Dave Mason's Traffic Jam - Talking Stick Resort - 4/19/2014

Categories: Last Night

Glenn BurnSilver
Dave Mason could have been better.

Dave Mason was disappointing.

That's the bottom line, though many in the audience would say otherwise -- particularly during the "Dave set," which would be telling enough in itself. Billed as
Dave Mason's Traffic Jam, the idea of Mason playing Traffic tunes -- the band he was a founding
member of, leaving in 1969 before the band's real heyday -- seems like a ploy simply to get people into the seats he couldn't fill as a solo artist. Hard to say for sure, again given the applause to the solo material, but in any event the Traffic material was unfulfilling on many levels.

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Lorde - Comerica Theatre - 4/17/2014

Categories: Last Night

Melissa Fossum
Lorde played Comerica Theatre on April 17.

"I'm terrified of being an adult," Lorde told a packed house toward the end of her concert Thursday night at Comerica Theatre.

Given the way the 17-year-old songstress' debut album, Pure Heroine, dominated the latter half of 2013, and given her lyrics -- coolly defiant celebrations of suburbia, rejections of pop culture excesses -- you can see why the dominant narrative (and by that I mean a 17-year-old wary of the spotlight her expert songwriting propelled her into) surrounding her is so pervasive. Her biggest hit, "Royals," an inescapable song of the summer, contains lyrics famously derisive of the wealthy lifestyle music stars love to brag about -- "I've never seen a diamond in the flesh," "We'll never be royals / It don't run in our blood." In the same song, she offers an alternative. "Let me be your ruler / You can call me Queen Bee."

Find our slideshow of the Lorde show here.

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Lana Del Rey - Comerica Theatre - 4/15/2014

Categories: Last Night


Thousands of fans packed a sold-out Comerica Theatre in downtown Phoenix Tuesday night to catch a rare performance from singer Elizabeth Grant, a.k.a. Lana Del Rey, in between her Coachella stops. With no opening act, Del Rey hit the stage around 8:30, with opener "Cola."

Sporting jean shorts, U.S. Postal Service T-shirt and belt, Grant looked a little more comfortable in Del Rey's skin and less like "a groupie posing as a real singer" during the sexy "Gods & Monsters." Her voice was on point, and she was able change from her upper and lower vocal register with ease while constantly smiling at fans. The ballad "Blue Jeans" was simply beautiful as she sang, "I will love you 'til the end of time / I would wait a million years, Promise you'll remember that your mine / Baby, can you see through the tears."

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Foster the People - Marquee Theatre - 4/15/14

Categories: Last Night

K.C. Libman

Foster the People
Marquee Theatre

It's official: Foster the People is now, well, for the people. Gone are the days of the band's crowds being elitist and hip, and now we enter the age when 40-somethings know more words to Foster the People songs than you do. This is great news for the Los Angeles-based group, which has risen to elevated status in just a few short years. The group's popularity could be measured in its selling out the Marquee Theatre on Tuesday night. Supported by the art and music collective Young & Sick -- whose single "Glass" may be one of the most fun songs I've heard this year -- it was an evening of straight-ahead pop that anyone could shamelessly enjoy.

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Bombay Bicycle Club - Crescent Ballroom - 4/14/2014

Categories: Last Night

Jason Keil
Bombay Bicycle Club played the Crescent Ball on April 14.

As Bombay Bicycle Club singer Jack Steadman walked up to the microphone in the middle of the band's show, he lifted his hands above his head. The sound of a church organ filled the crowded Crescent Ballroom as his bandmates slowly worked toward the finale of the title track of the band's latest album, So Long, See You Tomorrow. Steadman, with his shirt buttoned all the way up to his neck and his hair over his eyes, resembled a traveling faith healer, stopping this time to prey on the goodwill of Phoenix hipsters. He knew he had everyone's attention.

Problem is, Steadman was preaching to the converted. For a band that played Coachella a few days earlier, there didn't seem to be any shortage of energy on stage. On paper, the band's eclectic discography, which ranges from punk to indie to acoustic folk, implies that this group of 20-something musicians has something to prove. But when they took the stage, they were just a group of mates just having fun. They switched from Bollywood to blues on a dime, and their strategy kept the audience guessing from one song to the next.

