Ed Sheeran - Jobing.com Arena - 8/31/2014

Categories: Last Weekend

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Jeremy Berini
Ed Sheeran

When the lights went down, the screams inside Jobing.com Arena were ear-shattering. It wasn't quite the level of Beatlemania, but it still caught me by surprise. Arena shows are known to be big with its lights, sounds, stage setup, etc. Sheeran entered the stage with just his guitar, and it became clear that this wasn't going to be an overly-produced show.

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Tony Bennett Wows 'Em With Charm, Style, and Standards at Mesa Arts Center

Categories: Last Weekend

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All photos by Melina Dellamarggio
Tony Bennett at Ikeda Theatre in Mesa. Full slideshow here.

Has Tony Bennett ever played a bad show? It would be hard to find anyone who attended such a mediocre performance in the 50-plus years the man has been recording, let alone have it documented in print. Truthfully, it doesn't seem possible.

The 88-year-old legend came out dressed to the nines in a cream-colored jacket and a smile that never left his face. The joy and optimism he exuded was immediately contagious to the sold-out crowd inside Ikeda Theatre at Mesa Arts Center and was introduced by none other than his friend from across the Hudson River, Frank Sinatra.

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Justin Timberlake - Jobing.com Arena - 8/9/2014

Categories: Last Weekend

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Jim Louvau
Justin Timberlake was all business at Jobing.com Arena last Friday. Full slideshow here.

There is a difference between a "rock star" and a "superstar," and Justin Timberlake is a superstar. He'd been a rock star since his years with 'N Sync touring the world and selling millions of albums. But now, in his early 30s, with decades experience performing his own catalog of self-written hit songs, and the swagger that goes along with all that, he is quite obviously in his prime.

The second stop of his 20/20 Experience World Tour went through Glendale's Jobing.com Arena on Saturday night, and he demonstrated what a superstar in their prime is capable of by putting on two-hour musical spectacular complete with choreographed dance numbers, lasers, and a 15-piece band, The Tennessee Kids. He also showed that being a superstar in 2014 is hard work.

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Slash - Talking Stick Resort - 8/1/2014

Categories: Last Weekend

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Jim Louvau
Slash at Talking Stick Resort. Full slideshow here.

Former Guns N' Roses/Velvet Revolver axeman Slash brought plenty of nostalgia to Talking Stick Resort Friday night, visiting the Valley for a one-off date in the middle of his North American Tour with Aerosmith. The 49-year-old still looks almost identical to how he looked in the '80s, still sporting his signature top hat and Gold Burst Gibson Les Paul. Another thing that hasn't changed is his history of having some of the best rock singers fronting his band, and Myles Kennedy is no exception, which was unquestionable from the opening lines of opener "You're a Lie."

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Tori Amos - Ikeda Theatre at Mesa Arts Center - 7/25/2014

Categories: Last Weekend

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Melissa Fossum
Tori Amos

Tori Amos, wearing leather pants underneath a long flowing dress, straddled herself on the piano bench in a position that would seem uncomfortable to anyone who played the 88 keys on a regular basis. She played "Parasol" from the 2005 album The Beekeeper with her right hand on a keyboard and her left on a grand piano, gyrating like a metronome.

Everyone in the intimate Ikeda Theater at Mesa Arts Center knew that they weren't seeing a typical singer-songwriter like Carole King. The red-haired, porcelain-skinned beauty, wearing horn-rimmed glasses like a alluring church organist, was going to sing of sex, fantasy, and religion in way that is personal and confrontational.


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The Last Concert at a Storied Phoenix Underground Venue Canned by Cops, 7/26/14

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Stressors' lead singer.

Well, it was bound to happen anyway. As one Facebook commenter put it, "They were responding to a call they got in the goddamn '90s." I'm talking about W___ S____, a South Phoenix storage unit turned underground show space that's been hosting shows for nearly two decades -- and was finally broken up by the police on its final night.

Maybe we can mention the venue name anyway, since it's not really much of a secret at this point (thanks, Google) and of course, the cops are keen now. But I'd rather not, just because this "venue" tends to get passed down like a DIY-scene heirloom, and I respect the few shreds of anonymity we're allowed in this post-Snowden era. Saturday night was supposed to be the venue's final night, unless someone else took it over. When I asked one of the organizers what was next, that person shrugged, saying, "No one knows yet."


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Sara Robinson and the Midnight Special - Crescent Ballroom - 7/18/2014

Categories: Last Weekend

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Jim Louvau
Sara Robinson and the Midnight Special, in front of strong local support, played the Crescent Ballroom Friday night. Full slideshow here.

On July 13, Sara Robinson and the Midnight Special announced through their Facebook page that they would be splitting with their original lead guitarist and chief songwriter Brandon Croft. Furthermore, the band announced that following their headlining date at Crescent Ballroom last Friday the band would be taking a hiatus for an undetermined amount of time.

"We would like to get our ducks in a row and come back with a bigger and better SR&MS," read the post. Quite frankly, I have to agree with that decision. Some time off could be exactly what Robinson and the Midnight Special needs to rekindle the passion that propelled them to local stardom so quickly.

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Jurassic 5 - Marquee Theatre - 7/19/2014

Categories: Last Weekend

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Melissa Fossum
Jurassic 5

If having a packed house from start to finish is the benchmark for a great show, then Dilated Peoples and Jurassic 5 had a great one July 19. The Marquee Theatre was full of hip-hop heads throughout the evening, from M.C. Supernatural's opening freestyles all the way through J5's encore.

Many notable Phoenix hip-hop acts and promoters were present, too -- Dumper Foo of Drunken Immortals, Bronze Candidate and Liaison of Shining Soul, and M.C. Optimal were in attendance, among others.

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Mötley Crüe, Alice Cooper - Ak-Chin Pavilion - 7/19/2014

Categories: Last Weekend

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Maria Vassett
Mötley Crüe's final show in Phoenix. Full slideshow here.

'80's hair metal kings Mötley Crüe held very little back in the production department when their supposed final tour made its stop at Ak-Chin Pavilion on Saturday night to a sold out crowd. While there were enough pyro, flamethrowers, female dancers, and a lighting spectacle that would make a Nelson show exciting, the real question was would it be enough to distract fans from Crüe singer Vince Neil's often lackluster vocal chops or would he rise to the occasion. Luckily if the band tanked like it did on the opening night of the tour a couple weeks ago, opener and Valley legend Alice Cooper would save the day.

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Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival - Ak-Chin Pavilion - 7/11/2014

Categories: Last Weekend

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Jim Louvau
Avenged Sevenfold was one of many bands at the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival. Full slideshow here.

It was a night of active rock radio hits, pyro, and more of what we've come to know from the best traveling hard rock music festival out there, as the 7th annual Rockstar Mayhem Festival made its way through Ak-Chin Pavilion on Friday. Nu metal pioneers Korn and Avenged Sevenfold co-healined the main stage with up-and-comers Asking Alexandria and Trivium.

While fans were still trickling in during Trivium's short opening set with temperatures scorching well above 100 degrees in the pavilion, the band blasted through a quick seven-song, 35-minute opening set. English metalcore act Asking Alexandria followed, to the delight of their younger fan base, which showed up early enough to catch their set while the older guys stood in the back.


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