Queensrÿche at the Orpheum

May 21, 2010 at 12:01 pm | Posted in Burlesque, Concert, Dance, Metal, Rock, Theater/Theatre | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Queensryche Aerialist

Queensryche Cabaret

What do you do when you are a multi-platinum metal band that’s been around since the hair metal days, but you aren’t a hair metal band? If you ask the members of Queensrÿche, I think they would say this: “Diversify and have fun doing it”.

In this case, that means things like start your own wine label a la Geoff Tate, or delve into creating your own craft beer as Michael “Whip” Wilton has done. It also might mean hiring your son-in-law to play guitar in your band, or have your wife, daughter, and some friends join the burlesque frivolities on stage for a limited engagement tour.

Yes, burlesque. That’s what the Queensrÿche Cabaret tour is all about. Adults only fun. Hard hitting rock ‘n’ roll and scantily-clad, but fashionably attired, ladies performing theatrical skits and aerial artistry. Throw in some jugglers and a couple of Vaudevillian performers to fill time between costume changes and you have the makings of a good show.

Not your normal metal show, for sure. No moving lights, no fancy projections, no pyrotechnics, no haze generators or smoke spewing here. Think fancy curtains and color washes. This is old-school entertainment boys and girls. People. Artists. Interacting with one another without a semi-trailer worth of fancy electronics. What a concept.

Of course, the band was as tight as ever. Not many bands can sound “so studio” live as Queensrÿche always manages to do. Hell, at one point Parker Lundgren had to deal with a malfunctioning guitar strap at least four times during one song. He managed well, only missing a couple of notes.

The set list wasn’t your usual ‘Rÿche, for sure. Yes, they played the hits. They played a couple new things obviously written for this new mini rock opera. They also managed to finesse some of those familiar “filler” tracks right into the story line.

Rock operas and concept albums are cool. Time has proven that. Some times you get lucky in life and get a chance to see Roger Waters do “The Wall” live. Sometimes, you get to see ‘Rÿche perform a cool little cabaret show in a beautiful theater from the ’20s complete with fancy red curtains and gold trim. Either way, you are enjoying music as it was meant to be…live and engaging. You should pull out the earbuds more often, and do just that.

Chris Botti Trumpeted Into Dodge

February 10, 2010 at 12:34 am | Posted in Concert, Jazz, Review | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Sound the horns, err…horn…there was a jazz soloist at Dodge Theatre. A trumpet soloist of all things. Yeah, I know – it sounds as crazy as a cello soloist or a guy that plays vibraphone taking center stage for an entire show. Oddly, these things all have something in common. Musicianship.

Chris BottiSoloists like this have come to terms with the fact that these instruments aren’t solo instruments, traditionally. However, if you can establish a rapport with an audience upfront then you can entice them to listen to what you have to say whilst saying it through whatever instrument you choose.

In the case of Chris Botti, that instrument is a trumpet and when Chris plays the audience listens. Then they applaud. Sometimes they yell funny things and Chris speaks back to them. His performance seemed more like sharing music with an audience  than performing it in front of them. That’s jazz for ya.

Chris is a good entertainer. In addition to the great music, he tells back-stories for songs which immediately engages you on a personal level. He also seemed to be a genuinely nice guy. Nice enough that since there were a few open seats right up front he had his crew round up some young musicians that were seated in the back of the venue and escort them to prime viewing and listening area so that they could experience music up close and personal, rather than via the internet. That’s cool. Jazz guys are like that…nice and cool.

Now, I don’t claim to be a jazz aficionado, in fact I don’t even know if jazz listeners like the word aficionado…but this guy is good. His band consisted of Billy Childs (piano), Billy Kilson (drums), Mark Whitfield (guitar), Tim Lefebvre (bass), and Geoffrey Keezer (keyboards). They were all spot on. The guest vocalist Sy Smith, aka @syberspace on twitter, and violinist Caroline Campbell were awesome. The sound man understood the nuances and dynamic range of the band he was dealing with and had the sound dialed in very nicely. The light show was nonexistent, which is par for the course at a jazz show, so no qualms there. However, the follow spot person needs some practice.

Tim Lefebvre, Sy Smith & Geoffrey Keezer

Tim Lefebvre, Sy Smith & Geoffrey Keezer

Aficionado or not, when I get a chance to see a soloist perform, I definitely check it out. No matter what the instrument, you can bet that if someone is backing a nationwide tour that there is probably a good reason. That reason is almost always great music without any frills. You can never go wrong with great music.

U2 Getting Intimate With Glendale Arizona

October 21, 2009 at 4:34 pm | Posted in Concert, Photography, Review, Rock, Social Networking | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Have you ever tried to be intimate? With a stadium full of people? U2 has.

