Baseball and Rock ’n Roll shared a successful weekend at the fifth Innings Festival at Tempe Beach Park, Arizona. It’s Spring training time in the southern part of the United States and the Innings Festival takes full advantage of the season to bring big name entertainers and MLB players to Phoenix. It was a weekend of fun and games with some wet, cool weather. There were many great musical offerings throughout the weekend for all to enjoy. Here are a few of the highlights.
Rockers, Green Day, headlined a sold out Saturday. After witnessing Green Day’s set at Innings Festival, one would be hard pressed to determine who was having more fun, the fans or lead singer Billy Joe Armstrong. It seemed as though all 24,000 fans were there to experience the Green Day set.
The crowd was chanting for their heroes as they held up multiple posters professing their love for Green Day in a frenzy of anticipation. The set opened with a recorded version of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
The fans sang along as the song played. That was followed by a recording of the Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop” in which the only “performer” onstage was the Drunk Bunny: a dude in a bunny suit, whose presence has been a part of Green Day concerts for many years.
Armstrong took the stage to begin 90-minutes of a hit-filled spectacle that earned all of the fist-pumping, dancing and crowd-surfing it could summon. The set began with “American Idiot,” “Holiday,” and “Know Your Enemy,” establishing a high bar the group managed to capture throughout the show. The only cover song of the night was KISS’ “Rock and Roll All Night.” It would have probably been better to fill the slot with another Green Day hit song.
Other than the obligatory shout out to Phoenix and the surrounding areas, Armstrong kept the chatter to a minimum. The set ended with “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life),” Bets are that the majority of the fans had the time of their life.
The Black Crowes
Several acts earlier in the day had their merits. The Black Crowes’ lead singer, Chris Robinson, had all the swagger of Mick Jagger in his heyday. His mic stand barely hit the floor as he made it his instrument of choice throughout the set. His voice wasn’t bad either.
Both Chris and Rich Robinson are the only original members of the band from the 80s. Brother Rich stood stage left churning out great guitar riffs. Chris’ animation throughout the set was mesmerizing The set highlight was their rendition of Otis Redding’s “Hard to Handle.”
The Offspring is probably the longest running band on the day’s roster going back 39 years. The lineup has changed considerably over the years.
They started their set with 1994’s “Come Out and Play” that earned them their first major hit in the 90s. Their hit album Smash propelled punk rock into the mainstream selling over 11 million copies. The Offspring’s influence persists today.
Dexter Holland and Noodles vied for the crowd’s attention as they plowed through many of their hits like “Staring at the Sun,” “Gotta Get Away,” and “Self Esteem.”
Even though Mumford was minus his”sons,” he played acoustic versions of songs that he recorded with Mumford and Sons. Many of the songs by the band were written by Mumford. He has recently released a critically acclaimed solo album entitled Self-Titled. As an introspective album, It includes “Cannibal”, a song Mumford wrote in January 2021 about his personal struggles.
Mumford’s band joined him on stage after the first two acoustic songs. Many of the songs in the set were from his recent album including “Grace” and “Better Off High.” He covered a Taylor Swift’s “Cowboy Like Me.” One of the best songs from the new album performed was “Dangerous Game.”
It sticks in your mind, and witnessing it live seemed to have an energy that elevated it to another plain with Mumford’s piercing voice highlighting the chorus.
Vedder headlined the Innings Festival in 2019. This set had a similar structure as his previous set. Vedder is a baseball fan and had spent time earlier in the day taking the stage with Baseball pitcher, Ryan Dempster. He talked about how much he loves spring training. “It’s such a cool part of the year when all the opportunities are open, everything seems possible, it’s infectious.” It was a full day for for the Pearl Jam rocker.
Vedder released a new solo album in 2022, Earthling. However none of the songs performed in the set were from the album. There were plenty of Pearl Jam songs with a cover of The Beatles’ “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away”and Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.”
Vedder had many stories to tell fans during his set. and made jokes with several thousands of fans as if everyone was in his living room. He shared his enthusiasm for the local Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix particularly the ukulele exhibit
There was plenty of comic relief. After smashing a ukulele Townshend-style because it wasn’t working right, he said, “I might need another one.” Then after having to stop the song he was playing on a second ukulele because he hit a wrong chord, Vedder laughed as he said, “I wanna smash this one, too.” His anecdotes were half the fun and elevated the experience to something more than a headlining festival gig.
The music was great throughout the set, from opening with “Elderly Woman Behind the Countering a Small Town” through his harmonica driven rendition of “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away.” He closed the set with “Rockin’ in the Free World.”
The Travel Addict can’t wait to be in Tampa for the second Inning Festival and do it all again with another stellar lineup of bands!
Words and Photo Coverage By Mary Andrews