(April 18-20, 2009)
By Janice Jennings
NEWSLINE: Paul McCartney Sells Out THE JOINT in Seven Seconds!
Wow! Was I one of the lucky 4000 to acquire a ticket? Well, no. So when I received an email from Liverpool Productions offering a weekend full of Beatlesque things to see PLUS the concert, I was dialing the phone before I finished reading. Having participated in previous Liverpool Tours' excursions, I knew this would be a well-organized event.
The weekend festivities called for hotel reservations to be within close proximity to the Hard Rock properties, whereas normally, we would stay somewhere on "The Strip". We were booked at the newly-renovated Terrible's Hotel & Casino, though I never learned the origin of the name. After checking in on Saturday, April 18th, we were to meet in front of the V Theater in the Miracle Mile shops at Planet Hollywood.
Originally planned as a small group of twelve, this quickly became 20. By the time we were meeting together, we had grown to a classroom size of 35. Arriving from all over the North American continent, there were fans from AL, AZ, CA, CT, GA, IA, IL, LA, MA, PA, TX, UT, WI, Canada and Mexico. We were easy to spot, everyone was wearing some type of Beatles attire. Our host, Charles F. Rosenay!!!, handed out packets with coupons, tickets to the LOVE production, and those very special concert tickets.
Once assembled, Mick, the manager for the Fab Four Live show, led us inside the theater. We were seated as a group just off from the stage. The show opens with an Ed Sullivan impersonator introducing The Beatles, just like on television, only this is live. The lads perform several songs from different eras as they trace The Beatles' career. Sets of songs are divided by the addition of Austin Powers, a guru, and two go-go dancers. The production is well done and provides the audience with great entertainment. Afterwards, our group was invited to meet the Fab Four Live and have a group photo.
To save time, Liverpool Productions arranged for us to board a custom Fab Four Live mini-bus to quickly whisk us away to The Mirage Hotel & Casino. The next stop was the STACK Restaurant located inside the casino. Our meal was included in the tour package. Whether you chose the steak, chicken, or the pasta, everything was delicious. Some ordered Hot Rocks as an appetizer. Interesting concept where the bite-size food is cooked while it lays across an extremely hot rock. We were in very good company at this fancy restaurant. Paul's guitarist, Brian Ray, was also eating dinner at STACK.
Just as we were leaving the restaurant, the doors were opening for the Cirque du Soleil production of The Beatles LOVE. By far, and no prejudice here, this is the BEST Cirque production in Vegas....okay, maybe a bit prejudice. After all, the show is fully based upon and inspired by The Beatles' music and their careers. From the moment you hear the first chord of 'Because,' to the last note of 'All You Need is Love' two hours later, you sit in amazement. It is difficult to admit the show is over and you must leave the theater. Fortunately, the LOVE gift shop is right next door and you can savor your memories further by purchasing mementos. And we did. Just outside the gift shop, my husband recognized Hassan, who plays the very limber and tattooed Walrus in the production. We spoke with him for a few moments and took photos. Brian Ray was also at the LOVE show, and on the way out, several members of our group were able to meet him.
The Revolution Lounge is located nearby and it entices everyone to enter for more good times to be shared with The Beatles atmosphere. The time? Only midnight, the night is young!
There were no additional planned activities for Sunday except the concert. This left the day open for those who wanted to queue-up and wait for the show, go sight-seeing on The Strip, gamble or shop. Early Sunday morning, a small group of us walked to the Hard Rock to get in line for the concert. It was very close to make trips back to our hotel if needed. With a pillow, book, granola bars and water, I was prepared to wait the duration of the day for the concert.
Fans were creating a line on the sidewalk around the front of the casino. Since the capacity of The Joint had been doubled, and Paul was 'reopening' the venue, it seemed that security and management was unprepared for the amount of fans gathering around the building. After a few hours, the event planning coordinator decided to give out numbered wristbands. This would allow the fans to get out of the blazing hot sun, and it would free-up the entrance to the casino. We were to return to the appointed place at 5pm and line-up according to our wristbands.
My husband and I chose to spend the entire afternoon inside Caesar's and have lunch at Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill. We returned to the Hard Rock at 4:30pm. A large group of fans were waiting at the backstage entrance for a chance to see or meet Paul. I went to the front to check the line. No one was there. However, I noticed the event planner off to the side, so I went to confirm the camera policy. Small, non-professional cameras were allowed. This was very good news. But bags and purses larger than 8 ½ x 11 inches were not. While learning this bit of news, an entourage of SUVs pulled up to the side entrance where I was standing. Surely not, this could not be Paul! And, it wasn't. It was Snoop Dog. He was appearing at the Hard Rock's pool with their REHAB promotion.
