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Saturday, August 15, 2015

ROCK OF AGES AND MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

I rarely go to Las Vegas shows.  I remember once they were all mostly free.  To quote:

In the initial years of the Las Vegas Strip, "no" was a big word -- no cover, no minimum, no state speed limit, no sales tax, no waiting period for marriages, no state income tax and no regulation of gambling as it is known today.

Now, the prices are astronomical.  Cirque du Soleil, for example, has several different offerings, and they all pretty much start at $85, going up to $155.  Terry Fator, that ventriloquist from America's Got Talent?  Only $65 way in the back, but up to $175 up front.  Britney Spears?  Maybe $93 if you sit just about in the last row, but more desirable ones sell for $2525.

So my brother and I picked:
  • Rock of Ages
    • Rear and side orchestra   $74
    • Front orchestra               $106
    • Half price tix for FO    $  94
  • Million Dollar Quartet
    • Rear orchestra                 $54
    • Front orchestra                $71
    • Half price tix for FO     $50
Thus, half price is not half price, but we paid the bolderized amount.  There was also a $3/person link for half price off the entre for Casanova at the Venetian.

A long time ago I went to see Jersey Boys at the Venetian (the show today is at the Paris), and had a meal at Lagasse's Stadium at that hotel.  They had a bone marrow appetizer which was spectacular, for which I said I've got to come back someday.  As Rock of Ages was playing at the Venetian, I thought I would repeat my previous experience.  Not to be this time.

So we then drove to the Venetian:



I started with a Prosecco and Caesar Salad:


That's my younger brother Dan.  He retired as an Army Colonel and moved to Las Vegas 22 years ago. Then came my Osso Buco, which was disappointing with a tiny amount of marrow (had to do something to link to Lagasse's):


Dan and his fettucini pasta:


Then, Rock of Ages:


Put yourself back almost three decades, for this is a jukebox musical of metal hits.  However, you had to be tuned into Styx, Journey, Bon Jovi, Pat Benatar, Twisted Sister, Steve Perry, Poison and Europe to appreciate the music.  Maybe half was okay.  Def Leppard's Rock of Ages was not included because they could not reach contractual agreement.  You'd think they should have changed the title, as, it evokes something religious, nothing close to the reality.  The plot:  boy finds girl, loses her, gets a big break, loses it, and they all find each other at the Hollywood ending.  If you don't like metal music, don't come.  I came, and it was almost okay.  To the right, Lover Boy, Pat Benatar and Journey recently on tour.

Oh, there was a 2012 film, rated by Rotten Tomatoes at 41% (reviewers) and 54% (audience).  Many stars were cast, but only Tom Cruise (right) survived the critics.

So, anyway, Dan I went to the stage show at Harrah's, but arrived early, so we sat in the sport book room to watch a bunch of NFL preseason and Major League Baseball games.  I noticed there was a food court, so went for a takeout.  Dan ate Dan-Dan Noodles, while I had a Roast Duck Noodles with tuna sushi and a Heineken:



Finally, we arrived at Million Dollar Quartet.  Imagine an impromptu jam session, say on 4 December 1956, with Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash, in the Sun recording studios, as arranged by Sam Phillips. During those days Carl Perkins already had Blue Suede Shoes, Elvis had just made it and Johnny Cash was on his way.  All three were discovered by Sam Phillips at Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee, and Jerry Lee Lewis was just found, not yet under contract.  Well, this really happened, and Phillips recorded the whole thing.  An album was finally released with 17 songs in 1981 as The Complete Million Dollar Session.  There actually were 47 tracks, most incomplete.  In 2006 a stage musical was created in Florida, which moved to Chicago, then Broadway.  A national tour followed with a Las Vegas opening in 2013.

Even earlier, here is a clip in 1955 with Perkins, Presley, Cash and...Buddy Holly.  Thirty years later, Carl Perkins pulled it off again in 1985 for a Rockabilly Session with Friends.  Friends?  George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Dave Edmunds and Rosanna Cash.  The CD costs $12, while the DVD is $106.  Finally, while fumbling around with the above I stumbled across a semi-documentary on the early days of rock and roll.  I found it absolutely fascinating.   If you clicked on that link, it's tricky, but you need to get to the beginning for this hour long program, delving into New Orleans...black blues...hardcore racism from Alabama...Sam Phillips...and a lot more.  Or, maybe the prime root of rock and roll should be traced to 1934 with the Boswell (white) Sisters singing Rock and Roll.  They're known for Heebie Jeebies.

So returning to Million Dollar Quartet (photo to the left from the show), it was at this session that Phillips announced he had discovered the next star, Jerry Lee Lewis, at a period when Elvis had already left him for RCA, and both Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins first told Phillips that they, too, were leaving the company.  The full complete story can be found in Wikipedia.

Dan clearly enjoyed Rock of Ages more, while I liked Million Dollar Quartet.  Perhaps it has something to do with age, for the audience for the former was thirty years younger than the latter.  But Dan is only four years my junior.  He was around 12 when the quartet began to get popular, so that should have been his time for nostalgia.  He was wondering what went wrong.

So, I send this from the airport at Las Vegas and will fly home today.  I'll have a posting of my older brother at a later date.  To the right above, Stan, Pat and Dan...a long time ago.

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Tropical Storm Atsani at 50 MPH just formed, will strengthen into a Category 4 and head for Japan:


Tropical Storm Goni is at 60 MPH and will become a Category 3 typhoon, with a projected path towards Taiwan:


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1 comment:

Ellie said...

This makes me want to go to Vegas all over again. Rock of Ages is my absolute favorite. Phantom of the Opera is another good show to see there. Loved reading the blog!