Sweetest Thing: L.A.vation makes its mark as U2 tribute act

L.A.vation, a U2 tribute band, will perform some of U2’s greatest hits and then some at Casino Arizona on Friday, August 19, and Saturday, August 20. (L.A.vation/Submitted)

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

Bart Davis and the rest of the U2 tribute band L.A.vation were in Holland in 2012 when they decided on a whim to head to Paris for a photo shoot near the Eiffel Tour.

“It was raining cats and dogs,” Davis says.

“We walked up to the plaza, and the rain stopped and the sun came out. It was an amazing shot. As soon as we posted that to our website and people started to look at it, we had calls from Mexico, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Romania, Belgium. All of a sudden, this stuff started happening. It was really organic.”

In between return trips to France and Belgium, L.A.vation will play Casino Arizona on Friday, August 19, and Saturday, August 20.

“We’ve been playing Casino Arizona since 2013, so this will be nine years,” says Davis, of San Pedro, California.

“We’ve created a nice little following in Arizona. It’s a great showroom.”

The show covers the whole of U2’s career, including about 10 hits and then other tracks.

“We basically play something from all of their albums — just not necessarily at every show. We find people come to hear the songs they know and love and can sing along to.

“It’s a pretty easy equation. We also like to play hidden gems. On a 90-minute show like Casino Arizona, we’ll stick mostly to the hits.”

Those kinds of sets, Davis says, are perfect for U2 fans.

“We bring them back to a time that’s nostalgic,” Davis says.

“The band’s been around for 40 years. Fans know all of those songs that mark times in their lives, maybe high school, college, got married, moved out, whatever.”

Davis says he feels the same way. He moved from Northern California to Hermosa Beach for guitar school. He and his roommates drove in a Datsun pick-up truck to Santa Barbara to surf. The soundtrack? U2’s “The Unforgettable Fire.”

“We were listening to ‘Bad,’ ‘Pride (In the Name of Love)’ — all the famous songs off that album,” he says.

“Now, when I play those songs, they take me right back to that ride up to Santa Barbara in 1985. It’s crystal clear. It’s locked in my memory.”

Those memories bring U2 fans together, he adds.

“Wherever we go, that band and that music seem to cross all of the international borders, the color lines, the political lines, any line you can name. It brings people together.

“We really embrace that wholeheartedly, and it’s worked really, really well for us.” 

L.A.vation: A Tribute to U2

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday, August 19, and Saturday, August 20

WHERE: Casino Arizona, 524 N. 92nd Street, Scottsdale

COST: Tickets start at $10

INFO: 480-850-7777, casinoarizona.com