|Liverpool Productions Presents:
August 21 - 30, 2017 Liverpool and London
August 19 - 21, 2017 Amsterdam Option
Weekend Of Love III
Feburary 6-8, 2009
Report by: Kenny Pitofsky
Photos by John Gore, Olivia Ross and Cyndi Young-Brown
On the 45th anniversary of The Beatles arrival in America, a group of 27 fans arrived in Las Vegas for Liverpool Production's Third "Weekend of LOVE." Some were returning travelers from prior weekends, some were first-time travelers, and more than half were alumni of the annual "Magical History Tour" to Liverpool. So for many this was also a reunion of fans and friends.
Liverpool Productions first introduced the "Weekend of LOVE" concept a few years ago, having successfully produced Beatles-themed "weekend getaways" back in the 80's.
The weekend started early for those who arrived on Thursday night. Marilyn's Lounge at The Eastside Cannery, a Casino off the strip, hosted the band, "The Fab." (Editor's note: there are a lot of bands with the name Fab in their title, so we'll try to keep it straight). The Fab are not one of the look-alike, dress-alike tribute acts. Instead, they're great local rock musicians who simply belt out Beatles songs in clubs. Throughout the night, they took requests and played everything the audience threw at them. They also acknowledged the Weekend of Love several times from the stage, while people danced up a storm. As area favorites, the group plays regularly in Vegas, so make it your business to check them out if you're ever in town.
A few of us also took in another show, opting to see the ever-revolving cast of music impersonators in the "Legends" show at Imperial Palace Hotel Casino, where we were staying. This "Legends" featured a dancing and singing Temptations (with great actual Temptations footage on the video monitors), a spot-on Justin Timberlake, a Whitney Houston (complete with scenes from "The Bodyguard" film) and an incredibly charismatic Elvis. His voice was superb, and the production synced up scenes of Elvis perfectly recreated by this impersonator. He alone was worth the price of admission, and surprisingly, there were no other Elvis tributes playing Vegas at the time (usually there are a few). A passable Jay Leno hosted the show, and surprised everyone by coming out during the encore, and ripping out some rockin' vocals in a medley with all the performers. There was no Lennon or McCartney in this edition of "Legends" (there has been in the past), but after 25 years, "Legends" is still a great night out, and different from season to season.
Staying at the Imperial Palace is sometimes comparable to staying at the Adephi Hotel in Liverpool. It's in the center of all the action on the strip, there's non-stop entertainment (even some of the dealers are rock look-alikes and performers), and it's convenient to everywhere with the Mirage literally across the street and the monorail there to get you to all points of the Vegas strip. It also has one of Vegas' most popular Karaoke clubs, and an incredible rare automobile collection exhibition.
Most of the fans arrived on Friday at various times throughout the day. The first planned event was a welcome orientation party in a suite at the famed Sahara Hotel, one of the last remaining of the beloved classic casinos on the strip. This is where The Beatles played when they came to Las Vegas in 1964. A little-known fact is that The Beatles ran through a "private" set early in the day at the Sahara's Congo Room, where some lucky staff members where the only ones who got to hear The Beatles rehearse. Did they call it a sound-check in those days?
As it turns out, John, Paul, George & Ringo shared Executive Suite #2344 in the Alexandria Towers section of the Sahara, and that's were we had our event. Going up to the room, guests pass a plaque noting that The Beatles stayed here (as did countless other celebrities, but these were the only ones we cared about), and there is also a large framed photo of The Beatles. Taking the elevator up the 23 flights, the anticipation builds. Getting off the elevator, one hears Beatles music coming out of the suite. Those with a good imagination could transport themselves back in time some 45 years, and realize that the lads could have been writing music in this room, partying or just getting sleep. In any case, we were in the actual same suite, and we savored every minute of it. Our host (and the organizer of the weekend, Charles F. Rosenay!!!), had the suite festively decorated for the occasion with balloons, there was a computer showing footage and interviews of the LOVE show we'd be seeing the next night, and there was a small display of CDs, books and other memorabilia available.
There's a bar in the suite, and hanging on the wall is a rare photo of John, Paul, George & Ringo sitting on a terrace. When we realized that it was the same terrace outside our suite, it wasn't long before we were out on the terrace (with a most breathtaking view) recreating the same pose. Everyone took dozens of pictures. Some couldn't help but sprawl out in the bed (sorry, they've changed the sheets since '64). Again, this was a reunion for many who'd traveled to England together, so there was much catching up, and some new friendships were quickly made. Everyone got a goodie (swag) bag with a nice assortment of Beatles items (the buttons seemed to be the most popular) plus some neat Vegas paraphernalia (limited edition souvenir key chains with gambling chips were possibly the coolest collectible). Also inside were the tickets to LOVE and vouchers for dinner, the first time a meal was included on one of these weekends.
A few people with show tickets cut out early (one couple scored tickets to see Elton John's "Red Shoes" extravaganza, while several others went to see Cirque du Soliel's "Zumanity"), but those who stayed were entertained by the controversial John Niems, a masterful musician and songwriter from Vegas. Charles gave us all updates for the weekend, told us something about the suite, and turned things over to guitarist John. He was best when leading the sing along with Beatles tunes, but some wondered how appropriate were the political songs and views he interspersed during his set. His tribute to his 90-year old Dad was touching, and his original composition "If Lennon Were Here," is actually quite brilliant. Some of his songs have been submitted to the John Lennon Songwriting Competition.
