JURASSIC ROCK: Aging rockers on the eastside, aging rockers on the westside: Take a quick gander at some of the bigger shows hitting town this week, and you might feel like you've stepped back in time.
Though it's sometimes easy to forget, many years ago, there was no such thing as MTV, and five of the seven classic rock acts performing here this week weren't around to reap the benefits that came with the music video revolution (and, yes, I'm using that last word facetiously). Of the same seven, only three have discs on the new releases shelf in stores right now: two covers albums (OK, one's only half covers) and a live career retrospective (albeit with four new tracks--and, yes, some covers--tacked on).
But, then, no one's going to see any of these performers play the new stuff, anyway. Nope, these shows are most assuredly aiming for your nostalgic dollars, not your sense of hipness. So, let's take a trip down memory lane, shall we, and take a look at them in the order in which they're appearing.
First up is Heart, who gave loads of little girls the moxie to pick up guitars way back in the early '70s. After a string of organic ballads (including "Dog and Butterfly" and "Dreamboat Annie") and rockers that truly rocked (see "Crazy on You," "Kick It Out" and "Barracuda"--the latter boasting the best Led Zeppelin riff Jimmy Page never wrote, and which is quite possibly the best rock song ever written about fish) during the '70s--the Wilson sisters, singer/guitarist Ann and guitarist/singer Nancy, reappeared in the '80s with a batch of lame power-ballads ("These Dreams," "All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You," "What About Love") that blackened the memory of their past glory. Still, if you don't mind making frequent trips to the beer garden during the fluff, the good stuff just might make the trip worthwhile.
Heart performs at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 24, at the AVA at Casino del Sol, 5655 W. Valencia Road. Tickets are $40 dollars for reserved seats, $20 for a spot on the lawn. For more information, call 883-1700 or log onto avaconcerts.com.
The following night, things get a little weird. Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins have much in common: Both left their respective partners once their egos told them they could make it on their own (Loggins parted ways with Jim Messina and McDonald quit the Doobie Brothers); both had solo hits in the '80s that originated on film soundtracks; and the two actually collaborated on a bunch of songs over the years, including a couple of their biggest hits (McDonald's biggest hit with the Doobies, "What a Fool Believes," and Loggins' "This Is It" are both credited to Loggins/McDonald). So, it would make perfect sense for the pair to tour together, right? Well, they're not. Instead, their respective current tours land them at opposite ends of town on Friday night.
McDonald, the mush-mouthed, blue-eyed soul man, oddly enough stole much of the earthy soul of the Doobies when he joined up in 1975, transforming the bluesy rockers into a polished jazzy rock outfit, a trick he likely learned singing backups for Steely Dan. But, as the masses eat up bland by the bowlful, 1978's Minute by Minute was the band's most successful album, scoring hits with the title track, "Dependin' On You" and the aforementioned "What a Fool Believes," as well as landing the group an assload of Grammys the following year. As a solo performer, McDonald scored big on the adult contemporary charts with "No Lookin' Back" (yet another co-write with Loggins), "I Keep Forgetting," "Sweet Freedom," from the Running Scared soundtrack, and "Yah Mo B There," his nonsensical duet with James Ingram. He recently released a Motown covers record--called Motown, released on Motown/Universal--that only makes you want to hear the originals. It's not bad, just pointless.
Michael McDonald performs at 8 p.m. on Friday, July 25, at City Limits, 6350 E. Tanque Verde Road. Advance tickets are available for $40 at the venue, as well as Hear's Music and all Zia Records locations, online at ticketweb.com, or by calling (866) 468-4494. They'll be $42 on the day of the show. For more info, call 733-6262.
Loggins, meanwhile, doesn't have any fresh product to promote, but, like McDonald, he boasts an impressive catalog of past hits, both with Loggins and Messina (including "Your Mama Don't Dance," "House at Pooh Corner" and "Danny's Song") and as a solo artist (among them, "Whenever I Call You 'Friend'," "I'm Alright," from the Caddyshack soundtrack, "Footloose," from the Footloose soundtrack, and "Danger Zone," from the Top Gun soundtrack--see a pattern developing here?).
