Photo Diva: Hot-Blooded Mandalay Three-Way

You know I’m beginning to think that the photography gods just don’t want me to see and shoot a concert at the M Resort.

I made arrangements with the marketing department to cover the Steve Miller Band poolside concert but, it is probably just that it is the first resort in town at the southern end, but if it is breezy at my house I know it will be blowing twice that hard outside the M. It’s a great property and once inside it is easy to forget the gale outside. Unfortunately, the fire marshall could not “forget” about our Vegas Spring breezes clocking in at around 55 mph so he pulled the plug on the event. This isn’t the first time a concert that I was supposed to cover at the M Resort has been canceled…I just hope that the gods lighten up so I can see and shoot a show pretty soon because the space looks amazing and I just love doing outdoor concerts.

The band Kansas opens the show inside
the Mandalay Bay Events Center
Photo by Linda Evans

Good thing the Kansas/Styx/Foreigner concert was held indoors — at the Mandalay Bay Events Center to be exact — so I could finally take my new lens out for a spin. These combo headliner shows are a great idea in this troubled economy because it gives potential concert-goers a great value — in this case three headliners each doing a one hour set — which helps sell enough tickets to fill a larger venue like the events center which is a good thing for all involved. Tour Manager Todd Goldstein is a long-time sound guy and a friend of my hubby and myself and he had invited us a few weeks back to come out and hang at Front of House for the show. This would be the perfect opportunity for me to try out my new (well, new to me) Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8 IS Lens that I “adopted” from of one of my favorite local photographers, Erik Kabik (more on him in a little bit…) as I would have carte blanche to shoot the whole show.

First act up was Kansas and of course since they only had an hour to play, bandmates Phil Ehart, Billy Greer, Dave Ragdale, Steve Walsh and Rich Williams focused mainly on the easily recognizable hits and delivered them with to their fans with a loving hand and while the lighting was underwhelming and the LED video wall behind the band under utilized, the audio mix was well done and the band sounded great. I was humming along while clicking away to songs like “Carry On Wayward Son, “Point of Know Return” and “Dust In The Wind” while the musical snob that I wake up next to was more interested in some too-long thing he said was called “Icarus (Borne On WIngs of Steel)” and that I thought was called “So High.” Whatever. I like my title better.

Foreigner front man for five years,
Kelly Hansen, rocks the crowd
Photo by Linda Evans

Next up was Foreigner (my personal favorite on the bill) and again the band focused their one hour set on hit ballads like “Waiting For A Girl Like You” and “I Want To Know What Love Is” as well as up-tempo favorites like “Dirty White Boy” and one of my personal favorites “Hot Blooded” it was a bit of a challenge to shoot from Front of House because the audience seated (for lack of a better word) the hundred feet between the sound board and the stage rarely sat down so most of the show was spent with my camera over my head which isn’t the ideal situation to get the best images, especially since my new lens is rather large and a tad heavy. The guys — Thom Gimbel, Kelly Hansen, Jeff Pilson, Michael Bluestein, Jason Sutter and, filling in for founding member Mick Jones, Doug Aldrich (of Whitesnake fame) — did a really good job playing the instantly recognizable hits with ease and Don Dodge at the sound board did a phenomenal job making the room sound great and even though the lighting and video was better than what was done for Kansas it still could have been better. Interesting to note that Mick Jones is not only the founder, he is the only original member of Foreigner in this line-up. So the question is: Does it count as a Foreigner show or was it the biggest show by a tribute band in Vegas history?

After Foreigner left the stage and the crew started switching out the staging for Styx to take the stage, Bill and I went backstage to hang with Todd for a moment and to take some pictures of the Foreigner crew for FOH Magazine before heading out. While backstage I got talked into taking some photos of some mucky muck booze manufacturer and his entourage with the members of Styx in a tiny hallway just outside the dressing room. The pictures are only OK because I simply didn’t have the right lens with me for a large group shot. Reminder to self: be sure to bring every possible piece of equipment with you to every gig because you never know what opportunities will present themselves.

Foreigner rocking the crowd inside
the Mandalay Bay Events Center.
Photo by Linda Evans

So I mentioned Erik Kabik earlier and bring him up again because he was honored recently at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel’s inaugural event for their monthly artist showcase series. “An Evening with Erik Kabik” Concert Photo Show — highlighting images from his 20 years of photographing bands and musicians including The Grateful Dead, Phish, The Rolling Stones, Beyonce and Madonna — was well attended, including gossip columnist Robin Leach, Channel 3’s entertainment reporter Alicia Jacobs and 8 News Now Anchor Dayna Roselli. The artist showcase series will take place on the third Monday of every month and is an enhancement to the existing Mandarin Mondays industry events.

Another one of my photography idols, Robert Knight, is bringing his art to the Las Vegas Hilton by putting it on display and making available for purchase at the Knight Gallery starting May 28th and will be kicked off with a grand party and a concert entitled “Knight of the Guitar,” with up-and-coming musicians Josh Gooch, Ryan McGarvey, Graham Whitford and Yayo Sanchez inside the Hilton Theater. I’ll be there so I’ll tell you all about it next column.

Oh…and it’s official: I will be attending and shooting one of the largest European multi-day outdoor music extravaganza in Denmark called Roskilde Festival at the end of June so be sure to follow me on Twitter and friend me on Facebook to get reports of my upcoming adventure. Lastly, don’t forget our band will be playing poolside at the Orleans from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. every Friday night in June and it should be a great time so come on by and have some fun with me!