stage right, where he remained the majority of the evening deeply engrossed in his music and showing an occasional glimmer when his guitar hit the light just right. Guitarist and lead vocalist Buzz Osborne restlessly moved about the stage as though energy were traveling through him in a higher capacity than he could possibly emit. Next stop was 25 years in the past with “At A Crawl”, followed by a zig zag to “Kicking Machine” from 2008’s Nude With Boots, which brought the crowd to a higher level of excitement when a mosh pit ensued. Next were two covers: David Bowie’s “Saviour Machine” sung by Steve McDonald and Red Kross’ “What They Say” which had all-hands-on-deck vocally.
Buzz Osborne took front and center once again with “Anaconda” off of their 1991 album, Bullhead. Next up, Buzz got into character over dead silence and sauntered up to the mic with a smirk to tell everyone, “Well… well… well, I’ll be moooving down to Floriduh,” to kick off the Butthole Surfers’ “Moving to Florida” with a mix of their new song “Stop Moving to Florida” off Pinkus Abortion Technician.
Other notable mentions are McDonald’s long locks blowing in the wind of the fan off on stage left, his Superman move of pulling his blazer open to show his sparkly “punk rock” written across his chest, and one cannot forget the slower tempo of “Don’t Forget to Breathe” off of the new album, with credits for writing going completely to Pinkus.
The Melvins ended their energy-fueled, seventeen-song setlist by taking fans all the way back to the beginning with “Eye Flys” from their debut album Gluey Porch Treatments. Drummer Dale Crover’s elbows were moving at seemingly lightning speed, reminding everyone why he was worthy of a shout out during Nirvana’s 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction.
As the crescendo of the last notes of the night filled the room, shook the ground, and flooded the ears of each fortunate audience member, Crover stood up and dropped his drumsticks to a crowd of sated fans who uproariously applauded. Drenched with sweat and playing with the same amount of gusto as the first moment they set foot on stage, it was evident that the Melvins have the masterful talent of a band that has been around for 34 years and the ambition to put on a show for their fans like a band that is just up and coming.
PHOENIX— It was a Sunday night that just so happened to be Mother’s Day, but they still came out in droves to see Tech N9ne and his cast of labelmates at The Van Buren in Phoenix. Rapper Aaron Dontez Yates, a.k.a. Tech N9ne, brought his semi-automatic speed rhymes to the house in support of the 2018 release Planet. The album was just released in March and instantly shot to number one on the independent album chart. This was spurred by the charting single and video for “Don’t Nobody Want None”, a solid track with beat boy throwbacks to analog synths lifted from Hashim – Al-Naafiysh (The Soul), scratching, and breakdancing in the video. This concert was a four-hour marathon and it was high energy from eight to midnight… and that’s probably when the after-party was just getting started because they showed no signs of slowing down.
The “Planet Tour 2018” is a family affair with artists on the roster of the Yate’s Strange Music record label including Joey Cool, Mackenzie Nicole, and of course Krizz Kaliko, along with a few friends of the family with King ISO and Just Juice. Phoenix was the 24th stop on this 60-city tour and it was a sold-out show with standing room only.
King ISO and King Kash
The show opened with King ISO and King Kash sporting orange prison jumpsuits, wrist shackles, and sacks over their heads. Then it was 100-mile-per-hour rhymes for twenty minutes culminating in their signature “1s in the air for Mental Health and Suicide awareness”. Showing true fan appreciation, each act took time at the merchandise booth to meet and greet the fans and sign anything from t-shirts to body parts during the break.
Next up was Joey Cool, just signed to Strange Music last October and supporting his debut self-titled album. He and Yates both hail from Kansas City and collaborated on “Life Sentences” from the Special Effects album. Tonight Joey was joined on stage by DJ Tiberias who played the only instrument all night when he picked up the bass for the new single “Under Pressure”.
In the three-hole was Mackenzie Nicole introducing songs from her new album The Edge on Strange Music. Nicole’s set was a refreshing break from the angst and monotonous beats of the opening rap acts and introduced melodic pop music to the crowd. The expectation was that the Tech N9ne crowd would boo a Taylor Swift-inspired artist singing to tracks and syncopated video, but the crowd adored her and she seemed genuinely surprised at the enthusiastic response from Phoenix. She later told Burning Hot Events, “I loved this Phoenix crowd, this was the best show yet!” Although the music seemed a little out of place for this concert, Mackenzie Nicole has a great signature voice and the songs were instantly familiar.