I went back to the area for the line and waited. Familiar faces began to arrive from the morning vigil. The line continued to grow and grow. Around 6pm, we were escorted into the casino. A walkway had been roped around the inside perimeter. Time progressed as late-comers squeezed into the already formed line. Some 100 concert-goers who purchased the VIP package offered exclusively by the Hard Rock were allowed to 'pass the line.' They were granted entrance into the venue before the rest of us. And we followed at 7pm. Security checked wristbands as we entered to make sure no one jumped the line. People poured into the venue, but there were still complications. The floor quickly filled with General Admission ticket holders. Soon we were listening to Paul's mix/dance music. Very appropriate.
Paul hit the stage at 8:30pm. He looked great sporting a 'Beatle haircut' and black suit. The crowd was ecstatic with enthusiasm. Cameras were everywhere. The band consisted of Brian Ray, Rusty Anderson, Paul 'Wix' Wickens, and Abe Laboriel, Jr. The following set list and some amusements occurred:
1) Drive My Car
3) Only Mama Knows
4) Flaming Pie
5) Got to Get You Into My Life - the background video to this song was taken from the upcoming release of The Beatles Rock Band game. Paul welcomed everyone to the Hard Rock Joint, and followed with, "and they would have to call it that, right?"
6) Let Me Roll It
7) a few riffs of Foxy Lady - Paul related a story of Jimi Hendrix opening his show in London with his own style of Sgt. Pepper only a couple of days following the album's release.
9) at the piano, a couple of bars of Baby Face
10) Long & Winding Road
11) My Love - written for Linda, in the 60s, "yeah, I was there, some of you weren't....and some.. of.. you.. were!"
12) Blackbird - acoustic guitar, alone on the stage, he said this song was written about oppression of the times, but America has come a long way by having Obama as President.
13) Here Today - tribute for John
14) Dance Tonight - on the mandolin, with the full band
15) Calico Skies
16) Mrs. Vandebilt
17) Eleanor Rigby
18) Sing the Changes
19) Band on the Run
20) Back in the USSR
21) Something - on the ukulele, tribute for George, Paul mentioned how George was a fan of George Formby, and then played a bit of
22) Leaning on the Lamppost
23) I've Got a Feeling & reprise
24) Paperback Writer
25) Day in the Life
26) Give Peace a Chance
27) Let It Be
28) Live & Let Die - powerful pyrotechnics, singed the eyebrows....
29) Hey Jude
30) Can't Buy Me Love
31) Lady Madonna - on piano, he said the song is in the LOVE production at The Mirage, "right down the street".
32) I Saw Her Standing There
33) Yesterday - dreamed the song, several people have recorded it, three of which were Elvis, Sinatra, and Marvin Gaye. And they changed the lyrics!
34) Helter Skelter
35) Get Back - "we need to go.....but, you can stay"
36) Sgt. Pepper Reprise
37) The End
Whew! Two and one half hours! What a fantastic, rocking show. I am sure a great time was had by all since everyone sang along to every number. Sometime during the evening, Paul noticed his girlfriend Nancy Shevell rocking out in the balcony. That was cute.
As we exited the venue, we could see and purchase the t-shirts made for this special occasion. I also looked in the Hard Rock gift shop. They had Beatles swag, but nothing featuring the grand re-opening. The casino was bustling with people and activities, but we decided to walk back to Terrible's and call it a night. After all, it had been a very full day - nothing terrible about it.
Monday morning, April 20th, we were to check out of the hotel and meet at the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch. It was a nice opportunity to visit with everyone again and exchange concert experiences. We also had special guests to join us for lunch: Jimmy Poe, who played George in the stage production of Beatlemania, and Steve Marinucci, who is the editor of Beatles Examiner.com, an online magazine.
We had excellent service provided by the Hard Rock waitresses. Our particular server, Angela, was self-named 'the best waitress in the world.' After our meal, Dave Carrow played a wicked game of Beatles trivia. Winners were given Beatles items that Dave had made himself. Although, the questions were difficult, Ivonne Chavez from Texas knew several answers, and she was the next to the youngest in attendance! By the end of the game, Dave was kind enough to give everyone a prize. He presented special items to Charles, our leader, and to Mary Colovich, who was celebrating her birthday.
As a parting gift, Charles surprised us with rare copies of the Hard Rock Hotel magazines he procured featuring Paul on the cover. Linda and Laurie, from Canada, brought a national flag for everyone to sign. Before long, we were saying our goodbyes, exchanging emails, and taking farewell photographs.
Many thanks to Charles and Liverpool Tours/Liverpool Productions for another successful adventure. Viva Macca!