Beatles – LOVE (Cirque du Soleil): 1/28/2018

This is the third and final show that my wife and I saw on our Las Vegas trip. Lots of people had raved about how great the show is, and since I had never seen a cirque du soleil performance before, I figured it was something worth checking out. It definitely lived up to all the hype and my expectations.

My initial impression of cirque du soleil is that it was amazing, visually stunning, but somewhat disorienting. So much was happening at the same time that it was a veritable assault on the senses. I did not know which way to look, and frequently felt like I was missing something. But everything that my eyes did take in was beautifully choreographed and executed with brilliant precision.

The music of the Beatles really lends itself well to this kind of performance. Songs like “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite” and “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” were interpreted beautifully, as were all the other pieces. There was nothing weak, and my only disappointment was that I wished it would go on longer. I enjoyed losing myself in the phantasmagoria of sight and sound, and really did not want to return to reality.

After this show, I was done with Vegas. Personally, I have no desire to ever go back there. The shows I saw were great, but the city really has nothing else to offer, since I don’t drink and work way too hard to gamble my money away. But I’m glad I went, and saw the shows I did, and am able to check Vegas off the bucket list.

Santana: 1/27/2018

This show was on our first full day in Las Vegas. My wife and I had arrived the night before and managed to squeeze in seeing Cher at the Park Theater, but Santana was the show we had tickets for well in advance and we were both really looking forward to seeing Carlos in a small venue.

The House of Blues is located in the Mandalay Bay Hotel, which is on the other side of the Strip from where we were staying. Since we had the entire day to kill, we decided to walk the Strip, stop in to a couple casinos, and take in the sights. We did the Venetian, Caesar’s Palace, the Bellagio, and the MGM. There was no shortage of interesting people-watching. We played some games–won a little and lost a little. We were even informed by some caring individuals that we were all going to Hell.

We got to the Mandalay Bay well before showtime, so we decided to eat at the buffet. What a waste! It was mediocre at best, and certainly not worth the price they were charging. For all the talk about the amazing buffets in Vegas, I’m thinking people must be really drunk when they go there, because honestly, it was pretty weak.

Anyway, after dinner, we walked through the veil of tobacco smoke that hung in the casino and got to the House of Blues. We had general admission tickets, which put us in a small pit at the front, very close to the stage. I could have paid more for seats, but Santana is dancing music, and why spend more to sit farther back when I can be closer and able to dance. It was a no-brainer.

The band came out a little after 8:00 and kicked the show off with “Soul Sacrifice.” A perfect opener, in my humble opinion. Then they went right into “Jingo,” and it was just one great jam after another for the rest of the night. At 70 years old, Carlos looked healthy and his guitar playing was as tasteful as ever. And his band was really tight—three drummers and two singers who also played hand percussion instruments, so the rhythms were incredible.

Even after being on my feet for the entire day, I was totally energized by the music and had no problem dancing for the entire show. What a treat to see Carlos up close in such an intimate setting.

Here is the full setlist.

Setlist:

  • Soul Sacrifice
  • Jingo
  • Evil Ways
  • A Love Supreme
  • Watoto Nyada
  • Primavera
  • Black Magic Woman / Gypsy Queen
  • Oye Como Va
  • Samba Pa Ti
  • Wishing It Was
  • Taboo
  •  Total Destruction
  •  Then Came You
  • Maria Maria
  • Corazon Espinado
  • Foo Foo
  • Carlos Jam > Cindy Solo
  • Smooth
  • Love, Peace and Happiness
  • For the Highest Good

Cher: 1/26/2018

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, unless it is seeing Cher. That’s definitely worth sharing (pun intended).

I had never been to Las Vegas; it was just not something that appealed to me. But when my wife said she was going there for a conference and asked if I was interested in going with her to check it out, I figured why not. I reckoned I could see a few shows and then check Vegas off my bucket list. I looked online for shows and saw that Santana was playing the House of Blues on Saturday, January 27, so I bought tickets for that (thoughts on that show coming soon). Anyway, a couple days before we were to fly out there, I checked again to see what other shows might be of interest, and I discovered Cher was playing too! The caveat was that it was Friday night, the night we arrived, and it would be very tight trying to make it. I figured I would hold off on buying tickets, and see if the stars aligned.

Our flight was scheduled to land at 6:00 pm, but actually landed a little early. We got our bags without a hitch, caught a Super Shuttle, and were at the hotel by 7:00. We quickly checked in, dropped bags in the room, and caught a cab in front of the hotel. We got to the Park Theater at the Monte Carlo with time to spare, bought a couple tickets from the box office, and were in our seats well before the curtains came up. The stars had aligned!

What can I say about the show? At 71, Cher still looks and sounds amazing. The stage show was over-the-top, but I kind of expected that from a Vegas show. Video screens, floats, dancers and acrobats: it was the whole shebang. And I had forgotten just how many hits Cher had. It was like a journey through the past. Everything was perfectly choreographed, sound was great; there was nothing weak about this show at all. High points for me were “Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves,” and “I Got You Babe,” where Cher sang along with a synchronized video of Sonny. It was quite moving.

I can’t imagine that Cher would do a full tour again, but you never know. That said, if you are in Vegas and have a chance to see her, I highly recommend it. Even if you are not a huge fan of her music, she puts on a great show, and is definitely a musical and pop culture icon.

Here’s the setlist.

Setlist:

  • Woman’s World
  • Strong Enough
  • All or Nothing
  • The Beat Goes On
  • All I Really Want to Do
  • I Got You Babe
  • Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves
  • Dark Lady
  • Half-Breed
  • Welcome to Burlesque
  • Take Me Home
  • After All
  • Walking in Memphis
  • The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s in His Kiss)
  • I Found Someone
  • If I Could Turn Back Time

Encore:

  • Believe

Tom Petty: 7/25/1987

When I heard that the great Tom Petty passed away today (10/2/2017), while we were all still reeling from the massacre at the concert in Las Vegas the night before, all I could do was shuffle through some old stubs until I found one from Petty. I saw him a couple times, and he was great each time. This particular show was a triple bill, with Tom Petty, the Georgia Satellites, and the Del Fuegos. I have fuzzy memories of this show, but I recall distinctly how much I enjoyed it. Unfortunately, I could not find a setlist online. After 30 years, the details are gone, but I know I was happy with the set.

Tom was a great musician and songwriter. He will be sorely missed. I am certain he has briskly ascended to Rock and Roll Heaven.

RIP Tom!