Jeff Beck intended to spend the summer playing venues he was familiar with, places like the Capitol Theater in Port Chester, N.Y., where he’s booked solo on Aug. 15. Then his agent called.
“My CAA rep said, ‘If you want to play to a larger audience, the arenas, there’s this offer with Paul Rodgers [Free, Bad Company and The Firm] and Ann Wilson [Heart].’ At first I thought ‘Is the message going to be slightly blurred?’ Then I thought what’s wrong with playing to 15,000 instead of 300 or 3,000?” Beck told Pollstar. “So this was the best option on my plate.”
Beck was speaking yesterday (April 30) at Live Nation’s New York headquarters about the 19-show Stars Align Tour that runs July 18 to Aug. 26, starting at USANA Amphitheater in West Valley City, Utah, and includes stops in Houston, Chicago and Jones Beach in New York.
It’s one of multiple tours that are part of Live Nation’s Concert Week promotion offering $20-all-in tickets to more than 2,000 shows this summer. The promoter says it expects to sell 1.5 million tickets at the reduced rate and to get out the word, they brought in nearly two dozen acts Monday to discuss their summer plans with the media.
Beck, with drummer Vinnie Colaiuta and singer Jimmy Hall in the band along with cellist Vanessa Freebairn-Smith, will be using the tour to road test material for his next album, both originals and, quite possibly, a cover of a Disney tune. “So we don’t bore people we’ll stick the odd squib in there,” he says. “It’s what we did with Rod Stewart-Jeff Beck Group – see what goes over big and get rid of the other ones that don’t.”
Wilson will be debuting material from an upcoming album of covers by recently deceased musicians – David Bowie, Tom Petty, Amy Winehouse – called “Immortal” that BMG has penciled in for a mid-July release. “I’m doing several Heart songs, no more than three; the ones that have stood the test of time,” she says.
And Rodgers will focus on songs he recorded with Free and Bad Co. He recorded a live album with his band Free Spirit last year, he says, “and the response was deep. I thought we have to bring this to the States and we were going to do small theater tour, but it has become much bigger.”
Also talking to Pollstar about their summer plans were Gov’t Mule’s Warren Haynes, and members of Styx, Zac Brown Band and 3 Doors Down.
For the 10th anniversary of “Dark Side of the Mule,” a Gov’t Mule Halloween show of Pink Floyd covers, Haynes and company are re-creating the event by playing six shows in the East and Midwest with the Avett Brothers.
“Mountain Jam asked us to do it five years ago so this is the third time we’ve done it,” says Haynes who has devoted his energies to the Mule since the Allman Brothers Band disbanded. “We start out doing a Gov’t Mule show – it’s a long set – and then morph into ‘Dark Side of the Mule.’”
Styx starts a lengthy run with Joan Jett and the Blackhearts on May 30 in Irvine, Calif. “We’ve been with REO Speedwagon, seen Foreigner a lot, loved opening for Def Leppard, and it was time for a change,” Styx guitarist James “JY” Young says. “Kasim Sultan played bass with Joan and he said, ‘Go with Joan,’ so we took Kasim’s word for it.
“Opening for Def Leppard we obviously played a tougher-sounding set and with Joan we’ll play a tougher set. We may have a curve ball to throw in.”
Brad Arnold of 3 Doors Down, touring with Collective Soul and Soul Asylum from July to October, says he hopes the band has some new material to try out. “We’re going to get busy writing more after the tour but I hope to get a chance to write before we go out,” he says. We always say we’ll write while traveling, but the only song we ever wrote while on tour was ‘Not My Time.’ It was nice to take it around and fill it out. It’s a given you’re not going to get the enthusiasm for a new song, but you can still look around the crowd and tell if it’s good. We haven’t done that a lot.”
The Zac Brown Band’s Down the Rabbithole tour will stop at Boston’s Fenway Park, Toronto’s Rogers Centre and Safeco Field in Seattle, which thrills bassist John Driskell Hopkins.
“Being in so many baseball stadiums is just a whole different sort of experience,” he says of the tour that runs June 8 to Sept. 30. “We’ve done the eat-and-greets – we’re not doing those. But we are taking on this whole baseball vibe and tying into a lot of activities to be a part of the baseball community.”
Needless to say, the entire band is made up of Atlanta Braves fans.