Kenny Loggins performs at 8 p.m. on Friday, July 25, at Desert Diamond Casino, located on Pima Mine Road, just off Interstate 19. Advance tickets are available for $45, $35, and $30 at the casino's Desert Diamond Club and Yoly's Music Shop, or by phone at 866-DDC-WINS. They'll be $5 more at the door. For further details, call 294-7777.
The following night sees a visit from two former members of the Doors who have had the gall to reunite under the banner The Doors 21st Century. Guitarist Robbie Krieger and keyboardist Ray Manzarek (who still speaks of Jim Morrison--quite possibly the worst published poet in the history of poetry--in a messianic manner) have drafted drummer Ty Dennis to fill in for John Densmore (original Doors 21st Century drummer Stuart Copeland thankfully had to give up the gig following an injury) and the Cult's singer, Ian Astbury, to replace the charismatic Morrison. Don't blame Astbury for not trying: He's embarrassingly grown out his hair to Morrison length and taken to wearing pseudo-hippie/Indian gear in an attempt to, what, convince us he's the real deal? Despite multiple lawsuits against them, the Doors 21st Century persevere, and are actually garnering some decent reviews, though a recent appearance on Craig Kilborn's show found them lacking--Morrison, for starters.
The Doors 21st Century perform at 8 p.m. on Saturday, July 26, at AVA at Casino del Sol, 5655 W. Valencia Road. Tickets are $50 dollars for reserved seats, $25 for lawn tickets, and are available in advance at all Ticketmaster locations, online at ticketmaster.com, or by calling 321-1000. For more information, call 883-1700 or log onto avaconcerts.com.
Finally, the last stop on our tour of nostalgia brings a triple-bill of FM rock oldies staples: Alice Cooper, David Lee Roth and Ted Nugent.
Cooper's most recent Tucson appearance, at the Tucson Convention Center last September, was the full-on theatrical spectacle that he's known for: frying a nemesis in an electric chair, using a guillotine to behead a Britney Spears look-alike, a midget orgy--oh, wait, that last one was a porno I rented last week. In other words, good wholesome family fun. Cooper, who calls Phoenix home, was among the first to use such antics, which wouldn't amount to a whole lot if he didn't have the songs to back it up. Luckily, he does, as this time around, he's not engaging in any of those antics, just doing straight performances of classics like "I'm Eighteen," "Under My Wheels," "No More Mr. Nice Guy," "Only Women Bleed," "School's Out," "Billion Dollar Babies" and "Is It My Body."
One of the biggest personalities rock 'n' roll has ever known--and that's saying a hell of a lot--David Lee Roth last performed in Tucson in 1999, to an enthusiastic, sold-out room at the Outback (the now-shuttered nightclub, not the steakhouse). The acrobatic kicks weren't as high as they once were, and the ear-piercing shrieks weren't quite as swooping as days of yore, but Roth gave the fans exactly what they came for: a joyous and enthusiastically performed string of Van Halen classics and solo hits, as well as hilarious between-song banter and kisses for the ladies. Let's face facts: There's a reason Van Halen kicked ass while Roth was in the band and sucked ass after he left. And that reason can be summed up in two words: Diamond Dave.
Ted Nugent, meanwhile, is known as much these days for his love of animal-killing instruments as he is his trusty Gibson. Growing more self-parodying the older he gets, the Nuge represents a time long gone in rock stardom--a time when guys with hair down to their asses swung across stages on vines, wearing nothing but a miniscule loincloth, singing misogynistic songs like "Wang Dang Sweet Poontang" to a mass of adoring, wasted fans. The main thing I remember about his set opening for Kiss at the TCC a few years ago is a comment he made about how anyone who doesn't speak English should "get the fuck out of this country." Expect similarly enlightened declarations regarding Osama and Saddam this time around.
Alice Cooper, David Lee Roth and Ted Nugent perform at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, July 29, at AVA at Casino del Sol, 5655 W. Valencia Road. Tickets are $45 dollars for reserved seats, $20 for lawn tickets, and are available in advance at all Ticketmaster locations, online at ticketmaster.com, or by calling 321-1000. For more information call 883-1700 or log onto avaconcerts.com.