U2 Intimate Superstructure

U2 Intimate Superstructure

What does it take to get intimate with 50,000+ people simultaneously? Well, as far as I can tell…a whole lot of cash. Way more cash than getting intimate with one or two people for sure. I’m talking the kind of cash even a supergroup like U2 needs to round up a corporate sponsor like Blackberry for.

Once you have that kind of cash you can go about calling up someone like Willie Williams and asking him to come up with some ideas on how to go about it. In this case, it apparently only took him one idea according to the guys over at Live Design.

I’m not going to get into the exacting specs of just how they pull this amazing feat of intimacy off, but here’s a quick list of some of the many things involved and you can follow the links if you have a burning curiosity for all things “concert tech” or an extra $ 50 mil burning a hole in your pocket.

  • Audio – Incredible 15 zone system Clair i-5 – Yes it goes to 11.
  • Lighting – Nope. Not what you think. No Vari-lites here. These are Bad Boys from the guys over at PRG. There’s a lot of them.
  • Spotlights – Coupla dozen for sure
  • Video – Insane, Custom-designed LED job by the guys over at Barco. Yes it moves. Yes it’s ginormous. Follow the links if you wanna know just how amazingly crazy this thing is.
  • Cameras – Robotic Moving Awe-inspiring setup from the guys at Telemetrics
  • Massive Superstructure Stage Rig – Bono calls it a UFO. See the show to find out why. Suffice it to say this rig is the key to pulling off the intimacy-on-a-grand-scale concept. Its big, heavy, expensive and they had to build 3 of them.
  • Band. Oh yeah – Insert supergroup into the middle of all that technology and Bam! Instant rock concert.

So, there you have a quick breakdown of how to get intimate with a bunch of people at one time. Once you have all the pieces in place the only thing that can stand in your way are traffic problems and social media-ites that like to complain about $20 parking costs.

So, as I close – you are probably asking yourself – did U2 actually pull off getting intimate with an entire city? Look at the pics on their photo page and you tell me. Keep in mind, these shots were from the upper level of the stadium. Intimate enough?

Creed & Staind Hit Jobing.com

October 1, 2009 at 1:11 pm | Posted in Concert, Rock, Tickets, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

I’m all for “rock with a positive message” as long as it’s done by a band like Creed, rather than say Stryper. Not that I have anything against 80’s hair bands in bumblebee spandex outfits…wait…I do if they are Stryper. Just saying. But I digress…

Lo-Pro opened the show, and apparently played a 19 minute set. We walked in as they were playing their last notes…so can’t really comment on those guys. I can comment on the fact that draft beers were $10.25. That is just ridiculous.

Aaron Lewis and Johnny April - Staind

Aaron Lewis and Johnny April - Staind

It wasn’t long before Staind took the stage and rocked the house. The lighting designer and soundguy were spot on! Great show both audibly and visibly. Rather than a giant video screen they opted for a seven panel display from pixled from what I gather around the net. Technically and artistically the band was definitely at the top of their game. Of course, they played all of their hits including the ones I didn’t even realize were theirs!

Scott Stapp & Mark Tremonti

Scott Stapp & Mark Tremonti

Creed put on a rock show. Yes. With fire and pyro and sound system turned up to a hair past 11. I know it was a hair past because there were some moments during the loudest passages that took the system just past its limit and you could tell. Everyone knows you never go past 11. Those moments were few, and for the most part the show was great. You gotta love a tour that includes excellent video screen with awesome imagery, Varilites on suspended elevators and explosives. You just can’t go wrong with explosives and fire.

Did I mention they had fire that we could feel from the back of the arena? Well they did. Brings a whole new dimension to entertainment. In fact some movies have tried to pull off this “4th Dimension” experience with puffs of cold air or rumbling seats. They failed. Why? Because they didn’t use fire! Apparently flames are the key to bringing some of that onstage energy into the crowd. Who knew?

The drawback to random, giant bursts of flame is that they are random and therefore, hard to capture adequately with a still camera. Varilites, giant video screens and elevators aren’t. Check the concert photos page for some of the shots I managed to grab.

Oh! a shout out to @Stang5_0 who asked me to go because he had some tickets from @JobingArenaGirl. Thanks so much!

Pizzeria Bianco

August 10, 2009 at 12:25 pm | Posted in Food, Restaurant Review | Leave a comment
Tags: , , ,

Pizzeria Bianco.

Voted by Food Network as the Best Pizza in America! I’m not going to go into a long speel here, that’s been done by so many all over the web. I’m sure you already know that it’s very small, you can’t order “to go” and you have to wait a long time for seating.

Luckily, you can mill around next door at a tiny little upscale beer/wine bar that serves everything from good wine to premium, “real sugar” soda pops.

