LIKE VINCENT GALLO AND CHRISTINA RICCI, THESE BANDS SPAN TIMELike any decent-sized city in the summer, Tucson is chock-full of classic rock acts looking to cash in on their years of hits. This week, the local casinos host a trio of such shows.
But maybe that's being a bit pessimistic. Sure, the bands want to make a few (million) bucks--what band doesn't? And, sure, some of the people flocking to these shows are likely to be yahoos looking to relive their youth. But I suspect that a good number of attendees will also be families. The parents want to regress to a more carefree time in their lives--who doesn't like a little nostalgia every once in a while?--and turn on their kids to the stuff of their own youth, while the kids have probably grown up listening to their parents' old records (or at least the records they had no choice but to listen to while their parents played 'em).
That's the thing about timeless music: It can get passed from generation to generation with only a slight loss of historical context. The same reason kids today are still discovering Pet Sounds is the same reason it's so hard to fathom those same kids turning on their own kids to Fall Out Boy. One is evergreen; the other likely isn't. Like it or not, the music of the four bands appearing at these three shows has held up rather well. There's a reason it's still being played on the radio today, 20 to 40 years after its release.
And who knows? Maybe some of those kids going to these shows with their parents will turn their own kids on to these same bands. That's why they call it "classic," after all.
Since I've already mentioned Pet Sounds, let's start with the Beach Boys, who once again are coming to town just six months after their last appearance. This is the "official" touring version of the band, which is fronted by the ever-litigious Mike Love and includes original member Bruce Johnston, but other than that is filled out by a pack of ringers. (The group's creative mastermind, Brian Wilson, occasionally tours as a solo act with backing band these days, while former member Al Jardine sometimes tours with his own knockoff act.) I've talked a bit of smack about this "official" version in the past, but since I'm in a charitable mood, I'll highlight the positive here. Nothing says summer quite like the Beach Boys; Love's voice is, indeed, the one found on many Beach Boys hits (many of which he's also credited with co-writing); and the hits you'll hear this week, and which are ubiquitous enough that I don't need to name them here, are abundant.
The Beach Boys perform at 7 p.m. next Thursday, July 24, at Desert Diamond Casino, 1100 W. Pima Mine Road. Advance tickets are available for $32-$45 at the casino's box office, all Ticketmaster locations, Ticketmaster.com or by calling 321-1000. On the day of the show, they'll be $37-$50. For more information, call (866) 332-9467.
Next up is a pairing of two '70s and '80s acts that can each draw a substantial crowd of their own.
As anyone who reads the drivel I write on a fairly regular basis can tell you, Cheap Trick are one of my favorite bands of all-time. If the first thing you think of when you hear their name is "The Flame," I urge you to do a little more investigating. Even "Surrender" and "I Want You to Want Me," as great as they both are, have been played to death.
But check out any of the band's first three albums in their entirety and you'll find those two classics were no fluke. For my money, nobody in their era better combined driving, inventive guitar riffs with surging power-pop hooks. And, perhaps best of all, the current incarnation of the band comprises all four original members--extremely rare for a classic-rock band--and they're still hella great in a live setting.
But my beloved Cheap Trick are this week relegated to opening-band status for Journey, who, to be fair, had more hits and sold more records. The current lineup includes original members Neal Schon (guitar, vocals) and Ross Valory (bass, vocals), as well as keyboardist and vocalist Jonathan Cain, who has been with the band since 1980, and drummer and vocalist Deen Castronovo, who joined the reunited band 10 years ago. And the singer spot, which has seen a number of faces come and go over the years (all the band's hits came during their Steve Perry-fronted heyday), is now occupied by a guy named Arnel Pineda, who joined just last year after the band found him on YouTube and was impressed by how close he could mimic Perry.
The string of hits during Perry's reign is impressive: "Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'," "Any Way You Want It," "Wheel in the Sky," "Faithfully," "Who's Crying Now," "Only the Young," "Send Her My Love," "Stone in Love" and, of course, "Don't Stop Believin'," which brought the band a whole new wave of attention as the last sounds heard in the final episode of The Sopranos. Earlier this year, the group capitalized on that attention by issuing a two-CD/DVD set, Revelation (Nomota), the first disc of which was all new material, with the second a greatest-hits set. Proving the band's still got some industry juice, it debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard albums chart. Further proving the band's pull, lawn tickets for this week's show are already sold out.
Journey and Cheap Trick perform at 8 p.m. on Saturday, July 19, at AVA at Casino del Sol, 5655 W. Valencia Road. The only tickets left will run you either $95 or $125 and are available at avaconcerts.com or by calling (877) 840-0457.
But of all the classic-rock acts hitting the area this week, arguably the biggest "get" is Steely Dan. The band, once known as a studio-only act--and due to leaders Walter Becker and Donald Fagen's perfectionist tendencies, they'd work longer and harder in the studio than most--have in recent years gotten a lot more friendly with the live-performance format. Their current tour marks something like their fifth tour in 15 years--or, just as accurately, 33 years, as the group originally retired from playing live in 1975.
The band's lush, jazzy, tasteful sound, filled out by a string of some of the finest studio players of the era, belied their subversive lyrical tendencies. Sure, you can smile, nod your head and tap your feet to "Reelin' in the Years," but listen closely, and you'll realize it's a scathing kiss-off to a former friend in the style of "Positively 4th Street."
As a child of the '70s and '80s, maybe I'm falling into that whole nostalgic trap here, but I must say that Steely Dan provided one of the foremost soundtracks of my youth. All you had to do was turn on the radio (as you still can) to hear their incredible run of hit songs with substance: "Rikki Don't Lose That Number," "Peg" (which De La Soul once famously sampled), "Do It Again," "Josie," "Kid Charlemagne," "My Old School," "Hey Nineteen" ... I could go on and on. And due to those aforementioned perfectionist tendencies, you can bet that Fagen and Becker have assembled a crack band to back them up.
Don't miss this rare opportunity to see Steely Dan, who perform at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, July 22, at AVA at Casino del Sol, 5655 W. Valencia Road. Advance tickets are available for $30-$95 by heading to avaconcerts.com or calling (877) 840-0457.
ON THE BANDWAGONAfter a three-year hiatus (is that all it's been?) local alt-rockers Tongue Dried Sun have re-emerged with a new album, Zero Hour (Swap), which they'll fete with a CD-release show at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Friday, July 18. Pretty Bird and Smash open at 9 p.m. $5; 622-8848.
Giddy, good-time lesbian electro hip-hop duo Team Gina come to town this week as part of an eclectic multi-act bill that also includes locals Blues, Mad River Glenn and 21 Pump Street. The night will serve as a send-off party for the headlining Indiana Tones, who will be performing their last show as Tucsonans before relocating to Austin. Good luck, y'all! This one starts at 9 p.m., Tuesday, July 22, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Only $3! 622-8848.