Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Fab Four and 'Love' - Beatlemania in Vegas

Tricked ya!  This is the Fab Four, not The Beatles
When I was in Vegas last spring with my parents and Grandma, I found out about a Beatles tribute show at the Aladdin - 'The Fab Four.' I went by myself (my parents were not interested: "They just keep repeating the same thing over and over again!") and loved it, and since my husband is also a big Beatles fan, I figured that we should go together (and for me, again) this past weekend.

Luckily, this show is never sold out, and therefore you can always get half-priced tickets the day of (but they don't play on Fridays) - so that's what we did - $26 a ticket, not bad for Vegas... But when you get to the "V" theater in what is now the mall of Planet Hollywood (bye bye, Aladdin) and realize that you are herded in to a small room with folding chairs, you'll be glad you took my advice and didn't pay full price!

While my view was partially obstructed by a big column in the middle of the room (I oh-so-unselfishly gave my husband the better spot as I had seen the show before), overall we had decent seats. Before the show, they put Beatles trivia questions up on a few screens around the room. I knew I had a major freak sitting directly behind me when the first question, "Where did the Beatles grow up?" came on and the guy screamed: "LIIVVEERRRPPOOOOOOOOOOLLLLLL!!!!!" like his life depended on it.

First off, "Duh!" Second, another choice (yeah, the quiz was multiple choice on top of being easy) was "Las Vegas," so it's not like this was a qualifier for MENSA or something.

"Who was the Beatles manager that died from an accidental prescription drug overdose?" "BRIIIIIAAAANNN EPPPPSSTEEEEIIIINNNNN!!!!"

This was just a game to pass the time before the show, but the guy behind me was in it for blood. About half-way through, he complained aloud, "Man, I wish we were playing for something, I would totally win this!" However, the lack of a prize, much less of any recognition whatsoever, didn't stop him from continuing to shout answers at the top of his lungs.

At 6 p.m. the show began. While I would be able to tell if a Beatles cover band was REALLY BAD, I would never know if they weren't using the right instruments and I certainly wouldn't catch whether or not they were nailing small musical details embedded in songs. If they sound even the slightest bit like the Beatles, can fake a British accent and wear good wigs, I will be a happy girl. I even forgave the fact that, when I saw the Beatles Brunch at Dick's Last Resort a few months ago, the guy playing Paul McCartney was Indian?!?! But my husband (and apparently the guy behind me) knew all the things to look for, and after the first song, both he and Trivia Guy exclaimed, "Wow."

Throughout the show my husband continued to be impressed. Apparently the band used all of the same guitars as the "real band" did for every single song, on top of playing songs that are hardly ever attempted by cover bands - like 'Penny Lane' and 'A Day in the Life.' I dare say that this concert was the highlight of our trip for him.

At the end of an hour and 15 minutes or so, the show was over, and I finally had a chance to glance back at Trivia Guy. He was NOT what I expected in the least! Very punk-rock looking, appeared to have on make-up, wore a leather jacket, had spiked hair... one of those people whose voice does not fit what he looks like. I thought I was going to be staring at some dorky middle-aged guy yearning to still be cool, but I didn't know what in the heck to make of Trivia Guy once I saw him. But I was glad that he, too, loved the show. If you are a Beatles fan, I highly recommend The Fab Four show, but you should still try for the half-priced tickets at Tix 4 Tonight.

The ticket counter - yeah, yeah, yeah.Beatlemania continued the next night when we saw 'Love' by Cirque du Soleil at the Mirage. We were in the second row, and other people we were traveling with were in the ultimate last row. Shortly after buying our tickets a few months ago, we learned from a friend who had been to the show that it is actually much better to sit as far back as possible. Curses!!! I have to agree with his insight after seeing the show myself. There are many visual effects that simply cannot be appreciated from a lower vantage point, not to mention the fog machines constantly blowing in our faces. So heed my warning - if you go to 'Love' - sit the farthest back (ultimately the center section, last row) that you can - you will get the best view in the house for about half the price! Then you can write and thank e for cluing you in!

Regarding the show itself... I think I had my expectations set too high. I had heard from several people that it was incredible, I had seen promising clips on the web site, and had purchased and memorized the soundtrack eight months ago. Plus, I have seen several other Cirque du Soleil shows so I had a lot to compare "Love" to... and the thing is, it just didn't really seem like a Cirque du Soleil show! I was expecting people flying all over the place and crazy stunts and impossibly limber people making my mouth drop open... and while there was a little of that, the show was by and large more of an interpretation of Beatles' songs rather than an acrobatic spectacle. Don't get me wrong, it was a great show and I will probably see it again (if for nothing else then to experience it from a better view), but I think I was more awed by 'O' (Bellagio) and 'Ka' (MGM Grand). 'Ka' remains my favorite show to date.

Sit back and let the evening go!Things I actually liked BETTER about 'Love' than any of the other shows is that I actually knew what in the hell was going on for once... each song had dance numbers or stunts that were clearly inspired by the lyrics. For example, "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" had a woman (presumably Lucy) whizzing all around in the air and the theater was all dark and there appeared to be a whole bunch of sparkling diamonds floating around. I GET IT, YAY! I prefer that to scary clowns and angry-looking bald dudes engaged in some inexplicable battle that is set to fairly crappy music and lyrics you can't understand any day. They also showed a lot of clips of the Beatles themselves, as well as audio of the band talking in recording sessions.

If you would like to see some of the show for yourself, visit this site and click on either Low or High Res in the upper right, and a bunch of highlight clips will load. My favorite performance of the show was "Octopus's Garden," which is interesting because that is not a song I would typically seek out to listen to, but what they did with it was very cool and fun.

There are very few bands in the world-- in fact, I can think of no other besides The Beatles, that could have a show like this pack a multi-million-dollar theater in Vegas night after night (the one-year anniversary is June 26th), and I would bet that every person in the auditorium had a great time. So if you want a very spot-on Beatles experience in Vegas, go to The Fab Four show, and if you want a surreal tribute, go to 'Love.' And if you're like me and really love John, Paul, George and Ringo - then do both.

- e


Anonymous said...

Hi e i'm an avid reader of your Locke blog, and just thought I'd let you know I live in Liverpool so if theres anything you want in regards to the Beatles let me know, we have tons of shops and the Beatles museum is just aound the corner from where I work. Your husband would love the matthew st festival we have here every year to celebrate them. Anyway take care and keep up these blogs!

Wanders said...

e - I love this write up since my mum-in-law is giving us tickets to Love in December. I saw the Larry King interview last night with Paul, Ringo, Yoko, and Olivia and wrote it up on my blog.

Wanders said...

Okay, I know this is late, but my wife and I went to see Fab Four Mania based on your recommendation. We loved it. We had front row seats and the band totally flirted with my wife since she was such an obvious fan. She even one the Tshirt toss. No lame people in the audience behind us though, just this great retired couple from England. (Oh, and my mum-in-law fell though on the Love tickets, but we had a blast anyway!)