I made a road trip to Las Vegas hoping to see an old friend named Rod Stewart. Of course I don’t know him personally but I’ve seen him many times in concert. In fact, it was his show in Santa Barbara in 1973 that helped me decide to go to college there. I’ve listened to his music for over four decades since his days with the Jeff Beck Group and the Faces. He is the ultimate showman but to me he seems like an old buddy.
Rod is doing one of those residency shows at the Colosseum at Caesar’s Palace, the best concert hall in the USA. I’ve seen Sting and Elton John perform there and I know there’s not a bad seat in the house. So I paid $75 at the box office to sit in the upper balcony without complaint. I knew it would be a great show because I’ve never seen Rod play a bad concert.
This one became even better when an usher came up to me and asked if I wanted to sit downstairs near the stage. Suddenly my $75 seat became a $200 one at no extra charge. I ended up in the 20th row. I’d been in Vegas for five hours and I’d already hit the jackpot!
That’s why I prefer going to concerts in Las Vegas. Not only
are the venues top-notch but tickets are always floating around since the casinos hold back some for their guests. There’s really no such thing as a sold-out show in Las Vegas.
Rod sang so many great songs that night including the obvious hits like “Tonight’s The Night,””Maggie May” and “Young Turks.”
My favorites were “Rhythm Of My Heart” and the surprising “Reason To Believe.” On the rowdy “Sweet Little Rock n’ Roller” Rod roamed through the crowd slapping hands and posing for pictures. Talk about a gracious performer. His band was top notch, including some of the prettiest female musicians (not just back-up singers) that I’d ever seen on one stage.
To finish things off, Rod sang the encore “Hot Legs’ while booting autographed soccer balls into the crowd! Sticking to the rules he never used his hands and showed remarkable agility for a 68 year-old, holding the mike while fielding balls rolled and tossed to him from backstage. He even did a few headers and some of his kicks reached the upper balcony! That’s what I call showmanship.
Two days later I decided to press my luck and walked over to the Hard Rock Casino on a freezing Friday night. The Who were performing Quadrophenia there and I knew it would be a tough ticket at such a small venue. The Joint at the Hard Rock is another great place to see a show and I’ve seen a few there: Ringo Starr, Santana and the Scottish band Travis. This one was a $125 minimum face value ticket and I set my limit by bringing $100 cash with me.
Arriving early I resisted the temptation to buy the first ticket offered for $80. I knew from experience sellers get nervous right before show time. So I made a little money playing video poker while keeping an eye on those milling about the entrance. When I was ready to buy I found no takers. I was about to give up when a guy came out of nowhere and offered me a balcony seat for $50. I was so excited I almost spilled my beer on him!
As usual The Who put on a terrific show and it was great to hear all of Quadrophenia performed live. Even better was knowing that I’d made the gamble to show up without a ticket and ended up finding one for less than half-price. Talk about getting lucky!