There’s a lot to choose from in the Star Wars universe (one might even say the market has become “saturated”); but if you look carefully enough, you might just find something worth investing your time in. Such is the case with Obi-Wan Kenobi, a dream come true for fans of the series who have always wondered about the title characters’ most secluded years on Tatoonie.
Ewan McGregor returns nearly two decades later since last portraying the role of Kenobi in Episodes I-III, and it’s as if he never left. Long story short, he is thrust into helping a young Princess Leia (Vivien Lyra Blair) after she is captured, then escapes, from the Galactic Empire. This forces him into uses his long-suppressed Jedi powers while fighting off new foes from the Empire like Reva Sevander (Moses Ingram), and ultimately coming face-to-face with his former apprentice Anakin Skywalker for the first time since their battle in Episode III that transformed him into Darth Vadar (Hayden Christensen also returns in the role, with the legendary James Earl Jones voicing the character once again as well).
There’s a few other appearances that fans should also enjoy, such as the return of Jimmy Smits to the franchise, and even a small role from Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea. But chances are if none of what I just mentioned made any sense to you, then this show is most likely not going to be your cup of tea. But if these characters have been embedded in your life since birth as they have been for myself, you’re likely to eat it up, too.
I was initially hesitant when I first heard Ozzy Osbourne would be releasing another album so soon after 2020’s OrdinaryMan, feeling it might be on the “rushed” side. But it doesn’t take a genius to recognize greatness when they hear it, and that’s exactly what’s achieved with (most of) Patient Number 9.
From the moment the title track/first single kicks into high gear, it’s apparent the Prince of Darkness has still got it, crooning through seven minutes of epic proportions. From then on, the Ozzman channels his best John Lennon impression (“One of Those Days,” “God Only Knows”) to echoing back to his days in Black Sabbath (“Evil Shuffle,” “No Escape From Now,” Degradation Rules” – the latter two each featuring former Sabbath band mate and godfather of the metal guitar, Tony Iommi). But it’s when Ozzy dives deep that’s most interesting; “Nothing Feels Right” and “Dead and Gone” might just go down as a couple of my personal favorites here.
Aside from Iommi, there’s an array of other star musicians that guest here, including longtime axeman to Ozzy’s solo band Zakk Wylde, and legendary guitarists like Eric Claption and Jeff Beck. Bass parts are rounded out by Metallica’s Robert Trujillo and Duff McKagan of Guns N’ Roses, while drum duties are handled by Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and late Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins in what may now be his final recorded performance.
But getting back to the music, Patient Number 9 delivers on all accounts as both a rock record, and an Ozzy album, filled with heavy menancing riffs, and plenty of catchy hooks. Surprisingly, there’s not even a lot of filler found here, either. At seventy-four years old, Ozzy shows he’s still got it after all these years, and I’m just thankful to still be able to witness it.
In 2017, I was able to photograph the Red Hot Chili Peppers at the Amway Center in Orlando for another magazine I was writing for at the time. It was a flawless experience, and I walked away with some of my personal favorite concert shots I have ever captured. Knowing that former guitarist John Frusciante – who was absent from the lineup at said show five years ago – was back in the fold, had me even more excited to see the band again.
But a series of unfortunate personal events overshadowed the band’s recent Orlando show at Camping World Stadium this past Thursday, September 15. Beginning with…the photo pass. While I thought I had firmly secured one to shoot the band at least a good month before the show, I came to find out shortly prior that my request was never actually submitted. Strike one.
Then, the actual day of the show, while en route to it (in the pouring rain nonetheless) with the family, our vehicle decided to start overheating and eventually stall out on us completely. That was strike number two.
And lastly, even after having a friend of the family give us a ride and arranging towing all the same, we still had to wait nearly two hours in the car after arriving to the stadium thanks to the thunderstorms that continued to rage and delay the outdoor show from starting on time. That was absolutely strike number three of the night, and might have been enough to turn some people around.
