Well, well, well…here I go again with two shows on the same night. You’d think that I would have learned my lesson by now that two shows in one night isn’t necessarily a good idea. This time, however, I had proximity on my side. The two shows were Bon Jovi at the MGM Grand Garden Arena and Dick Dale at the new Hard Rock Cafe on the Strip just a short walk away.
As a Jersey girl I have a soft spot in my heart for New Jersey band Bon Jovi but haven’t had the chance to see them live until now. Just in case you’ve never heard of them, Bon Jovi formed in the early 80’s and currently consists of lead singer Jon Bon Jovi, guitarist Richie Sambora, keyboardist David Bryan, drummer Tico Torres, and bassist Hugh McDonald and become renowned for several rock anthems like their signature song “Livin’ on a Prayer”, as well as “You Give Love a Bad Name”, “Wanted Dead or Alive”, “Bad Medicine”, “It’s My Life” and “Have a Nice Day”. Their latest hit single is “We Weren’t Born to Follow” off of their eleventh studio album, The Circle.
Now, I was there shooting pictures of the sound crew during sound check for my day gig, Front of House magazine, and was offered Guest Passes for the show. While we already had plans to see Dick Dale later on that night we knew he wasn’t going to hit the Hard Rock Cafe stage until 11pm so we readily agreed to hang at Front of House. The show was absolute audio and visual perfection but somehow was missing the WOW factor. Maybe it’s because the show as well as the band was so perfect that it just seemed unbelievable somehow. Unfortunately I didn’t get approval to shoot the show ahead of time so management made me put the pro camera equipment away. Luckily for me I always have my pocket camera with me so I joined in with all of the other 16,000 or so fans in the sold-out arena taking pictures and video. Take a look at the videos of both Bon Jovi and Dick Dale here.
After the show we walked around the corner and onto the Strip to the new Hard Rock Cafe to see the legendary guitarist Dick Dale. We got there while the local band, The Clydesdale, were still playing and I immediately fell in love with this rockabilly four-piece band. Led by the stunning and sassy Paige Overton who looks and sounds like a cross between Betty Paige and June Carter Cash and plays rhythm guitar quite nicely. The rest of the band consists of Courtney Carroll (drums), Jason Aragon (bass) and Andrew Karasa (guitar). Their sound is quite fresh and I would consider the genre as rockabilly, however there’s also a straight on classic folk/country feel to their all original and quite catchy songs. Upcoming Vegas shows are March 11 at 7pm and at The Griffin on March 27 at 8pm at The Farm and I highly recommend checking them out.
After a brief set change, Dick Dale emerges from a back room and proceeds to enthrall the nearly packed room. Ironically, this living guitar and surf legend known for inventing surf music in the 50’s and was given the title “King of the Surf Guitar” by his fellow surfers is actually from Boston, MA, and will turn 73 years young on May 4 but you’d never know it. You may not recognize the name but you surely know his work if you’ve ever taken a ride on Disneyland’s Space Mountain as his music is played throughout the entire building. My favorite tune is “Misirlou” which was the title song for Quentin Tarantino’s cult classic “Pulp Fiction” as well as “Space Jam”, commercials for Domino’s Pizza, Mountain Dew and Nisson and the ultra-successful TV show “Friends.” More recently, the Black Eyed Peas song “Pump It” heavily samples Dale’s “Misirlou” and is also featured in the PlayStation 2/Xbox 360 video game, Guitar Hero II, as well as the Wii launch title Rayman Raving Rabbids.
Dick Dale can still play his Stratocaster guitar loud, fast and proud. Accompanied by only a drummer and bass player, his stylings of both his original songs as well as popular cover tunes like Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” were unforgettably full and fierce and all within a fabulous new venue with exceptional sound and an amazing view. Fair warning: The show venue within the new Hard Rock Cafe is on the third floor with a lot of stairs to climb so if you’re wearing heels I strongly suggest taking the elevator. Also, while the stage is a nice size the dance floor area in front of it is huge and seating is limited so if you want to sit get there early or face having to stand. Which is the predicament I faced so I was left standing in the back of the room by the bar. But even standing, this is a great room and the show was put on by Resodence, a group of exceptional locals dedicated to promoting live original music in Las Vegas.
Having been standing nearly non-stop since the early afternoon Bon Jovi sound check, my feet were throbbing and I could only handle standing through a little over an hour of Dick Dale’s set and just had to leave before he played “Misirlou” so I’m really hoping he plays Vegas again soon. The next time I won’t try to do another show–even one next door–on the same night. Even the Photo Diva has her limits.