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Jason Aldean, Colt Ford, Joe Diffie, and Tyler Farr - Country Thunder - 4/13/14

Andrew Pielage
The main stage at Country Thunder 2014 over the weekend.

Joe Diffie, Tyler Farr, Colt Ford, Jason Aldean
Country Thunder 2014

As Country Thunder closes out, the tried and true aficionados remain: They're the groups who've done this before, who have more alcoholic stamina than all your friends combined, who will wake up at 5 a.m. on Monday morning to decamp and head home.
Everyone is slightly more subdued, a little windburned and exhausted, leaving only the diehards to stick it out to the very end.

You'd be right in assuming a lot of the remaining attendees are college kids, as there was a steady stream of families with their trailers and RVs leaving the campground all day long. With just the younger audiences around, earlier acts like Gordon Bamford and Joe Diffie seemed to get a bit of the shaft, but both, especially the latter, still know how to put on one hell of a show.

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Bombino -- Musical Instrument Museum -- 4/12/2014

Categories: Last Night

Glenn BurnSilver
Bombino, playing the Musical Instrument Museum on April 12

Omar "Bombino" Moctar is a Tuareg nomad from Agadez, Niger, and while his music is rooted in the deepest traditions of desert life, Bombino is also deeply indebted to the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton -- maybe even Jerry Garcia.

I went to the Musical Instrument Museum to see a this songwriter and immerse myself in his melodic, polyrhythm playing style I have come to know from other Tuareg musicians that is as deeply moving as it is hypnotic. A rock concert broke out instead. Not that I'm complaining -- and not that it wasn't entirely unexpected given that the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach played on and produced Bombino's current release, Nomad.

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Mark Chesnutt, Craig Morgan, Miranda Lambert - Country Thunder - 4/12/14

Andrew Pielage
Craig Morgan performs at Country Thunder.

Mark Chesnutt, Craig Morgan, Miranda Lambert
Country Thunder 2014

By day three of Country Thunder, most attendees are in one of two states: You're either cripplingly hungover and sunburnt, acting as brothers in spirit with those souls at Coachella, or you've been saving yourself for the biggest two days of the festival so far. With headliner Miranda Lambert and main stage acts Mark Chesnutt and Craig Morgan, Saturday proved to be the biggest and best day yet with some 26,000 attendees throughout the day. Like any other year at the festival, there's a lot of tan skin, catcalling and Bud Light. From the furthest reaches of the campgrounds -- I should know, I seemed to walk them all over the course of the day -- to the main stage itself, day three also seemed to have everyone in good spirits. Country music just has an ability to take most cares away, as evidenced by this year's revelers.

See also: Country Thunder 2014 coverage as well as our slideshow of the best people at Country Thunder 2014.

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The Band Perry, Easton Corbin - Country Thunder - 4/11/14

Photos by Benjamin Leatherman
The Band Perry takes to the stage on Friday, April 11, at Country Thunder 2014 in Florence.

The Band Perry, Easton Corbin, & more
Country Thunder 2014

Country music fans in Florence were surely pleased with the way their weekend kicked off last night. Friday marked day two of this year's annual Country Thunder festival, and the night's lineup featured up-and-comers Mary Hoffman and Cassadee Pope, along with seasoned musicians Sawyer Brown and chart toppers Easton Corbin and the Band Perry.

When I arrived at Country Thunder, there were campers set up in every direction and thousands of people wandering the festival grounds, browsing vendor booths like Stetson and Jack Daniel's. Finding my first beer was an unforgiving and daunting task in the high afternoon heat, but after going through all the avenues for alcohol, I could settle in.

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Broken Bells - Marquee Theatre - 4/10/2014

Categories: Last Night

James Minchin
At a April 10 show at the Marquee Theatre in Tempe, Broken Bells showed they were interested in more than just music.

Broken Bells
Marquee Theater

There's a line from the LCD Soundsystem song "Drunk Girls" that resonated through Broken Bells' show last night at the Marquee Theatre: "Drunk Girls know that love is an astronaut / It comes back but it's never the same." It was clear that the duo, consisting of The Shins' frontman James Mercer and producer Brian "Danger Mouse" Burton, were, in a way, telling the story of that forlorn astronaut in the song, a man haunted by the memories of lost love.

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