Another break. On the stage are two larger-than-life video screens flashing the winged snake logo of Strange Music. Expectations are high for internet sensation Just Juice, but instead, we are greeted by his unknown MC sidekick. So sure he was a comedian doing his schtick, but he did get the crowd fired up with an overused countdown dance for a crowd yell. Finally, Just Juice appears in a white jacket and his trademark bucket hat. Props to his mic skills and lyrical tirades, but the banter between songs about his doubters and haters in high school got old. He’s young and shows lots of potential, and it was awesome that Tech N9ne gave him the opportunity to be on this tour, but his set was uninspiring. The audience, on the other hand, were on their feet and connecting and gave him a warm Phoenix welcome.
There was ample time to buy t-shirts and swag, down some cold beer, and from the smells in the air there may have been some medical marijuana patients in the audience getting prepared for the main event. The intermission mixtape was filled with favorites that had everyone rapping in place and getting amped.
Eventually, the groundswell culminated as the lights went down and the “Klusterfuk” mixtape heralded the coming of The G. Two 12-foot screens flash with the beat and an 8-foot crystal ball glows purple from within with the blood-red winged serpent logo locking in that brand identity. The video to the right explodes with Yates as ‘The King’ adorned in brown medieval robes in a deserted misty forest. On the left screen, he is ‘The Clown’ and wearing all white and donning the skull cap touting the “A” for anarchy. Fans scream as the crystal ball turns to reveal ‘The G’ dressed in all red except for the white jersey number, and obviously, that number is “9”.
“What the fuck’s up Phoenix!?,” he shouts, “I…am…what? Fresh out of fucks!” It was on. This was what everyone came for. This is really when the SHOW started. One-hundred mile-per-hour chopper style flowing with his hand in the air and each finger typing the lyrics into the sky. The Clown and The King are the on-screen backup singers for The G and this power trio continues to entertain with “Comfortable” and “No Reason (The Mosh Pit Song).”
Just when it seems like we’ve reached the pinnacle of excitement, Krizz Kaliko hits the stage and takes it up another notch, prancing back and forth like a caged panther. The virtual trio becomes a quartet as they launch into “Riotmaker”, “Dysfunctional”, and “Einstein.” The G takes a knee and lets out a primal scream to end the song while explosive smoke cannons erupt. He gets to his feet and shouts, “Happy Mother’s Day, Mom I love ya” and he exits the stage.
Then it was Kaliko’s turn to take center stage to hammer out “Anxiety.” He was also dressed in all red except for his white spider logo on the front of his jacket and a white towel that he waved around like a magic wand. As the song faded, he exited the stage. Eerie music played and a chant began: “long live the clown.” There was an explosion on the left video screen and the clown was gone, replaced by a twerking dancer in lingerie and a medical gown.
Symbolically jumping from the screen, Yates reappears donning the clown mask and the white uniform. We were in Clown Town now and the set includes “Tormented”, “URALYA”, “Straight Out The Gate”, and “Starting To Turn” (note, this one was awesome), “So Dope (They Wanna)”, and then he dedicated the show to his mother and shot into “Blackened the Sun”.
Kaliko was back on stage and did a dope medley of songs that included homages to Hall & Oats “I Can’t Go For That”, to “Rock Me Amadeus”, and host of song snippets that kept everyone entranced. Krizz Kaliko can obviously rap, but his singing voice was even more impressive and he was leaving it all out on the stage. The twerker on the left screen had gone away and The King was replaced on the right screen with another twerker wearing very little medieval garb in front of a throne made of dead wood.
A choir of angels heralded the coming of The King. Yates dressed in his priestly robes and gave a schooling demonstration of speed and enunciation that is unrivaled. This set included “Sriracha”, “He’s A Mental Giant”, “Worldwide Choppers”, and wrapped up with “Speedom (WW2)” that featured Kaliko and Eminem on the Special Effects CD.
The last act of the show was aptly titled “House of Hits” and Yates returned to the stage in all black and admitted that they’d been ‘sippin’ all day and they’d be sippin’ all night.’ The feel of the show transformed from “why so serious” to “let’s get delirious” and all of the opening acts took turns collaborating. King ISO rocked “Bad Juju” and Mackenzie Nicole brought vocal prowess to “One More”. The party was in full swing, both the audience and performers were showing signs of being under the influence, and what better time to break into “Caribou Lou”; the song that inspired the Tech N9ne craft beer “Bou Lou”!