There are no “misters” to save you from the searing heat while you wait in line. There is some shade provided by trees. You can grab a drink at the bar and sip it while waiting in line. You might as well keep your tab open when you go in the first time for refreshments, you’ll be back before you get seated…I’m almost positive.

Ok – the review!

Food is excellent. Handmade mozz, super-fresh everything on your hand-made/wood-fired pizza. You’ve heard all this before. It is top-notch! Don’t get me wrong. But is pizza and apps for 4 worth $125 when you have to wait for over an hour, maybe more? What if that hour costs another $50 in beverages? What if that hour is outside in 115 degree heat? That’s a personal decision you have to make.

Our service was good. Our food was excellent. We only had to run to the parking meter once. We arrived about 20 minutes too late to get first seating. We learned – go EARLY. Perhaps go when it isn’t 115, although I suspect more people will be willing to brave the line when it isn’t 115.

Yeah, we’ll go back. But I think we have to try Grimaldi’s before then…

IMAX THEATRE ARIZONA MILLS – Theatre Information

August 10, 2009 at 12:10 pm | Posted in Movies, Review, Theater/Theatre, Tickets | 2 Comments
Tags: , , ,

This is the only “true” giant screen IMAX theatre in the Phoenix area that shows Hollywood Blockbuster-type films (IMAX DMR films to those “in the know”). The others are either at the science museum (showing traditional IMAX films shot in IMAX format) or the current trendy multiplex versions which aren’t much bigger than a standard movie screen. You know the ones – LieMAX screens, or Fake IMAX as many like to call them.

This is the real deal, though. It’s a standalone theatre (although it is in a mall), and of course it is reserved seating (tickets can be purchased online). Yes, it has giant speakers hanging from the ceilings (they need dusting badly). Yes it is a rectangular screen showing 15/70. No, it does not have the nanoseam screen.

The caveats are, it’s not the most upscale theatre you’ve been to. The snack selection sucks, the popcorn may be very very stale, and you may feel like you need a sanitizer wipe after leaving the restrooms.

Tickets are pricey, as usual with IMAX. OF course the sound and on-screen visuals are amazing. The rest of the “experience” may leave you heading off to cleaner pastures.

Let’s hope they clean up their act and let new generations of fans learn what a REAL IMAX experience is supposed to be like.

UPDATE 1/19/10Harkins has bought this theatre as of December 2009, in time to show Avatar. Word has it, they will be remodeling the lobby, bathrooms, etc but NOT changing the projection system. They will continue to show TRUE IMAX 15perf-70mm FILMS. I just saw Avatar here, and it was good. Staff was better prepared for the crowd, friendly and generally “on top” of things. Looks like Dan Harkins is helping out us movie junkies. He probably owes us that, after tearing down the original Cine Capri and then failing to put in 70mm projectors when they rebuilt.

Chicago Gyros – Phoenix, Arizona

May 20, 2009 at 11:46 am | Posted in Food, Restaurant Review | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , ,

Chicago Gyros – Exceptional Greek & Chicago Style Cuisine – Chicago Gyros.

Here’s another gem for you foodies in the Phoenix area! I was going to start by saying its in a strip mall across the street from another fave of mine, Roberto’s – but I just realized I haven’t blogged that one yet…

This one is on 7th Street and Union Hills. It’s clean, well lit and serves up awesome food.

We ordered 2 meals – a gyros platter and a kifta kabob platter. Both come with a pretty large salad consisting of lettuces, tomatos, greek olives and some cucumbers with skins decoratively removed. They are dressed perfectly with what I am guessing is a house made vinaigrette and are presented very stylishly, albeit they do come on a traditional “cafeteria plastic tray”. Salt and pepper are in shakers on the tables.

The kitchen staff seemed pretty knowledgeable about timing as our salads were served up first, and ample time was allowed for us to enjoy the salads for their aesthetics as well as their fresh, crisp flavors before they called our order number to let us know our dinner plates were ready.

My gyros plate had what you would expect, nice freshly shaved gyros meat consisting of lamb/beef and well seasoned alongside some tomatos, onions and french fries with just one serving of tzatziki sauce (you may want to order a couple of extras). The pita was thicker than that which was served with the kifta. The kifta plate substituted a yellow rice that was fluffy and tasty in lieu of the fries.

Beverage selections consisted of Coca-Cola products at the fountain, Gatorade, Fuze, a fruit-infused  brewed iced tea or a bottled yogurt drink. Drinks are not included with the plates, but are included with some “meal deals”.

Service was friendly and efficient.  It was a Sunday night, and right around 8pm the counter person walked over and turned off the OPEN signs in the windows, without making us feel as if we were being rushed to leave.

We enjoyed the place, and I’ll definitely return – although it’ll be hard to decide on whether to stop here or cross the street to Roberto’s…as I love their carnitas!

« Previous PageNext Page »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.

%d bloggers like this: