Tuesday, October 27, 2009

trrish and Dagny's excellent adventure - The Black-Eyed Peas, U2 and the Beatles Love.

My experience at the Las Vegas show was colored by the situation with the seats. I was going with a civilian, if you will; my 15 year old daughter. It takes her so long to straighten her hair that we were lucky to get to the show at all (just kidding, D :-) I knew that GA tickets weren't gonna work for us, so I went with seats. The seats I bought were, according to the original seating chart I saw, non-GA seats in front of the stage, 7th row. It turned out they were really in back of the stage. But, it was supposed to be "360" and everything I had read said the stage was going to rotate around so that the behind the stage seats were going to be as good as anywhere else. So I kept them.

Not true. I don't know if their 360 stage didn't meet their expectations or if there was just bad information out there. They rotated Larry and the drumkit twice for the equivalent of maybe a song. Bono come back to see us three times, for about 10 seconds each time. I think the Edge came back three times as well. But that isn't what you really want. You want to see the band, playing together. Or at least I do.

One of the things they did was put all the sound equipment in the legs of the'big claw' stage that they built. So that was supposed to open up the back of the stage. But it didn't really - if Bono was singing from the front of the stage, you couldn't see him from behind it. Really, all you could see was the drummer. The video screen was 360, I'll give them that.

It was a good show - The Black Eyed Peas were entertaining. This was only the 3rd show, I think, that they had done with U2. They certainly were not used to
the stage and taking advantage of it. Taboo had to drag Fergie down to wave to our section at the very end of the show.

Bono was funny and the three times he did come back to see us, it was thrilling. He has star power, and you can feel it from 50 ft away, even if you are Dagny and don't know the band that well. They incorporated some things like an astronaut from the space station reciting some lyrics, and the usual ONE organization promo, etc. There were some good musical moments - 'Stand by Me' and 'Viva Las Vegas' in the middle of 'Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For'. Complete with Elvis impersonation. David Bowie's "Space Oddity" had kicked things off. We enjoyed being there.

I get what they were trying to do with the 360 thing. I don't think they achieved it. I allow for the possibility that for others, it might have been a different experience. It was very interesting to see the stage setup closeup -we were very close to the back of the stage, and the back staircase. All 4 members of U2 made their final exit from the stage down that staircase, so we got a really good glimpse of them at that moment. That was very cool.

Afterwards, we stayed around and watched all the hired local labor, regular crew and trucks start the breakdown. What an enormous task. They had something like 150 trailer trucks.

I don't know what U2 fans are saying - I don't frequent their boards. I wonder if my opinion is completely a minority one. I guess I don't feel like the tradeoff was worth it. For the cost, the environmental impact, etc, I don't know if there was enough benefit. It didn't seem that much different to me than the U2 show Ozzie and I saw in Denver a few years ago. For the past few tours, they have paid a lot of attention to getting themselves out into the crowd and taking turns performing for behind the stage. They can sell more tickets with this setup, although I'm not sure those extra ticketholders are as happy as others. I have a sense that, with the low sales of their recent album, they are trying to boost their sales and popularity back up. Which is fine.

Sam Boyd Stadium is kind of a nightmare. It's the UNLV football stadium. It took about 2 hours to get out of the parking lot after the show. No exaggerating.

All that said, D and I had a good time together. I remember swearing off stadium shows way back in the late 80's (hmmm, I wonder what tour might have prompted that...). I think I have re-sworn off of them, again. It's a good reason to keep on finding 'smaller' bands and artists that I like - Wilco, Fountains of Wayne, the Dead Weather, etc. Seeing a band in a little joint or at Red Rocks or even an arena is much more satisfying somehow.

One of the other things we did while we were there was see the Beatles Love show. That was unbelievably great. I can't believe it has taken me three years to get to see it. I guess I was originally put off by the high ticket prices. I learned that you can get discounts, and that there is not a bad seat in the house. I will be going back to see it again and again. I absolutely loved it. The sound system is flawless - it's the sound system I always was trying to create in my living room with my Vandersteens and Magnaplaners but never quite did. If you are into the Beatles, you need to see that show if you have not. If this was a Beatles' list, I'd write another 6 paragraphs about it. I had a pretty strong emotional reaction to the show. What a great job they did putting it all together.

Part of my 50th birthday trip to Vegas was about "trrish making peace with Las Vegas".

I had wanted to make my peace with Vegas because of a number of things. One being 2002, of course. I went there in June of 2002 for the first night of the Who tour. John
Entwistle died the night before the show. There was a wealth of emotions during that particular trip - some pretty heavy experiences that weekend. Subsequent trips to Vegas were hard because of the ghosts of that 2002 trip. That weekend had been traumatic, and yet also full of connection. I was there a few times for work conferences after 2002. I hated being there without Who friends. It felt lonely. No one I was there with could really understand that. I stayed at the Hard Rock once or twice just to maintain that connection with the past.

I hadn't stopped drinking completely, yet, and had some rough times because of that. I won't go into the gory details, but there are some bad memories. I decided I hated Las Vegas.

But there are also some very good memories. I felt like I needed to come full circle and heal - make my peace with it. This time, I got up the first morning and drove over to Trader Joe's, my favorite store in the world. I was really happy to be there. I realized that I don't hate Vegas. What I hate is walking along the strip, particularly at night. There's too much crass selling of sex, and too many drunk guys, and drunk idiots in general. Granted, I used to be one of the drunk idiots. I suppose I don't like being reminded of my bad times. I'm not a gambler, and I don't like the casinos floors - they are otherworldly to me - the sounds of the machines, the lack of natural light, the feeling that it is always 2 in the morning. I'm on a strict diet because of MS, and I can't eat 90% of the food that is around.

So I made a point to get outside and do normal things, find food that I can eat, be out in the sun. Went to the older part of downtown to meet up with my brother, who drove out from LA. That part of town is a little more manageable for me. He came to see the Beatles show with us, and we all ate dinner at one of our favorite restaurants - Mon Ami Gabi at "Paris." You haven't been to "Paris" until you've gone with my brother, Eric, who does a great faux French accent, in honor of being in Faux Paris.

Being there with Dagny was healing. It was helpful to talk through a lot of things with her. I was able to embrace the drunks, not literally, happily, and the other stuff
and look past it. Las Vegas is a town full of the best and the worst of human behavior. Watching drunk guys make cat calls at my daughter was challenging! My daughter is very wise and I enjoyed spending so much time with her.

It all led up to seeing Love and experiencing all the passion that went into it. For me, it felt like the next step in the evolution of what the Beatles were. This show was meant to exist, and it gives the music another life. George and Giles Martin were brilliant with what they did with the music. And the Cirque people were equally brilliant with what they did with the sound, the staging, choreography, lighting and props. And the theater!! It's the former Siegfield and Roy theater, completely redone.

It's gonna be hard to keep me away from that show. If you are looking for me in Boulder and can't find me, you might check the Mirage hotel....


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