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Show Review: Cage the Elephant’s Neon Pill Tour blazes through Phoenix

Arizonans commiserate about the heat every year but Friday’s show at Talking Stick Resort Amphitheater was a real scorcher. Cage the Elephant’s Neon Pill Tour persisted through the blazing temperatures to bring one of the best lineups of the summer to a very brave crowd of fans. 

Willow Avalon and Bakar opened the evening as the sun slowly started to dip below the horizon. Avalon’s early set had plenty of Southern charm mixed with healthy feminine rage for a performance that utterly endeared her to the growing audience. English indie rocker Bakar was the second opener of the night and filled the stage with fog and striking lights to put the spotlight firmly on him. The crowd was thrilled with his upbeat energy and kept the love flowing throughout his set.

The sun went down at the perfect moment and the venue breathed a sigh of relief as Young the Giant emerged into the twilight. The band has perfected the art of making their audiences feel everything all at once and that was especially true with this beautifully curated setlist. “The Walk Home” and the iconic “Cough Syrup” kicked things off but there was plenty of space for dancing later with “Heat of the Summer” and “It’s About Time”. 

Singer Sameer Gadhia revealed that the band was not planning a summer tour but getting a chance to hit the road with their friends in Cage the Elephant was an amazing opportunity to bring out some deep cuts for the setlist. Longtime fans were thrilled at this news and jammed along from the pit to the lawn. The abbreviated set closed with “Tightrope”, “Silvertongue” and- of course- “My Body” to get everyone properly warmed up for the spectacle that is Cage the Elephant.

Cage the Elephant pulled out all the stops for this tour, shooting flames into the air and heating up the amphitheater even more in the very first notes of “Broken Boy”. The band is out in support of their newest album but they have a massive catalog to pull from and they gave the crowd everything they could possibly ask for in a set. 

Singer Matt Shultz was a one man hurricane across the stage, weaving between the fire and brandishing his mic stand as the band whipped through “Cold Cold Cold”, “Mess Around” and “Neon Pill”, the title track of the new album. The audience was bombarded with a wall of lights, sounds and even a wild laser show as the band’s production became more monumental with every song. 

The whole place was already on their feet but the jam session continued in earnest for “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” before the last few songs of the main set culminated in “House of Glass”. Naturally the band returned for an energetic encore of fan favorites and classics- “Cigarette Daydreams” and “Come a Little Closer” among them. It was a rough start to an amazing night at the amphitheater but the fans were in agreement as they left the venue- a lineup this good is worth the sweltering heat every single time.