Love in Las Vegas

Las Vegas is not my first choice of US cities. Glittering casinos are not my cup of tea. Nor is a city built in the middle of the desert. But I’d been invited by a good friend of the Cirque de Soleil to attend the opening of their new show “Love” — a tribute to the Beatles. I have always loved the Cirque’s shows, and the Beatles… I remember one Friday at my local youth club in 1962 listening to a new single “Love Me Do.” From then on they were part of my life – through Sgt Pepper and the summer of love in 1967, to the Maharishi and Rishikesh and the seeds of my own life’s journey. So, to go forty years later, to the opening of a show on the Beatles at The Mirage was a significant marker.
I wondered if any of the Beatles themselves would turn up. I did not have to wait long. In the Cirque de Soleil’s staff party the night before, I was asked to give up my seat to Julian Lennon. Hanging around at the entrance to the show, Ringo walked by. Inside I found Paul, Yoko, Cynthia Lennon, Olivia Harrison, and Sir George Martin were all there.
The show itself blew my away. The theatre had been completely rebuilt at a cost of over $100 million, with the Cirque’s characteristic flair for moving stages and extravagant effects. it had been rebuilt “in the round” so the stage was in the centre. Each of the 2.500 seats had a pair of speakers embedded in the headrest and three more facing you from the back of the seat in front. I was cocooned in my own bubble of perfect fidelity surround-sound. Sir George Martin, had taken many of the original Abbey Road studio tracks, re-orchestrated them into the highest quality Beatles’ sound I will probably ever hear. And then mixed tracks so that, to give just one example of many, bits of ‘Penny Lane’, and ‘Piggies’ wove in and out of ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’.
There were so many highlights to the show. One I will never forget was half way through, after gymnasts had been leaping and tumbling over an iron framed double bed. They started pulling out the sheet from underneath the bed. They kept pulling more and more sheet till it covered the stage. Then pulled more, stepping back into the audience, where hands eagerly pulled the sheet over their heads until finally it reached all the way back to the walls of the theatre. Then the bed in the centre rose towards the roof, leaving 2.500 of us sitting beneath a huge tent. The largest light show ever now played down on the tent from above.
Suddenly the sheet was sucked back into a hole in the centre of stage leaving us in darkness, except for a myriad of tiny twinkling lights which had been lowered to fill the air above our heads, accompanied by an eerie, haunting, sound. The lights flickered in patterns, creating a unique 3-D effect throughout the space. Slowly the eerie sound took on a more rhythmic form, and recognition dawned. The twinkling lights were diamonds, and there, spinning at the top of the theatre in flowing white robes was Lucy, who continued with a magnificent acrobatic display.
And that was just one of many incredible moments. I’ll have to see the show several times to fully digest them all.
At the end, Paul, Ringo, Yoko, Julian, Cynthia, Olivia, George Martin and Guy Lalibertie (founder of the Cirque) all came on stage. Ringo true to style, picking up a red umbrella left on stage from the finale (which included thousands of red paper petals showering the stage and audience) and pranced round with it. Paul shouted “This if for John and George!” and the audience erupted.

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