The song selections covered the entire Tech N9ne career, which led us to 2018 and to the song that’s ignited the interest of the newcomer fans, “Don’t Nobody Want None”. He was out of breath as any normal human being would be at the end of a four-hour show, but it wasn’t over yet. There was some drinking on stage and the full cast of characters came out for the finale of “Hood Go Crazy” and the last rites of the 14-second “Stamina” from the Anghellic CD. What an awesome way to end the show as everyone on stage recites the final words, “Tech N9ne”!
One last shout out to this crew for being genuine and for respecting the fans. They had been doing these long nights since the beginning of the tour for the past two weeks, and they still took time at the end of the show to meet and greet everybody at the merchandise booth… not just the elite VIP, but every fan. That’s cool, and it makes them even more appreciated. Phoenix may have been just another stop on Tech N9ne’s tour across the planet, but he showed that he genuinely cared about the fans in this town and that will be remembered for a long time to come.
GLENDALE, AZ – Taylor Swift kicked off her Reputation Stadium Tour in gorgeous Glendale, Arizona. Swift’s sixth studio album Reputation came out late 2017, and she’s worked tirelessly for months to perfect the album’s tour. Fans, or “Swifties” as they like to be called, poured into the University of Phoenix Stadium. They came armed with stuffed snakes, homemade signs declaring their love for Swift, and creative shirts with Swift’s image or impactful lyrics from different songs. Some fans had signs referring to Swift’s “Rep Room” hoping they might get lucky and be selected to meet Swift later that night. Inside the venue, Charli XCX and Camila Cabello warmed up the fans.
Charli XCX sang in a bright bubblegum pink raincoat and pants delighting fans with seven songs, two being cover songs – “I Love It” by Icona Pop, and ending with “Fancy” by Iggy Azalea. Cabello then took the stage, singing nine songs while wearing a white corset with glittery see-through sleeves and black pants with thigh-high slits. Cabello closed her set with her well-known song, “Havana”.
Swift started with a bang. First, “Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts played over the sound system, followed by a video introduction addressing Swift’s reputation. Swift then emerged on stage singing “…Ready For It?”, the first track of her latest album, to the stadium of screaming fans.
Swift spoke to the crowd before the third song saying, “I wish you could see yourselves. You’re beautiful; more than beautiful… What would that be?” fading into the song “Gorgeous”. Swift later said, “I’ve done fourteen shows in Arizona in thirteen years. Not all of them were in arenas like this. Most were in shopping malls, clubs, then opening for other artists. Now I’m doing stadiums like this, breaking the record with 60,000!”
Using state-of-the-art production on three different stages, the center being the largest at 110 feet tall, Swift exceeded expectations for those thousands of fans. Colorful confetti rained down on fans, and another round of confetti was designed as mini newspapers with “Reputation” in bold, and “Taylor Swift” written all over it. There were firework-like flares, amazing choreography with sixteen dancers, and of course no show is complete without pyro.
Creatively, Swift had a tilted stage to go along with her song “Look What You Made Me Do”. This song’s music video gained over 43.2 million views during its first twenty-four hours on YouTube, breaking the record for the most-viewed music video in one day.
Before Swift went into “Delicate” she gave the crowd an uplifting speech, “Wow I missed you guys. Since I was sixteen I’ve lived on a schedule, make an album then go on tour. Over and over, five times in a row. This time I decided to break that record with this last album. I decided I wanted to see who I would be and what my life would be like if I didn’t have a spotlight on me all the time. It was important for me, but I really missed you.” Swift shared some profound thoughts on how brave it is to pursue relationships, knowing that there’s an incredible chance to find mutual love, and also the risk of heartbreak. “It’s just delicate, you know?” As she sang “Delicate”, she was lifted in a sparkly, swirled cage, to her second stage in the back of the stadium.
When she landed, she happily asked the hungry crowd, “What’s going on back here?” She then broke into “Shake It Off” with tourmates Chari XCX and Cabello joining her. Smiling, Swift spoke again, “How is it going on this side of the stadium?” She mentioned following what her fans were saying on social media and trying to put together what they wanted for this tour. She said, “One of my favorite things about you guys in fifteen years is the music industry tells you what they [the fans] want. You can’t sing with that person or make a pop album because your fans are Country and would never understand. And I would say to them, ‘I’m pretty sure I know them better than you do.’ You stuck with me with my musical change. Thank you for that. I still write the same way. I pick up an instrument and the words come.”
After “Blank Space” Swift ran off the stage across the field seating, touching fans’ hands along the way, to her third stage. There she asked fans, “Do you like my dress?” She was greeted with cheers as the song “Dress” began. Swift transitioned to “Bad Blood”, making the entire crowd dance. During each song, the light up bracelets each fan received pulsed with the beat.