We discovered that a little-known Beatles band "Paperback Writer," were playing a show on the other side of town (in Northern Las Vegas), but nobody from our group made it over to check them out.
Saturday, February 7th (the actual days The Beatles landed in the U.S.) was a full day for all of us. As our first event wasn't until 5pm, everyone opted for different things to do (and in Vegas, the choices are limitless). A few people visited the Coca Cola museum, some spent time in the Pinball Machine Hall of Fame (no, they don't have The Bootles machine, a rare pinball machine made to capitalize on the mania of the time), others visited the Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum to seek out The Beatles figures in wax, but the majority either visited all the amazing casinos or went shopping. Our two "go-go girls," Cyndi and Susie, spent the morning and afternoon discovering the great shops of the seemingly endless malls. We don't know what they bought here or what they brought from home, but we do know that they had the best go-go boots, 60's mini-skirts and Yardley girl hairstyles. They really got into the spirit of things.
At 5pm, we gathered outside the V Theatre in the Miracle Mile Mall attached to Planet Hollywood Casino (formerly The Aladdin). Here, we were wowed by the show "Fab Four Live." For anyone who had been on past weekends in Vegas, or fans who follow tribute bands, this is where it gets confusing. For years, one of the world's finest and most famous Beatle tribute acts, "The Fab Four," had a residency at this venue with their cast called "Fab Four Mania." Up until a few weeks before we arrived in Vegas, "Fab Four Mania" were playing at the Riviera, having relocated from the Sahara. "Fab Four Live" -- no relation to "The Fab Four" or "Fab Four Mania" aside from two former cast members the Lennon and The Ringo) -- were playing the V Theatre. In fact, this was the only Beatles tribute show on the strip. The "Fab Four Live" show is very similar to "The Fab Four Mania" show on many levels and the audience loved them. The Ed Sullivan who introduces the show and adds comical bits, also jumps on stage in hippie attire later in the show to play some tambourine and keyboards. There is a video show with vintage clips, and dancing go-go girls (no, not our Cyndi & Susie). Lead guitarist Glenn McCallum, who's originally from Australia and has played guitar with Blue Man Group can now be considered one of the top George Harrisons. He was good when he played with "Fab Forever" (sorry, yet another Beatles band with the name "Fab" in their title), but with "Fab Four Live" his leads are perfect.
The audience loved the band, and our gang unanimously said it was a great show. We met the band-members after the show and posed for a group picture. Olivia from our group got the guys' autographs on promo photo cards we were all given. But there was one surprise awaiting us. The show's producer/manager/guru Mick, escorted backstage (exclaiming "this is where the magic ends") through some corridors and down into a garage. He had arranged with Charles to shuttle everyone over to the Mirage aboard a custom Beatles-themed minibus with the band's logo. We had been expecting to walk, so this was a pleasant treat.
At the Mirage, we all ate dinner together at Stack, a fancy high-end (and very expensive) steak restaurant. Fortunately, the meal was included as part of our weekend package, so we only had to pay for the drinks, though some of us didn't realize that. There wasn't time for drinks at the Revolution Lounge, as doors were opening for the LOVE show - and that was the main reason we were there! Our seats were phenomenal and the show was magnificent. The sound is mind-blowing. Words can't describe the wonderful marriage of Cirque Du Soliel's out-of-this-world visuals coupled with the music of The Beatles. The remixes and musical mashes of the songs we know so well take on new meaning in this otherworldly circus environment. People who had seen the show before knew what to expect, but thought there were a lot of tweaks and revisions that made it better. That makes sense, because the first time we went, we were told that it would go through changes. It flowed better than before, if that's possible. To say that we all loved it would be an understatement.
After the show, nearly all of us popped into the gift shop or the Revolution Lounge. The preferred late night activity seemed to be karaoke back at the Imperial Palace, but others hit the town.
Our farewell luncheon took place at the Las Vegas Hard Rock Café, and everyone couldn't be in better spirits. Nearly everyone visited the Hard Rock Casino first to check out their memorabilia, and then we gathered in our own section for our final get-together of what was a most incredibly fast-flying few days of fab fun. The Hard Rock staff was friendly and upbeat, and very accommodating to our group. Before we knew it, there were classic rock videos on the monitors with Beatles, solo McCartney and other gems. Every time we've visited the Hard Rock in Vegas before, they surprised us with souvenir gifts (last time we got enamels, before that shot glasses), and this time was no exception. In the middle of lunch, our servers gave each of us a cool Hard Rock souvenir poker chip; definitely a nice addition to a collection. The meal was ideal, and the atmosphere perfect.
After our meal, we did some shopping in the Hard Rock store, took pictures of the Yellow Sub display there, and discovered that Paul was playing Vegas in a few months time. We reviewed how great the LOVE show was, talked about what we did on our own, and made plans to get together again next year in Vegas for the next "Weekend of LOVE."
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