Concert review of Steve Roach at the Galactic Center in Tucson, AZ

 


One musician who’d been on my 'must-see-in-concert' list for many years is pioneering ambient/electronic composer Steve Roach, whose many live performances over the span of his extensive career have long-been raved about. An avid fan of Roach’s music ever since I got hooked on his 1997 album On This Planet, I've since collected many recordings of his over the years. When I received notice several months ago that he'd be performing at the Galactic Center in his hometown of Tucson, Arizona, I knew this was an opportunity I simply couldn’t miss this go around! Even more so, considering that this bona fide Floridian has long felt a special connection to Arizona. Although I’d visited the state once prior, this would be my first time heading further south to Tucson. Roach was initially scheduled to perform just Friday and Saturday night. Upon learning that the concerts were sold-out when I attempted to purchase tickets online, I was soon notified that a third date had been added on Sunday. Fortunately, I grabbed tickets for the final show right away, since it didn’t take long for that date to sell-out as well!

My weekend adventure began when I arrived in Phoenix on Friday, February the 9th. Not only was the amazing flutist Sherry Finzer (who lives in the area and was instrumental in helping to make the whole experience happen – thank you!) up for attending the concert as well – but we’d also got in touch beforehand with harpist Peter Sterling in Sedona, who graciously offered to take us on a jeep tour and hike of the beautiful, red-rock landscape on Saturday, as well as invited us to his lovely home where – in addition to recording his music – he also creates beautiful Mandala artwork that decorates the place. Later that evening, the three of us enjoyed a wonderful dinner and conversation at a local restaurant called Paleo Grill. Like many others who’ve experienced Sedona, I find it to be one of the most indescribably extraordinary places on earth – having accurately sensed that it would be exactly as I experienced even long before I ventured there.

 

On Sunday, February the 11th, Sherry and I headed out to Prescott city to meet renowned world percussionist Byron Metcalf and vocalist Jennifer Grais. While there, we along with several other friends of theirs were treated to a sonic-shamanic experience to coincide with the release of their amazing new collaborative album entitled They Were Here . Didgeridoo player Dashmesh Khalsa (who has recorded with both Metcalf and Roach) also helped to facilitate the amazing sound journey. 


Later that afternoon, Sherry and I embarked on our 4-hour drive down to Tucson for the concert. There was something especially significant about coming upon a sign along the highway denoting that we’d finally entered Pima County (within where the concert venue in Tucson was located – something I hadn’t learned until the day before leaving for Arizona). Just less than a year ago, after having already visited Arizona the first time around, I’d unexpectedly confirmed that I had literal ancestral ties to the native people the county is named for (thanks mama!). Combine that revelation with the fact that I was finally going to see one of my all-time favorite musicians in concert? Well, call me ‘woo-woo’, but me thinks there was some serious synchronicity going on!


We finally arrived at the Galactic Center – a perfect venue for hosting such an event, with its interior all decked-out with psychedelic and shamanic artwork. The place even included a couple of cool cave structures along one side that people could crawl into, where they could also get cozy with pillows and blankets (and presumably each other). However, Sherry and I opted for a front-row seat near one of the main speakers, where we could both get a clear view of the stage as well as experience the best sound quality in the house. 

 

 

While waiting for Roach to enter the stage, I managed to take a couple of selfies and other pictures of our surroundings, as the place soon filled up with concert-goers. 

 

 

Roach was eventually greeted with warm applause before taking command of the controls – and from there it was a full two hours of transportive sonic immersion! I’d periodically capture some video moments with my phone, as Roach moved through a range of dynamic sequencer passages, ethno-tribal transits and darkly spacious soundscapes that were perfectly enhanced by the dreamy, aurora-like effects that softly illuminated the stage. Completely engrossed in what I’d describe as a psychoshamanic sound experience, I took note of an impressive range of complex sound textures, which included trippy fractal beats, indigenous instruments and vocal samples, and lifelike nature sounds that effectively conveyed a feeling of exploring a subterranean environment. 

 

 

After the concert, we hung around a bit and I introduced myself to Sam Rosenthal who heads up Projekt Records, which releases a good bulk of Steve Roach’s material. I also finally got to meet the maestro himself, which of course, was one of the best highlights of the whole trip! 

 

 

An unforgettable weekend experience that I enjoyed immensely from beginning to end, something tells me I’ll be back in Arizona well before too long, and hopefully, I’ll be seeing Roach in concert again in the near future as well! 

 



So naturally, since returning home I’ve been on a Steve Roach listening binge, which inspired me to compile a selection of just 10 of my favorite essential Roach albums released over the years that both cover a wide-range of ambient/electronic music styles he composes in, as well as includes some outstanding collaborations with other notable musicians in the field. For more information about Steve Roach and to comb through his extensive discography, please visit his website

 

         
         

Comments

Beth March 09, 2018 @02:03 pm
Terrific...it's nice to read about your music adventures, Candice...so much going on! Looking forward to meeting Steve Roach in New Orleans at the Zone Music Awards on May12th, a great opp for fans to meet him since it's a public event!
Eckart Buhler February 19, 2018 @08:32 am
Candice ! wonderful travelogue in word, picture and sound. Mimicked my journey from Jupiter Florida in 2005 hitting up Byron, Prescott, Steve and Tucson for an unforgettable experience, repeated often since. So many Roach favorites (I’ve been hooked since Structures From Silence in real time). Stand-out track of mine is: Big Medicine from Serpent’s Lair.
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