Swift had giant blow-up snakes on all three of her stages, a snake-themed mic, and she was lifted from the third stage to return to the main one in a floating snake ribbed cage. Later in the show, Swift explained the reason behind the snake theme, which every Swiftie knew. She explained that someone called her a snake on social media, along with other things. “I went through some really low times because of it. I didn’t know if I’d be able to do this anymore.” she said. “Thank you for taking the time to get to know me. For seeing me as a human being,” she concluded. Swift played a blend of “Long Live” and “New Years Day” on a sleek black piano with the word “Reputation” written in gold.
Swift got everyone on their feet with “We Are Never Getting Back Together,” the lead single from her fourth studio album, Red. That song quickly became a hit and reached the top slot on iTunes’ digital song sales chart just fifty minutes after releasing, earning the “Fastest Selling Single in Digital History” for Guinness World Record.
Swift ended her incredible twenty-song setlist with “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” with a real water fountain on center stage. With beloved songs both old and new, Swift left her “Swifties” screaming and wanting more. Her opening night in Glendale was specular, and even if Swift is an artist who started in Country music and moved toward pop, that only made her a bigger sensation. Swift may even be one of the biggest pop stars in today’s music industry, and she doesn’t care about her reputation anymore. Swift told the crowd goodnight and high-fived her dancers before leaving the stage. The show ended with the words, “And in the death of her reputation, she felt truly alive” on the screens.
PHOENIX — Heavy metal legends Judas Priest drenched Phoenix fans in a fast-paced scintillation of velvety-strobing lights, squealing guitar riffs and the ear-splitting vocal prowess of leather-clad vicar Rob Halford, whose voice could be heard echoing through the streets of downtown outside Comerica Theatre. Priest announced English heavy metal pioneer Saxon and hard rock group Black Star Riders as openers for the U.S. leg of their 2018 “Firepower World Tour” earlier this year. Saxon is renowned for their influence on archetypal acts like Slayer, Metallica and Mötley Crüe and are noted for selling more than 23 million albums worldwide. Black Star Riders was formed in 2012 as “the next step in the evolution” of hard rock band Thin Lizzy. Their third and most recent album, Heavy Fire,reached #6 on the UK album charts in 2017.
In their announcement, Judas Priest also noted that thrash metal icon Megadeth would step in as the supporting act for the European leg of “Firepower”. As if that wasn’t enough, Judas Priest will also be appearing alongside Ozzy Osbourne on his farewell tour later this summer before co-headlining a tour with the infamous Deep Purple later this year.
Judas Priest’s 18th studio album Firepower’s explosive energy has shocked Priest fans, skyrocketing it to success and ranking the album at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 chart — the band’s highest-charting album in the United States to date.
With so much musical history under one roof, there were moments where the night truly felt like a spiritual experience. Black Star Riders took the crowd by storm early-on boasting a youthful stage presence, which positively intermingled with Thin Lizzy’s time-honored style.
After a minimal set-change, Saxon followed quickly thereafter, bringing the house down with a mix of heavy-handed hits and highlights from their latest album Thunderbolt, which was released in February of 2018 under producer Andy Sneap — who also joined Judas Priest on the “Firepower World Tour” to support Glenn Tipton, following Priest’s announcement that Tipton’s unfortunate battle with Parkinson’s had progressed to a level at which he cannot currently tour (Feb. 2018).
Among the audience were obvious diehard fans of all ages, including everything from seriously skilled air-guitarists energetically moving up and down the aisles, to children and families, headbanging all-together beneath an incredible display of vibrant, ever-changing lights which moved in-time to the note of each new song. One little girl, about 4 years old with tiny blonde pigtails, stood atop an empty seat with her father behind her, rocking out with every ounce of movement she had — proving once again that heavy metal music has a timeless quality to it that continues to bring together people of all ages and walks of life, challenging the status quo.
During the night’s first hidden set-change, a curtain displaying an impossible trident waved gently beneath the dimmed lights as red-orange flames swirled in the background. As the opening notes to Priest’s latest title track rumbled out across the crowd, the curtain shot upward to reveal Halford draped in gold from his suit pants to his tassel-adorned jacket. Sneap (Guitarist), Richie Faulkner (Guitarist), Ian Hill (Bassist) and Scott Travis (Percussionist) followed close behind, taking their place on stage among an illusion of pyrotechnic projections which were fitting alongside towering castle-like structures, topped off with a symbolic devil’s tuning fork which mirrored itself across the stage.
