BY JESS BECK | Go Venue Magazine
With impending weather on the horizon, some folks were iffy on whether we would get drenched here in the desert during the show. Emergency ponchos were ready as Phoenix is still trying to get past monsoon season.
But on October 07, 2022, it wouldn’t have mattered if a Sharknado ripped through the Ak-Chin Pavilion. The fans that were there on Friday night were ready for a thrashing of a different kind. And indeed we were as our ear holes were flooded by the hypnotic performances of John Harvie, Jelly Roll, and headliner Shinedown.
John Harvie opened the show on more of a poppy note than I anticipated for a show like this. One fan mentioned that to them, they sounded a little more like Panic! At the Disco, but after giving them more of a listen, they sound like a combination of We Were Sharks and Mod-Sun. And that’s not a bad thing by any means. The mullet rocking, vintage Nike sporting musician was entertaining as hell as he quickly took command of the stage and even got the audience involved in a few of his songs.
Which was an impressive feat considering he ousted himself as an Eagles fan amidst what is arguably Cardinals territory in NFL terms. “GO BIRDS!” Harvie shouted milliseconds before there were a chorus of resounding “boos” from the audience because he didn’t chant for the right set of birds (he might face similar backlash in other bird/sports states). This is equally confusing as he is shown wearing a Titans jersey on his website, but maybe he’s going the Drake route and just rooting for every team under the sun in order to appeal to a wider fan base. “Hey now,” he continued. “I always ask to get booed at shows, but it’s never quite been like that before!” he said with a chuckle. “We can still be friends though,” he said with a wink to the audience.
Harvie also happens to be catchy as fuck, which is neat. His track “A Little Bit Longer” was a big hit with the audience as the bassist and guitar player danced around on the stage behind him. The drummer, however, did not dance around on the stage. I award him no points, and may God have mercy on his soul.
Continuing the trend of the mullet was rapper Jelly Roll.
From the fanfare, it would be easy to see where Jelly Roll might headline his own tour in the coming year or two. Forming our generation’s version of what might be referred to as “hick-hop” (and also might become this generation’s version of Meatloaf – but time will tell) his music is currently in the top 10 on Billboard, and with his Southern inspiration and serious beats, he could possibly be the next face-tattooed human being to be a household name since Post Malone.
He puts on quite an electric show too, fueled by pyro and larger than life sound. During one part of his set, Jelly Roll descended to the catwalk to tell the fans that this was the proudest moment of his life. “This is the proudest moment of my life y’all,” he said as you could almost imagine a tear forming in his eye (it could’ve been sweat, but it sounds more wholesome to imagine a tear). “This next song is in the top 10 for Hot Country on Billboard, and I never thought I’d see that day!” He then launched into “Son of a Sinner,” which is more of an authentic country ballad, but Roll has some pipes in that chest for sure.
His voice is the perfect combination of gritty and melodic. Like if Darious Rucker and Bubba Sparxxx had a baby – that’s what Jelly Roll sounds like.
But he’s so good. Opening with “Hate Goes On,” he displayed his ability to rap with the fluidity of an experienced hip-hop artist, and then switched fluidly to full country, both with a full band behind him for support. Having only heard the hip-hop side of Jelly Roll prior to the concert, it was a nice surprise to see him with a full band, as I had anticipated more of a DJ/Hype man type situation with what you typically find with hip-hop shows.
After a lengthy changeover, Shinedown was ready to…well…shine down!
It’s worth noting that while they did not carry on the trend of the mullet, they did happen to carry on the trend of vintage Nike’s.
And started a new tradition of sticking their tongues out – see the photos for proof.
Anyway, on to the show!
Opening with a giant story board, they tracked the clock back to 2019 when everything shut down to Covid and video clips of themselves in the studio recording their new album “Planet Zero.” Walking through a small part in the video screen, the band paused before taking their places on stage – seeming to soak in a quiet moment to themselves to soak in the thunderous applause from the crowd.
You could tell they missed this.
They then took their respective places on the stage to an explosion of fire behind them that really kicked things off as they opened their setlist with the power track “The Saints of Violence and Innuendo.” Vocalist Brent Smith nailed his performance and didn’t miss a beat, sounding as great as ever live as he does on the records. Bandmates Zach Myers and Eric Bass tagged an electric performance, using the catwalk to engage an already enthusiastic audience.
The explosiveness from their energy I’m quite sure could power a city if provided the opportunity, and during their second song “Devil” they were joined on the catwalk by Smith. The video board roared on behind them as fire continued to touch the sky, making for one hell of a spectacle, not only as a photographer but also as a fan – this show would make me want to see every Shinedown show ever from here on out.
They also covered older material as they’ve been around for the past two decades, and at one point even had a piano lifted down from the rafters, which is also a stunt I haven’t seen yet before. To say that the audience didn’t lose their shit to “45” from their 2003 album Leave a Whisper would just be bad reporting – because they absolutely did.
If you have the chance to catch a Shinedown show while they’re still on tour, make sure you do it. It’s one for the ages. In fact, the only other live act I’ve seen take such a commanding presence on stage is Parkway Drive, and in my own humble opinion, that’s pretty alright company to be in. Oh, and their new album Plant Zero has 20 tracks on it, so don’t count on them slowing down any time soon.
As always, thank you to the Ak-Chin Pavilion staff for working around the clock to ensure an enjoyable experience was had by all. Thanks to Live Nation and the work they do to bring us these incredible shows. Remember to wear deodorant (I’m going to put this in ever article until you smelly, smelly humans start to do it), to be excellent to each other, and we’ll catch ya at the next show!