Ah, Vegas. One of my favorite places. "Adult Disney World" it has been called, with good reason. Obviously, it's not for everyone and some people are just grossed out by the place. Which I can understand. Every excess of the human condition is openly on display, and mostly in an accessible manner. When I go there I gladly subscribe to a concept that is taught in drama classes: The Willing Suspension of Disbelief. This concept basically states that yes, everything I see is phony but you know what? I don't care!! I'm going to have a good time.
And showing you a good time is what that town is all about. For a price of course. I've been there about a dozen times now and one thing that becomes obvious very quickly is that almost everyone is as nice as they can be, and every one of those people have their hand out to a lesser or greater degree. This is fine - that's their business. We certainly understand the necessity of separating a tourist from his money right here on Cape Cod.
Anyway, I won't bore you with stories of employing my "system" at roulette or the fabulous food we ate. I'll tell you about the music. We attended the absolutely astounding Cirque du Soliel show, "Love" at the Mirage where we stayed. It was my third time seeing this show and all I can really say is: see it. See it if you're ever out there, even if you do nothing else. Based on the music and life of the Beatles, not only is the overall production almost beyond description but you will be blown away by the music, how it is arranged, blended and played through the most incredible sound system I've ever heard. Basically, George Martin, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono, George Harrison's wife and many others were totally involved with how the music is presented. The vocals are subtracted and then snatches of dozens and dozens of songs, plus a few selected longer pieces are played while the Cirque performers present interludes based on the music. I've been a hardcore Beatles fan since they hit these shores in 1964 and know EVERY song but I can tell you no matter how much you know their music you will hear things, amazing things, you've never heard before. In a nutshell, "Love" is the best show of any type that I have ever seen. If you love Beatles music or just love visual and aural spectacle, see...this...show.
And on the other end of the spectrum..... there is Big Elvis. He performs in the late afternoon a couple times a week at one of the sleazier casinos on the Strip, Bill's Gamblin' Hall. Big Elvis has been there many years, and a couple years he ago supposedly weighed in at a robust 500 pounds. He has slimmed down to the high 200s so the effect is, ahem..., not quite as dramatic but it is a fun experience nevertheless. He sings (very well!) with recorded tracks of not just Elvis tunes but other of the same era and the crowd loves hin. He has become a true Vegas institution and hey, it's free. I got almost as much of a charge from watching him work the crowd and flirt with ladies "of a certain age" as the music and his overall performance, which was very good. Worth checking out, with tongue placed firmly in cheek.
Also heard some great jazz at one of the bars in the casino at Bellagio, which remains my favorite hotel/casino in Las Vegas for its classy vibe and great people-watching. This bar always has great performers and this time it was a piano/bass duo playing mostly Great American Songbook selections. They were as good as any jazz duo anywhere and again - free of charge.
I do wish jazz was easier to find on the Strip though. But with the "ultra lounges" and Cirque du Soliel, plus of course Cher, Celine Dion and other top names being the real money makers I can understand why its not there.
Heard a show band at the Venetian in their main lounge just off the casino floor playing everything from classic rock and Motown to U2, Green Day and more modern dance music. The guitarist was great and the band could cook. You'd pay a steep cover to hear such a band around here. Free in Vegas.
Las Vegas. Not for everyone, for sure, but if you want to entertained, they will gladly provide. Sometimes for a price, sometimes for free but you can be sure you'll hear some great music there.
Peace & good music,