Halford then transitioned into tracks “Running Wild”, “Grinder”, “Sinner” and “The Ripper” from albums Killing Machine, British Steel, Sin After Sin and Sad Wings of Destiny before turning attention back on to their latest album for “Lightning Strike” which highlights Firepower’s eclectic mix of classic Judas Priest sound, and something quite a bit different — a savage expansion on Halford’s incredible vocal talent (at 66 years old) also reminiscent of old school Iron Maiden or Motörhead.
Next-up on the night’s setlist were “Bloodstone” (Album: Screaming for Vengeance), “Saints in Hell” (Album: Stained Class), “Turbo Lover” (Album: Turbo) and”Freewheel Burning” (Album: Defenders of the Faith), each of which was signaled by a change in Halford’s eclectic collection of hell-bent-for-leather type jackets, each song rivaled by the energy of the last.
Halford stepped center-stage to address the crowd, “Thank you all for for coming out and keeping your heavy metal faith tonight. And thank you for supporting evilness, evilness… Because evil never dies!”
Fans rejoiced in a sea of chants and fist-bumps, singing along to new crowd favorite, “Evil Never Dies” also off Priest’s latest album, before moving onto unbelievable performances of “Some Heads Are Gonna Roll” and the ever-anticipated “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin”, succeeded by an intermittent recording of “The Hellion”, during which Halford and his bandmates momentarily disappeared backstage. Despite having already put on a thrilling hour-plus performance, Priest emerged once more for a staggering finale.
Seconds after the closing notes of “Electric Eye” (also off of Album: Screaming for Vengeance), Halford shot across the stage on a black-and-chrome chopper while clips from the 1978 track’s music video faded on and offscreen above. Halford passionately belted out the lyrics to“Hell Bent for Leather” from atop the bike, before closing the evening with a powerful performance of “Painkiller”. Halford had one last surprise up his leather-studded sleeve — an earth-shattering encore. Fans were elated to see 70-year-old Tipton take the stage for three ultra-nostalgic and goosebump-worthy renditions of “Metal Gods”, “Breaking the Law”, and “Living After Midnight”.
After completing an astonishing 19-track setlist, it was clear that Halford and his bandmates show no signs of slowing down. Judas Priest proved to their fans once again that even after 40 years, they continue to ignite the fire.
PHOENIX — Amidst their “The Witching Hour” tour, shock rock quintet In This Moment had fans spellbound during a thrilling visually-charged performance at historically-located venue The Van Buren. Openers on the bill included The Word Alive — a metalcore group from Phoenix who’s most recent album Deceiver reached No. 97 on the Billboard 200 (2010), and fellow AZ-based nu metal band Ded, who’s been on the rise since the release of their wildly successful debut track “FMFY” in 2016. Audience members were elated to hear that In This Moment had offered both opening groups the option to extend their setlist for the night, in celebration of the obvious outpouring of support from local fans.
After a vigorous crowd sing-along to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” ferocious frontwoman Maria Brink dawned the stage through a storm of purple-red smoke, spookily cloaked in all-black attire which was somewhat reminiscent of Emperor Palpatine in Star Wars.
As Brink positioned herself center-stage, horror-esque slivers from In This Moment’s music video for title track “Blood” spliced on and off on a large overhanging screen. Current members Chris Howorth (Lead Guitarist & Founding Member), Travis Johnson (Bass Guitarist), Randy Weitzel (Rhythm Guitarist) and Kent Diimmel (Percussionist) followed close behind her — also dressed to shock and impress in true gothic metal fashion.
The group transitioned into a haunting yet brutal performance of “Blood”, which was seamlessly followed by “River of Fire” from In This Moment’s latest album, Ritual (2017). In between these first two songs, Brink seductively shed her dark ceremonial garb for a ghostly white dress that shimmered beneath the spotlights.
With a mix of fire and wind enveloping her silhouette, Brink immediately dominated the stage with her display of unique showmanship and incredible ability to personify her lyrics through purpose-driven theatrics. Her gruff throaty screams and eerily dazzling vocals are a fitting accompaniment for the band’s vehemently aggressive rhythms, sludgy guitar and relentlessly rhapsodic percussion.
Although In This Moment’s 2017 album is in fact less sexualized than albums in previous years, Brink’s outlook on the highly-debated topic remains the same. The singer changed from costume to extraordinary costume throughout the show — reappearing on-stage in everything from skin-tight bodysuits and ritual garb, to Krueger-like talons, a top hat, and faceless creature masks. Backup dancers morphed from demons and witches to twinning alter-egos as the show’s storyline evolved before our eyes, exquisitely interpreting the lines of each song. Brink seduced the crowd with ease, gripping the audience with infectious performances of “Adrenalize”, “Roots” and “Burn”, which preceded a chilling vocal performance of ballad “Lay Your Gun Down.”
