Concert Blast returned to Memphis, TN to cover the Memphis in May Beale Street Music Festival once again. This time the team consisted of Mike Arnold, Tom Thompson, and our stand in photographer and helper, Steve Shattuck.
Friday’s festivities included performances from Vol Beat, NeedToBreathe, Florence & the Machine, Megadeth, Evanescence, and Johnny Winter. Not only does this podcast include the performance clips and our commentary of the performances, but Mike also enjoyed talking with some of the fans in attendance. Enjoy the blog and podcast review!
Written by Mike Arnold
Tom Thomson, Steve Shattuck, and I arrived at Tom Lee Park in Memphis, made sure we had photo-pit pass privileges, got some snacks and drinks from the media trailer, and then headed out to the various stages on the media path.
The first stop of the night was to see the hard rockers from Denmark, Vol Beat. The approximately 3,000 in attendance at their stage were very excited and participated in singing along and repeating from the band’s instructions. We weren’t very familiar with their music, but many of our Concert Blast friends were as I kept receiving texts from the various fans about them.
After familiarizing ourselves with the three huge concert stages and the blues tent, we went to the stage to witness the performance of NeedToBreathe. I was a fan of their music, but I couldn’t imagine the energetic fun of their live performance. Now Tom, and Steve are big fans of NeedToBreathe also. They put on an excellent show with a great set list. They included a unique rocking version of Johnny Cash’s “Folson Prison Blues” and ended the concert with a portion of Lucinda William’s “Joy” while having everyone on drums with the exception of one guitar. The guys put on an excellent show for the approximate 5,000 in attendance. This performance was the pleasant surprise of the night!
Before the next act, I took some time to record some conversations with fans from the Memphis area as well as from Chicago, Mississippi, and Missouri.
Florence & the Machine was the next act to perform and the area became very crowded as the stage crew prepared the equipment for their set. The estimation of this crowd was approximately 10,000. When the band appeared on the stage, the crowd got very loud. Once Florence Welch walked out with her flowing outfit, the crowd went over the top with their screams of approval. Florence began the show by standing in one spot (center stage) singing to her thousands of fans. By the third song, she removed her shawl cover up and began running from side to side of the stage. Our photos from this show did not turn out too good due to the lighting factors.
We left this show to catch a portion of Megadeth. There were approximately 5,000 in attendance at their show, but those in attendance were huge fans of Megadeth. These fans knew every note and nearly every word that was produced from this classic metal band. This band was thankful and very appreciative to the fans. They were one of the few bands that received an encore at this festival. When they returned to the stage for their encore, they made a quick statement about this being an election year and asked the audience to do their part. They closed their show by performing “Holy Wars” to the approval of their fans!
It was now time to cover the act that Tom Thompson wanted to see during this festival, Evanescence. Tom decided to go to the photo pit to take the photos for this show. He loved being right in front of the stage (actually in front of Amy Lee) for the beginning of this concert. Amy and company took the stage to an estimated crowd of about 8,000 and this crowd was ready to enjoy the night with this band. Amy Lee’s vocal ability and energy shined throughout their performance, but when she sat down at the grand piano and performed the ballads, her voiced showed her melodic range. Amy said it wasn’t that long ago when they were in the crowd watching other bands at the Beale Street Music Festival. She added they were discovered while recording a session at Ardent Studios in Memphis. Unfortunately, just like Florence & the Machine, the lighting for Evanescence wasn’t the best for our cameras.
We usually don’t cover many acts in the Blues Tent, but this year one of our long-time favorites from the 70s was performing there, Johnny Winter. Johnny showed his age from the lack of his physical ability to perform standing. He sat on a stool during the entire performance, but still played his headless electric guitar like the master he’s always been. We were expecting a blues show (being in the blues tent), but Johnny performed several of the rock classics which he had always performed, “Gimmie Shelter”, “Bony Maronie”, and others, but he did throw in some blues numbers. I love Johnny’s playing, but I’ve never been a fan of him taking a 3 or 4 minute song and turning it into a 7 to 10 minute song. The people attending this show were having a great time. It’s not everyday when you get to see a legend perform in a tent that holds about 1,000 people.
That closed the end of the first day and we had a great time. The weather was perfect and the acts performed their best. Be sure to listen to the podcast to catch the recorded live clips, conversations with the fans, and of course our commentary. We want to thank those who helped us with the Kickstarter fundraiser campaign to allow us cut out a lot of our expenses. A very special thank you goes out to our top donors Vivian Johnson and Karen Weaver.
Written by Mike Arnold
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Tags: Beale Street Music Festival, blogs, Concert Photos, Evanesence, Florence and the Machine, Friday May 4, Johnny Winter, Megadeth, Memphis, Memphis in May, Memphis photos, Mike Arnold, music festivals, NeedToBreathe, Podcasts, reviews, Steve Shattuck, TN, Tom Thompson, Vol Beat