I have been a fan of Progressive Rock music since its beginnings in 1969 with the release of “In the Court of the Crimson King” by King Crimson. I was always fascinated by the musicianship of the artists and the unique music style, a fusion of jazz, psychedelic and acid rock. Progressive music was designed more for listening with its complex chord changes and long improvisations as opposed to the other music of the day that was shorter and more oriented to dancing. The early 70s was the heyday for progressive music with artists such as YES, Emerson, Lake & Palmer (ELP), King Crimson, Jethro Tull, Genesis and Pink Floyd. Having been in high school and college at the time, I enjoyed listening to this style of music while studying. It remains great music to listen to when doing stuff around the house and long road trips. For a lot in the baby-boomer generation, Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” was both a masterpiece and something to listen to while you were getting stoned. By the late 70s and 80s, Progressive music with its long songs, complex chord and instrumental music lost out to a simpler Punk and Pop Rock music style, especially with the advent of MTV. Since the 80s, Progressive Rock has merged with Metal music and created a new style of music, Progressive Metal. There are a few throwback bands out there that play a more classic Progressive Rock style. Some are newer bands and some are members of the original bands of the 70s. Over the past year we have covered classic Progressive Rock musicians Carl Palmer (ELP), Jon Anderson (YES) and Steve Hackett (Genesis) and newer artists Dream Theater and Opeth. Some tremendous Progressive Rock artists are scheduled to come through the valley over the next several months include:
Steven Wilson – Celebrity Theatre on Wednesday November 9, 2016
Steven is best known as the creative genius behind the band Porcupine Tree. He created Porcupine Tree in 1987. A fellow worker introduced me to Porcupine Tree in 2010 and I really liked their concept album, The Incident. For me, Steven’s style is unique but has some characteristics similar to Pink Floyd and The Alan Parsons Project. For the last 5 years Steven has been doing his solo work and created such great album as The Raven That Refused to Sing (And Other Stories) and Hand. Cannot. Erase. From the set lists of this tour, Steven will be doing a lot from Hand.Cannot.Erase. and additional songs from other Porcupine Tree and his solo albums. Steven is finally coming to the USA after completing a successful world tour for a 13 date tour. The tour will feature a combination of quadrophonic sound and amazing virtuoso musicianship. As many of you might know, the Celebrity Theatre is a round venue with a turning stage. However, for Steven’s show, they will only utilize half of the venue and the stage will not turn, so every seat will be fantastic and give everyone great views. Tickets to the Phoenix show are available at https://celebritytheatre.ticketforce.com/eventperformances.asp?evt=1750
ARW – Celebrity Theatre on Sunday November 20, 2016
In the 70s, YES was one of the biggest Progressive bands filling large arenas and stadiums. I saw them in 1978 at the ASU Baseball stadium and the show was fantastic. Three of the members of the band have reformed to create ARW. They are singer Jon Anderson, guitarist Trevor Rabin, and keyboardist Rick Wakeman. I saw Jon Anderson last year and his voice is still amazing and sounds so much like in the classic YES studio albums. Rick Wakeman was one of the great keyboardist of the 70s. He was known for his outlandish costumes and the multiple keyboards he surrounded himself with. Trevor Rabin was the guitarist and co-writer when YES finally got their first #1 hit with “Owner of a Lonely Heart”. If this year’s tour set lists from past shows are any indication, then we will be in for an outstanding night of great YES classic songs including “I’ve Seen All Good People”, “Rhythm of Love”, “Heart of the Sunrise”, “Changes”, ”Long Distance Runaround”, “Owner of a Lonely Heart” and “Roundabout”. For this show, they will not rotate the stage and only ¾ of the facility will be used. Again no seat being more than 70 feet away from the stage. Tickets for the upcoming Phoenix show are available at https://celebritytheatre.ticketforce.com/eventperformances.asp?evt=1743 .
Rodger Hodgson – Celebrity Theatre on December 2, 2016
Rodger Hodgson co-founded the progressive rock band Supertramp in 1969. Rodger was the legendary voice, writer and arranger of some of Supertramp’s greatest hits include their 1979’s Breakfast in America album. Rodger says he is an entertainer and wants to give the fans what they want to hear. So for this tour, he is playing a lot of classic Supertramp songs including “Take the Long Way Home”, “Breakfast in America”, “The Logical Song”, “Dreamer” and “Give a Little Bit”. He is also doing a few of his solo works including “Death and a Zoo”. For this show, they will not rotate the stage and only ¾ of the facility will be used. Again no seat being more than 70 feet away from the stage. Tickets for the upcoming Phoenix show are available at https://celebritytheatre.ticketforce.com/eventperformances.asp?evt=1759 .
Steve Vai – Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts on December 12, 2016
Steve Vai is a virtuoso guitarist, visionary composer, and consummate producer who sculpts musical sound with infinite creativity and technical mastery. Steve has been called one of the top 10 guitarists by Guitar World Magazine. At age 12 he learned from the great guitarist Joe Satriani and later attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. Steve has played with a lot of the greats including Frank Zappa, Ozzy Osbourne, Yngwie Malmsteen, Joe Satriani and Zakk Wylde. In 1990 also saw the release of the Ibanez Universe, the first production seven-string guitar, co-designed by Vai in conjunction with Ibanez. For some people, they remember Steve from the movie Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey where Steve performs the tracks “The Reaper” and “The Reaper Rap”. Steve has won 3 Grammys, 12 Guitar Player and 5 Guitar World awards. Steve will be performing at the Virginia G. Piper Theater which is an 800 plus seat classic tiered concert hall. I have seen a number of concerts at this venue and its acoustics are fantastic. Tickets for the upcoming Scottsdale show are available at http://tickets.scottsdalearts.org/single/SelectSeating.aspx?p=8870 .
Trans-Siberian Orchestra – Gila River Arena on December 26, 2016
I saw Trans-Siberian Orchestra (TSO) a few years ago and it was one of the best stage productions I had seen. Their concert includes a string section, a light show, lasers, massive pyro display, video screens, and effects synchronized to their music. If you look at the band’s tour schedule, you see that they are playing in two different cities at the same time. The reality is that TSO is made up of a large group of extremely talented musicians that divide up into 2 groups and tour. TSO became superstars in 2005 when a video of Carson Williams’ house with a synchronized Christmas lighting display to TSO’s “Wizards In Winter” went viral. The video was later picked up by Miller Lite for their TV ads over the next two years. This year’s tour they are doing the ‘The Ghosts of Christmas Eve’. They will be playing two shows, 3PM and 7:30PM, at the Gila River Arena (Arizona Coyotes Hockey Arena) in Glendale Arizona. Tickets for the upcoming show are available at http://www.ticketmaster.com/hallmark-channel-presents-transsiberian-orchestra-2016-glendale-arizona-12-26-2016/event/19005112A301198B?camefrom=CFC_NCM_TSOWEB16_TOUR_Phoenix_AZ_Mat&brand=tso (3PM Show) and http://www.ticketmaster.com/hallmark-channel-presents-transsiberian-orchestra-2016-glendale-arizona-12-26-2016/event/19005112A3061992?camefrom=CFC_NCM_TSOWEB16_TOUR_Phoenix_AZ_Eve&brand=tso (7:30PM Show).
By Fred Kuhlman