After an official band introduction, Brink disappeared from the stage leaving Howorth, Johnson, Weitzel and Diimmel in the spotlight for a savage Metallica tribute beginning with the opening instrumentals to “For Whom The Bell Tolls” and leading into a monster drum solo harnessing the chunky classic rock vibes that we all crave.
Next, Brink stepped center stage once again beneath a large crescent-shaped entryway, which appeared as two halves of a glowing moon, altar-style. The opening scene from “Black Wedding” featuring Rob Halford (of Judas Priest) strobed in and out to church music, teasing the energized duet between Brink and Ded frontman Joe Cotela which was to follow. The night finished strong with blazing performances of fan favorites “Big Bad Wolf”, a cover of Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight”, “Sick Like Me”, and “Oh Lord” — which had fans raging.
However, there was still one song yet to be desired. Audience members roared as Brink stepped out from behind the curtain for one final song — this time wearing the infamous blood-smeared dunce hat as featured in “Whore”, which Brink described to Steppin’ Out Magazine as “an empowering, beautiful song for women.” On-stage, as oversized balloons began bouncing across the crowd, she went on to explain that “Whore” is about reclaiming control of what hurts us and rising above it:
“I was told that I would amount to absolute shit”, she told the crowd. “That I would become nothing at all. So, you see this next song, this last song is about rising above other people’s expectations, all of these ideas about who and what we should be. This song is about taking other people’s hate and turning it into something powerful and liberating within. So tonight, ladies and gentlemen, if I can inspire just that, turning hate into love, then I am proud to say to you Phoenix — tonight, I will be your whore!”
The song’s title “Whore” is actually an acronym created by Brink to further communicate its underlying purpose:
It seems that with their most recent album, Brink and her bandmates have finally perfected the delicate balance between their sultry sex appeal and crust punk approach to the ideals of empowerment and strength embedded in their music. “The Witching Hour” tour is more than an unforgettable performance; it’s a wakeup call. We truly cannot wait for more.
Tempe, AZ – On April 15th, Nightwish enchanted the Marquee Theatre with their music, and also delighted fans with a free two-disc CD of their Decades album featuring an archive of songs from 1996-2015 to celebrate their “DECADES: WORLD TOUR 2018”. For those unaware of Nightwish, they are a symphonic metal band from Finland. The band was formed by keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen, guitarist Emppu Vuorinen, and former lead singer Tarja Turunen in 1996. In 2005, Nightwish said goodbye to Turunen. In 2012, Nightwish had to say goodbye to a second lead singer,Anette Olzon, but former Revamp singer Floor Jansen graciously filled in to finish the North American tour that year. Since then, Jansen became the lead vocalist for Nightwish’s album Endless Forms Most Beautiful and continues to tour with the band.
It was a cool night in Tempe, fans entered the venue and filled the entire floor. Everyone patiently waited for the music to begin. Nightwish greeted the fans with an audio recording, asking fans to go back to simpler times when they would not use phones to take pictures and videos during the show. They wanted everyone to enjoy the moment. Many phones went dark, but some fans couldn’t resist the urge to take a few shots of their favorite band. After that message, a one minute countdown began. As the seconds dropped to single digits, the crowd began to shout as each second decreased. Once it hit zero, the screen changed to gears, and one by one, the members of Nightwish took the stage, greeted by cheers.
Being Nightwish’s “Decades” tour, they picked their greatest hits from all eight of their studio albums. Nightwish didn’t achieve popularity in the United States until their 2004 album Once, and it sold more than one million copies. The biggest hit single from Once, “Wish I Had an Angel”, received MTV airplay and was the second song on their set list that night. As the first chords played, the crowd clapped and screamed. One fan held his hands to his face, in awe of the live performance he beheld. As Jansen sang, the video board had the well-known angel statue from the album cover seen through a gate, as if we were entering a cemetery.
As the first four songs played, fans mouthed the words and jumped to the beat. The video screen went perfectly with each song. For “10th Man Down”, the video soared over gravestones. For “The Kinslayer”, the video showed red candles as crimson light illuminated the band.
