Disney In Concert Utah Symphony July 19, 2019, Deer Valley

By: Kevin Rolfe with contributions by Kerriann Haycock

Photo By: Kerriann Haycock

It was the perfect evening for an outdoor concert!  Escaping the heat, heading up to Deer Valley, throwing down a couple of chairs and a blanket, eating and drinking with friends, what could be more perfect?  How about a concert full of the greatest music from the Disney songbook? Sounds like the perfect evening! As part of their Deer Valley Music Festival series, the Utah Symphony presented Disney in Concert: A Magical Celebration at the Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater.  

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RAIN-A Tribute to The Beatles June 22, 2019, Eccles Theater

By: Matt Wolf

Photo By: Matt Wolf

If you were to ask a group of people, “What band/singer do you wish you could have seen live in concert?” who would they say?  I’d imagine Elvis is one most people would mention. I would also think that Freddie Mercury with Queen would be another. For me, I would have loved to have seen Buddy Holly or perhaps Whitney Houston.  Speaking of Buddy, I’m excited for the chance to “see him” and Roy Orbison in lifelike hologram form at the “Rock ‘N’ Roll Dream Tour” this October at Eccles Theater. But of all the bands and singers and musicians around I would have to think if you asked someone who they wish they could see in concert it would be The Beatles.  Even when they were together and all the band members were alive they didn’t play live nearly as much as people would have liked. Unfortunately, John Lennon and George Harrison have passed. Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr still tour on their own, but what would it be like to have seen The Beatles in concert? Well, that’s where RAIN comes in.  They put on a show that gives you as close a look as you’re ever going to get.

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Rhett & Link June 22, 2019, Maverik Center

By: Evelyn Salazar

Photo By: Evelyn Salazar

Singing, comedy, and vanilla-wafer top hats, what more could you possibly want? That’s what Rhett and Link brought to the stage at The Maverik Center this last Saturday. The best friend, comedy duo hit the road for their first live concert tour, Salt Lake City, being only their second stop. If you don’t know who Rhett and Link are, or what Good Mythical Morning is then you are missing out on some top notch YouTube content. Rhett and Link are the stars of their YouTube show, Good Mythical Morning (GMM), with over 15 million subscribers who watch their videos religiously, as they upload nearly everyday. I love watching GMM! You never know what these two goofballs are going to do. From watching them eat strange and sometimes questionable food to watching them test women’s clothes, or make a human pizza, their videos are bound to make you laugh! I was super excited to see them live again! I traveled to Seattle in 2017 for their book tour. This time though, they were live in concert! They hadn’t been to Salt Lake in a few years, so fans, old and new, were super eager to see their favorites in person and not just on a small screen. 

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Jim Gaffigan December 7, 2018 Vivint Arena

By: Kevin Rolfe

Photo By: Kevin Rolfe

Stand up comedy is an art form that fascinates me.  The ability to stand in front of a group of strangers and cause them to naturally react to something you’re saying with laughter totally blows my mind.  I truly marvel at the nerve these people have. I don’t know how they do it. I think it must be the scariest, riskiest in terms of failure potential, and therefore the most rewarding art form out there.  When a comic bombs, it’s just them out there. There aren’t other bandmates that they can share in their tanking with. It’s just them. But when done right, what can be better than having an entire comedy club crying laughing because of something you said.  Then imagine having an entire theater cracking up at something you said. Then imagine having an entire arena, filling a venue with thunderous laughter because of something you said. That’s how it was on Friday, December 7, at Vivint Smart Home Arena with Jim Gaffigan.  

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Andrea Bocelli November 29, 2018 Vivint Arena Salt Lake City

By: Kevin Rolfe

Photo By: Kevin Rolfe

We really classed things up over here at Utah Concert Review last night.  Vivint  Smart Home Arena was transformed into an opera house, and we attended Andrea Bocelli’s first ever concert in Utah.  He has such a strong fan base here in Utah that it was surprising that he had never played here before. Well, it was well worth the wait.  Bocelli’s fans were out in full force packing the arena for their favorite tenor’s debut in Utah.

