The appeal of tribute bands is an illusion: the illusion that you’re watching one of the biggest music acts in the world perform some of your favorite songs live. In some cases, it’s not possible to see the real deal anymore because the bands are broken up or the players are dead; in other cases, the originals are still touring and the bands are like guitars crossing in the night (Def Leppard plays the Valley the same week as DL tribute band Pyromania), and in some cases, the originals take issue with their tributes -- like litigious Metallica, whose lawyers sent a 41-page cease-and-desist-or-we-will-sue-you letter to one of their tribute bands, called Sandman, for using the band’s name and lettering style in their logo.
Not every tribute band is good. Some could be considered downright insulting to the object of their homages. But maybe that just makes the truly terrific tribute bands worth seeing even more. Here are five very fine tribute bands playing Phoenix in the coming months.
Pyromania (Def Leppard tribute): Sept. 2-3 at Casino Arizona
This Huntington Beach-based band is so good, they count Def Leppard among their fans. From the songs to the stage clothes to the hairdos, Pyromania is a pretty picture-perfect picture (or “Photograph,” if you will) of the British hard rock band. Both of these shows are expected to sell out. (The real Def Leppard will roar through town on Sept. 9, rocking Ak-Chin Pavilion.) Expect to hear: “Pour Some Sugar on Me” and “Rock of Ages.” $10-$15. 7:30 p.m. Sept. 2-3 at Casino Arizona. defleppardtribute.com
Don’t Look Back (Boston tribute): Sept. 23-24 at Casino Arizona
It’s hard to hit the high notes of late Boston singer Brad Delp, but the vocalist for Don’t Look Back does a darn good job, and even rocks some shaggy 1970s hair (the drummer’s afro wig, on the other hand, is funky in a not-so-groovy way). Expect to hear: “More than a Feeling” and “Amanda.” $10-$15. 7:30 p.m. Sept. 23-24 at Casino Arizona. bostontributeband.com
Get the Led Out (Led Zeppelin tribute): Sept. 25 at Chandler Center for the Arts
If you need cooling, they’re not fooling – “the American Led Zeppelin” isn’t so much a tribute band as it is a cover band/orchestra. They seek to recreate Led Zep’s studio recordings on stage, which requires a much larger ensemble than a quartet. So don’t expect your eyes to be fooled. But your ears will be delighted. Expect to hear: “Stairway to Heaven” and “Whole Lotta Love.” $22-$36. 7 p.m. Sept. 25 at Chandler Center for the Arts. gtlorocks.com
Black Sabbath are widely considered the godfathers of heavy metal music, and Mac Sabbath – founders of “Drive-Thru Metal” -- takes its tribute/parody to the most metal level possible by incorporating icons of pure evil (fast food) and the stuff of childhood nightmares (clowns). Rock ‘n’ McRoll. (The real Black Sabbath can be observed on Sept. 21, striking chords of doom at Ak-Chin Pavilion.) Expect to hear: “Sweet Beef” (“Sweet Leaf”) and “Frying Pan” (“Iron Man”). $15-$17. 8 p.m. Oct. 18 at Crescent Ballroom. facebook.com/macsabbath
The Fab Four (Beatles tribute): Jan. 20, 2017 at Mesa Arts Center
Yes, January seems like a long time from now, but we would only recommend the best tribute band for the biggest band in the world, The Beatles. California-based Fab Four has been playing all the hits by the lads from Liverpool since 1997, and after long-running gigs at Disneyland and in Las Vegas, have taken their show back on the road. Expect to hear: the bulk of mid-‘60s Beatles hits. $29.50-$54.50. 8 p.m. Jan. 20, 2017 at Mesa Arts Center. thefabfour.com
Pictured: Pyromania, top (photo by arpiphoto.com); Mac Sabbath, bottom
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