Before starting their fifth song, “Gethsemane” from the album Oceanborn, Jansen spoke to the fans, welcoming everyone to the “Decades” tour. She said she spotted some familiar faces in the crowd. The last time Nightwish visited the Marquee was May 2, 2015 for their “Endless Forms Most Beautiful Tour”. Jansen then asked who was seeing them for the first time. Hands all around the venue went up. Jansen smiled and said, “Buckle up. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.”
The band grew quiet for a moment as Jansen addressed the crowd before going into the beloved song “I Want My Tears Back”, from the album Imaginaerum; she said “Tempe is already warm, but let’s make it hot!” During the uilleann pipes solo midway through the song, Jansen urged the crowd to dance and throw their fists in the air. Jansen herself danced on stage and then said, “Tempe! Turn this place into a volcano!” After the song concluded, Jansen spoke again, “It is hard to dance in a volcano. You did a good job though. Thank you!”
It was vocalist and bass/acoustic guitarist Marco Hietala’s turn to address the crowd. He had a smile a mile wide as he asked, “How are you doing?” The crowd cheered and people put up devil horns to show their excitement. Hietala laughed and said again, “I’m not quite sure yet. How are you doing?” The crowd screamed louder. “Sounds like we’re having fun. Ready to rock!” Hietala replied as the song “Devil & the Deep Dark Ocean” from the album Oceanborn filled the air.
“What a night. It’s good to be back,” Jansen said later, “This one’s for the dreamers.” Just then, the instrumental of “Slaying the Dreamer”, from the album Century Child, swelled into the room.
Nightwish had an incredible nineteen-song set, and the fans were full of joy for every single note and lyric. After Nightwish finished their last song for the night, “Ghost Love Score” from the album Once, they left the stage, and in the darkness fans cried out for more. The band members came back to take a final bow and toss some lucky fans guitar picks and drum sticks. Nightwish had done it again — amazed another crowd and filled their hearts with beautiful music.
PHOENIX — Unity, love, and an all-around good time were the three main focuses of the Lost in Translation Tour’s stop in Phoenix. “Don’t ever forget that each and every one of you here has the power to do anything you set your heart on,” said David Boyd, lead singer of New Politics.
New Politics, Dreamers, and The Wrecks put on an sensational sold out show at Crescent Ballroom, with each band bringing the energy of a headliner.
The Wrecks were first in the lineup with an electrifying set. Lead singer Nick Anderson’s unique voice took the crowd to a new level. The energy from the five piece band was reminiscent of early 2000’s pop punk. Their new EP Panic Vertigo, just released last month, showcased the growth of the band. The Wrecks played an unreleased song “Live”, and Anderson said the band only plays it when people in the audience have enough energy to give back. They ended with the upbeat angst filled song “Favorite Liar” which has been played frequently on 93.3 Alt AZ. The Wrecks hinted at wanting to do a headline tour with a stop in Phoenix soon.
Their band name describes their set: dreamy. The three-piece band played fan favorites such as “Painkiller” and “Sweet Disaster”, which have been on rotation on 93.3 Alt AZ as well. With catchy guitar riffs from lead singer and guitarist Nick Wold, strong rhythm from bassist and back-up vocalist Marc Nelson, and striking drums from drummer and back-up vocalist Jacob Lee Wick, the band amped up the crowd.The upbeat set proposed the feeling for New Politics’ upcoming performance. Their song “Bleed Through”, Wold explained, is about people who have jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge and coming back from that ledge; also for any who has fallen.
Inspiring the crowd to raise their hands immediately, the energy exuded by the three piece band from Copenhagen, Denmark, was mind-blowing, to say the least. With Boyd sporting pants that could have been inspired by Beetlejuice, and a John Lennon style hat, his charisma got the crowd rocking.
The trio started their set off with “Istanbul” from their latest record Lost in Translation, which was released last year (2017). Their set consisted of a variety of songs that showed how diverse they are.
“Girl Crush”, “Everywhere I Go (Kings and Queens)”, and “Dignity” were noticeably among the crowd-favorites.
“Tonight You’re Perfect”, “One of Us”, and “Harlem” are among the most well-known songs from the trio.
One of the more intimate songs played during the set was “Color Green”, which Boyd dedicated to his newborn daughter.
Guitarist and lead/backup vocalist Søren Hansen and drummer Louis Vecchio, were highly animated throughout the 20 song set. It was impressive to see the same energy that Boyd offers in Hansen and Vecchio.
Boyd knows how to perform. The lead singer engaged the crowd from all angles, and got intimate with the crowd multiple times by resting his leg in fans’ hands as he sang. It also seemed as if he would sing directly into fans’ phones. ULTIMATE FANGIRL DREAM.