Before I get into the concert itself, I have to mention some things about the audience and the venue.  While I enjoy attending concerts at Vivint Smart Home Arena the sound isn’t always the best. It’s just the way the venue was built.  Some tours come through and the sound techs can’t figure out how to mix this venue. Other times it’s passable and the show is so good no one cares. And other times the sound is good. I was concerned because of the type of show Andrea Bocelli puts on. It’s opera. It’s the type of music that is usually performed in halls created with the greatest acoustics you’ll find anywhere. But I have to hand it to whoever did the sound at this show. As far as shows go at Vivint Arena, this was one of the best I’ve heard.

Now, with opera being performed, this show is an upscale event.  A certain decorum and style are expected as such events. But it’s difficult because we’re all walking into a venue where basketball is played, and Metallica is performing the next night.  If you’re going to the Capitol Theater to see The Magic Flute, I think you know it’s the type of show where you throw on your best suit or dress. But I think this audience got the idea. People were dressed to the nines!  I saw slick suits and fancy gowns all throughout the arena. I saw furs (hopefully synthetic, or really really old!) and ascots. This audience was gussied up! And for whatever reason, that made me really happy.

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Sutton Foster w/ the Utah Symphony July 21, 2018 Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater Deer Valley

Sutton Foster was a surprise addition to this year’s Deer Valley Music Festival lineup.  This date was initially booked for Kristin Chenoweth. But it was reported that she was having neck issues and was needing surgery so she would have to cancel her scheduled summer performances.  Sutton was booked to fill the slot. Not a bad replacement I’d say. I asked a couple next to me if they had bought tickets for this event when Kristin was scheduled, or if they bought tickets specifically to see Sutton.  They told me that they had originally purchased tickets when Kristin Chenoweth was scheduled, but when they saw Sutton Foster was her replacement, they were more than excited. They said, “You can’t go wrong! Sure they’re different performers, but they’re amazing in their own way.  We would not have missed this show for anything. We love Sutton!”. That seemed to be the overwhelming sentiment from the others I spoke to.

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Audra McDonald March 23, 2018 Salt Lake City Abravanell Hall

I first had the privilege of seeing Audra McDonald about twenty years ago when she originated the role of “Sarah” in the musical Ragtime. And while she was brilliant in the role it wasn’t until four years later that I understood her true brilliance, when I saw her sing the songs of Gershwin at the legendary Hollywood Bowl in Southern California.  It was there that I realized that not only is her voice fantastic, but there is just so much more to her concert than just that amazing range. So when I discovered that she would be playing two nights with the Utah Symphony at Abravanel Hall, I knew I had to be there.  

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Jeff & Larry’s Backyard BBQ with Eddie Money Friday August 18, 2017 USANA Amphitheater

It’s a hot night in the middle of August.  Seems like a perfect night for a barbeque!  

Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy hosted their Backyard BBQ at USANA Amphitheater Friday night.  And they brought some guests with them.  

The show opened with the evening’s’ emcee, comedian Nick Hoff taking the stage.  I thought he got a really good response from the audience during his set.  It seems like it would be really hard to get a crowd to engage with you right at the beginning of the night with the sun still setting and people just getting to their seats.  But he was good, and the audience seemed to really enjoy him. He had the right personality for it, and that was to his benefit when it came to his emceeing duties as well.  

Nick then introduced the first band of the evening.  A local band out of Cottonwood Heights, Saylo.  I enjoyed them.  I thought they were a really solid band.  The only thing I would say is their sound didn’t really fit the theme of the evening.  They didn’t scream, comedy, barbeque, or blue collar.  I thought they would have been better suited at the upcoming Love Loud festival, or maybe the Twilight Concert Series.  That being said, if I was invited to play for thousands of people at USANA Amphitheater, fit the theme or not, I would have accepted the invite too!  I thought they did a good job all things considered.  

Jeff Foxworthy was next.  I have to admit, I didn’t expect to see him so early in the evening.  It was a surprise when he was introduced, but I was excited to listen to him.  It’s an interesting transition to go from a band to a comedian, but I thought the change was pretty smooth.  The audience, of course, roared when Jeff took the stage.  