Once we finally arrived and got to our seats (soaked mind you), everything we had endured up to that point slowly became worth it. Opening the stage was bass master Stephen “Thundercat” Brunner, who simply goes by the moniker Thundercat these days. I was lucky enough to not only see him perform on stage with Suicidal Tendencies in 2010 and even meet him afterwards (see attached photo below). Gracing the stage with a huge cat head on the stage behind him, Brunner went through his best licks possible with a quickness, playing a handful of songs and solos before exiting.
Early 2000’s brooding rockers The Strokes followed, and were another act on the bill I was looking forward to seeing (in this case for the first time). But their sped-up, six song set didn’t leave a lot to the imagination, and it just felt as though the band was being rushed off stage as they went through tracks like “The Modern Age,” “Bad Decisions,” “Under Control,” “Juicebox,” “The Adults Are Talking,” and of course their most popular hit to date, “Last Nite.”
And finally, the Chili Peppers took stage well after the ten o’clock hour, and played what felt like an exhausting-ly long set that lasted well over an hour and a half, starting with an onstage jam that just included Frusciante, bassist Flea, and drummer Chad Smith, before frontman Anthony Kiedis joined the rest of the guys for a hyped up rendition of “Around the World.”
The group wasted no time giving the audience what they came for, playing an onslaught of hits both new and old from then on out in the form of “Dani California,” “Scar Tissue,” “Aquatic Mouth Dance,” “Snow ((Hey Oh))” and “These Are the Ways.”
One of my personal favorite moments came when they slowed things down and the rest of the guys stepped aside to allow Frusciante a moment to perform “I Remember You” by the Ramones with nothing more than his voice and guitar. It was a touching moment and fitting tribute to the band’s late guitarist Johnny Ramone, who had passed away exactly eighteen years prior on September 15, 2004.
While this seemed to confuse a good portion of the crowd, I enjoyed it much more than the following forgettable new track from the band, “Wet Sand.” But the guys quickly got back on track, playing a couple of numbers absent from their set the last time I saw them; “Soul to Squeeze” from 1993’s Coneheads film and soundtrack, and “Me and My Friends” going all the way back to 1987’s The Uplift Mofo Party Plan album (as far as they reached in their early repertoire).
By the time the band reached tracks like “Throw Away Your Television,” “Tell Me Baby,” “The Heavy Wing,” “Black Summer,” “Californication,” and “Give it Away,” (with another solo from Flea thrown in there for good measure) I had heard more than enough Chili Peppers music live to honestly last a lifetime. But we stuck with it until the band reappeared for an encore of “By the Way,” a decent enough track, but not really what comes to mind when I think of a “closer.”
Despite all of the setbacks and issues we encountered on the way, I’d say the fact we were able to still even make it was a success, and I know my teenaged son was thrilled to not only see them for the first time, but also get his first official tour shirt that night. And special thanks to local photographer Bailey Guinigundo, whose live shots made this article so much more special than it possibly could have been without them. And to our friend Kurt for coming to the rescue with a ride (without that none of it could have been possible). Thanks again guys!
Like many, I got into the Red Hot Chili Peppers “back in the day” at the peak of their mainstream success in the early ’90s. But when their sound started changing and becoming more mellow by 1999’s Californication album, I began losing interest…at least until I finally saw the band live in 2017 that is, and my faith in them was more or less restored.
Unlimited Love is not only the band’s twelfth studio album, but their first with former guitarist John Frusciante since 2006’s Stadium Arcadium, and having his energy back in the fold is a definite asset to the band’s sound. With Frusciante back in tow, the guys offer up seventeen new tracks and some of their best work in years here.
We were first introduced to the album via the single “Black Summer” in early February, and said track also kicks off the collection of songs here. Along the way there’s plenty of funky numbers (“She’s a Lover,” “Whatchu Thinkin'”) and just straight cool tracks (“Here Ever After,” “The Heavy Wing,” “Tangelo”), with really only a couple of duds (“It’s Only Natural,” “Veronica”) thrown in. Also worth checking out is the new video for latest single “These Are the Ways,” which finds frontman Anthony Kiedis fleeing from cops in a wild, fast-paced chase through various suburban settings.
This is the album that this band has needed to record and release for some time now; not perfect, but just strong enough to bring a waning fan such as myself back into a category that finds me caring about their music again.