By mentioning unity more than once, it was clear that Boyd places importance on giving fans a unifying experience. He showed his gratitude to the fans at the end of “One Of Us” by making bowing gestures toward them, suggesting that this experience is just as meaningful to him.
“I don’t want this to end”, Boyd exclaimed before the final song. “There’s only one thing we’re gonna have to do, is come back soon, right?”, he continued. “So what we’re gonna do right now, ‘cause endings are so sad, we’re gonna do the opposite. We’re gonna take this energy here, and we’re gonna celebrate that we f***ing did it! Alright? And we’re gonna cherish every memory of tonight, and we’re gonna even make it better, and there will be a surprise…”
The band certainly knows how to end a show with a grand finale, by playing the explosive “Yeah Yeah Yeah”, with Dreamers’ Wold singing the first verse, and The Wrecks’ Anderson coming back to rap during the second verse.
How to end a show: with Hansen crowd surfing as he plays his guitar solo. √ CHECK
PHOENIX — P!nk kicked off her Beautiful Trauma World Tour in an unreal musical experience that rocked the Valley of the Sun. Following the release of her seventh studio album, aptly named Beautiful Trauma, came the announcement that she would hit the road once again to share her exquisite sound with the world. With anticipation of her first album release in five years, it came as no surprise that the Phoenix show was completely sold out. Fans flooded Talking Stick Arena, sporting the artist’s color in everything from bedazzled wigs to homemade jumpsuits. Inside the arena KidCutUp could be heard spinning his usual mashup of hip hop and party songs in order to rouse the crowd before the main act.
From start to finish, P!nk put on a show that left the crowd wanting more, even after a 21-song setlist. Her energy is tangible as soon as she appears before the crowd, launching into the show with one of her biggest hits of all time “Get the Party Started.” What was seen as the curtain dropped at the start of the song could only be described as unbelievable. Breathtaking acrobatics featuring her in a full body sequined jumpsuit paired with incredible dance numbers involving an array of mobile props on stage and back-up dancers. It made for a mind-blowing start to what would be a truly unforgettable set.
Paying ode to her newest album release, P!nk segued straight into “Beautiful Trauma,” serenading the audience with her haunting lyrics before taking them right back in time with old favorites like “Just Like a Pill” and “Who Knew?”
“Hello!”, she shouted into the mic, taking a moment to address the audience, “I can’t believe tonight’s finally here! Just like you guys, I have no idea what’s going to happen!” Her excitement rang through the arena, the frenzied crowd cheering the whole time. That energy remained, with those on stage and those in the crowd, for the entire performance. She played several more songs off of her new album such as “Revenge”, “Barbies”, and “I Am Here”, while also including additional top hits “Try” and “Just Like Fire.” Whether old fan or new, everyone in the arena was able to sing along.
P!nk collaborated with artists such as Eminem and Phoenix’s own Nate Ruess, who both made appearances in creative ways. A video of Ruess was displayed on a screen, while Eminem was made into an enormous inflatable puppet that was guided across the stage by her dancers as P!nk sang along beside it.
One thing that makes P!nk stand out as a performer amongst others is that each song is, in and of itself, like a unique mini concert. From the band to the dancers and backup vocals, there was a passion that could be felt from all of them. Beautiful costumes were accompanied by expert dance sequences and enormous, detailed props were used on and off the stage to help create a multi-level experience. With each new song came a sense of wonder as to what magic would take over the stage next.
Another thing that makes her stand out as an artist is her fierce dedication to being herself and her love for people. Throughout the show, she takes time to shed light on important messages and reminds everyone about things like love and unity, connecting with her fans on a level unlike many other music artists.
As the show neared its end, she amped the energy up to the maximum level and brought the crowd to its feet once again with her smash hits “Raise Your Glass” “Blow Me (One Last Kiss)” and “So What.” She spent a majority of that time soaring far and wide throughout the arena sporting her same sequined jumpsuit. Lights flashed in every direction as confetti shot from mini cannons on stage. Fans watched in wonder as she flipped through the air past all of the sections. “Thank you all, remember to love one another,” she said as she was lowered to the ground for the final time.
Concertgoers left amazed with the show they had just witnessed, although it was clear that they would have stayed all night if they could. P!nk puts on a performance unlike any other artist in today’s music scene, and that is partially due to the immense love she has for her fans and a driving desire to make a difference in the world. She truly is the beauty and strength that resonates in her music, and she uses that as a driving force to give her beloved fans an unforgettable experience.