Now, because the material in stand up comedy is very specific and repeated in every town, I don’t want to share the jokes/ stories that were told.  I wouldn’t want to spoil that for someone who wants to see Jeff or Larry down the road.  Let me just say this, if you have enjoyed Jeff Foxworthy’s comedy in the past, then you’ll love this material as well.  While he is known for his “You might be a redneck…” line of jokes, he steered clear of being pigeon holed and branched out with hilarious stories and jokes.  Of course, they were generally centered around a blue collar theme.  Jeff was great, and the audience showed their approval throughout his set.  

Larry the Cable Guy was next to take the stage.  It’s interesting how fame works.  Some years back, Larry was the first to take the stage in the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, and now he’s the headlining comedian.  His material and persona (His real name is Dan Whitney.  Larry the Cable Guy is a character he created for the stage) are so locked in that he makes you believe that he’s really that guy on and off stage.  I think it’s genius the way he “dumbs down” his act.  It seems so simple, yet it’s so clever.  I thought he was hilarious.  

The most surprising thing to me was the order that the talent appeared.  After Larry left the stage, Eddie Money was introduced and he closed the show.  I did not expect this.  I don’t know if it was the best idea either.  Those who came specifically to see Jeff and Larry left the amphitheater during Eddie Money’s set.  I never like when people don’t stay for the whole show, but I suppose they saw what they came to see, so they felt no reason to stay.  

I thought those who did remain for the show’s entirety really enjoyed Eddie’s performance. Money shared with the audience that he was recording the show.  He mentioned that he wanted his family to be able to hear the performance.  Eddie played all of his hits like, “Two Tickets to Paradise” and “Take Me Home Tonight”.  I wish more had stayed, but it was still a fun way to end the night.  

I thought the atmosphere was great.  People seemed to be having a great time either laughing or rocking out.  There were barbeque options throughout the amphitheater concourse as well as fun games that you might find at a family BBQ.  It was an excellent way to spend a summer evening!

Idina Menzel UCCU Center October 1, 2015 Orem Utah

Idina

Quick! Name the first ten Broadway stars that come to your mind! Ok, the first five! Eh, how about one?  Now for you theater lovers, that may have been a fairly simple task, but for you others out there, you blew it!  And you’re missing out on some pretty fantastic voices. Anyway, even if you’re not a fan of musical theater, you may recognize the name Idina Menzel.  And even if that name doesn’t yet ring a bell, you’ll surely recognize her first professional job as one of the stars of arguably the biggest musical of the 90’s, the award winning musical “Rent”, where she was nominated for a Tony Award portraying the role of Maureen.  Unfamiliar with that show?  Well, first off, I just feel sorry for you, but perhaps you’ll recognize Idina from the unquestioned biggest musical of the 2000’s, “Wicked”, where she won a Tony Award for portraying the role of Elphaba, The Wicked Witch of the West.  And if you still don’t know her, then there is no doubt that you’ll recognize her as the voice of Elsa in the humungous Disney animated feature film “Frozen”, singing the Academy Award winning song “Let it Go”.  So, if you still aren’t familiar, one, you’ve been living in the wilderness somewhere with no contact to the world, and two,  I’m sure you can at least see for the past 25 years she has been busy being featured in one successful endeavour after another.  And here she was right of front of me in Orem, Utah of all places!

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Alfie Boe March 14, 2015 UCCU Center, Orem Utah

Alfie

Alfie Boe is Tony Award winner, and known throughout the world for playing the lead role of Jean Valjean in the 25th Anniversary Concert at the O2 Arena in London. And while the latter event brought him into the spotlight for the mainstream world, many have known him and loved him for years. And there he was, in our own back yard, on March 14, at the UCCU center in Orem, Utah. Word on the street is Alfie is married to a native Utanian, and because of this he lives in Salt Lake City for part of the year. Because of this, we here in Utah have the benefit of getting to see and hear him in person, where otherwise we might not be so fortunate.

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