Cirque du Soleil,
The Mirage, Las Vegas
30 August 2012
Ooh, Las Vegas. I Loathe Las Vegas. Its only excuse for existence is the various Cirque du Soleil shows. Sartorially, it divides between “I’m so grossly overweight that I don’t give a shit what I look like while I pump the one arm bandit” to “I asked my girlfriend if this glittery skirt was too short for me and she said it was fine.” She lied. My personal sartorial solution is a purple, pink and green Hawaiian shirt and a floppy Tilley hat in honour of Hunter S. Thompson. This shirt only comes out for Las Vegas.
We were here for “Love” and “Ka”. I’ve managed three trips to Vegas without investing even a quarter on gambling. Fortunately the hotel doesn’t know that so you get the huge room for $70 a night. Las Vegas rooms have separate toilets with lockable doors, something you don’t need when travelling with family. Perhaps they expect strangers to be sharing the bathroom. Las Vegas sends me into deep depression about the human condition. Experiments with rats pushing levers to deliver food spring to mind every time you walk through a casino. And you have to in order to get anywhere.
The good news is that Love was a truly uplifting memorable and even spiritual experience. I felt a tear dribble on my cheek at the projections of John and George at the end. The sound system presents The Beatles music as you have never heard it … and I’ve had the CD of “Love” since its release five or six years ago. The show is magnificent, to the point where I was lost in the awe of a kid on his or her first visit to the circus, though this show is as much dance theatre as acrobatics
You come out convinced that the Beatles are head and shoulders above them all … Dylan, Springsteen, Marley, Simon … whoever. Bob Geldorf said the only way to run an all celebrity show is to have a Beatle, as then there is no argument over who tops the bill. This show proves it. No competition. Not only that, but a Love II is hovering … and it wouldn’t seem weaker. Look at the songs that failed to get in there … Magical Mystery Tour, We Can work It Out, Hello Goodbye, Day Tripper, She Loves You, Penny Lane, Baby You’re A Rich Man, Rain, I Saw Her Standing There, A Hard Day’s Night, I Want You, Her Majesty, She Came InThru The Bathroom Window, Helter Skelter, In My Life, Norwegian Wood, All My Loving, Let It Be, Long and Winding Road, Please Please Me, Love Me Do, From Me ToYou, Twist and Shout, Ballad of John & Yoko, Nowhere Man, Yellow Submarine, Got To Get You Into My Life, Here There and Everywhere. The choices made for Love lean heavily to later albums and to psychedelic. There may have been a degree of politics in the selection, though Ringo only got Octopussey’s Garden, and it was rather odd to expose his slightly flat voice before the music came in. On the other hand, the presentation was gorgeous. Within You Without You is a less obvious song, but the parachute games effect of a white cloth over the entire audience made it a stand-out.
There was a lot of kerfuffle about the remixes: the acapella “Because”, the building of Strawberry Fields Forever through its many stages. It all works. We know they couldn’t have played the post 1966 stuff live. While they could have had a classical orchestra with them, it would have been the old beery session men, rather than the pretty young violinists and cellists that John Cale and Brian Wilson could employ in the 2000s. So seeing the later songs, which the show focusses upon with dancers is tremendous. The speed of the action is exhilarating, there are jaw dropping effects and feats of acrobatics virtually every one of the ninety minutes.
Lucy in The Sky With Diamonds is simple but effective as the lone Lucy soars over us and a sea of cloud. I instantly shot back to 1967 and Hull University and a literature lecturer’s party where he explained that the initials stood for LSD. An earnest sociologist who had found his way there said, ‘Ah, clever! It refers back to “Money” then.’
The armed police with batons for Revolution reminded me of “Across The Universe” a favourite film which utilises Beatles music (though in new cover versions). The joining the army scene for I Want You resonates with the police here. The hippies versus police trampolining was astonishing, as was the rollerboarding for Help. There were no weak points, but both Yesterday and While My Guitar Gently Weeps were “milder” sections rather than weaker ones. The contrast of pace these provide is probably necessary to avoid sensory overload.
A Day In The Life is quite properly the climax, utilising the Abbey Road Volkswagen. I assume the trapeze artist in red represents John Lennon’s mother, and the boy on the bed is young John. Then Hey Jude provides resolution and peace after the climax, and it all goes home to All You Need Is Love.
A Google Image search only reveals confusing images. So much was happening simultaneously at such a high speed that no still photo can do it justice. I would rate this as at least equal to the first time I saw the Cirque du Soleil’s “O” but with better music and more pace. Rating out of ten? Eleven. This theatrical experience made the visit to Lost Vegas worthwhile.