Stevie Wonder 8/3/18

SW Ticket

It all started in July when I was scrolling through Facebook and came across an ad for the five dates Stevie Wonder would be playing in Las Vegas during the month of August. I did not remember ever seeing Stevie Wonder touring near me so I took a screen shot as a reminder to mention it to Ingrid. I remembered later that night on our way to dinner and her response was an ecstatic “We are going! He is a bucket list concert for me!” I did not take her totally serious until we returned home and she bought tickets and booked a hotel!

I am not exactly sure when or how I first heard Stevie Wonder but in all fairness I have never lived under a rock and his music is not only timeless but also universally liked by all types of people. This man is a legend through and through. I can say with certainty that the first song of his that truly grabbed me was “Superstitious.” That song creeps into my bones and makes me start dancing every time I hear it and I am not what anyone would describe as a dancer.

Due to scheduling conflicts we ended up getting tickets to the first performance and the day had come. Despite proclaiming that we would never drive to Vegas again after about a 10 hour ride home when we went to see Soundgarden years before, here we were driving to Vegas to pinch a few pennies on our spontaneous trip. We left San Diego at 11:30 am sharp and did not end up getting to Vegas and checked into our hotel room until 6 pm, which turned out to be perfect because it gave us a solid hour before we had to hop into a Lyft to make our way to the Park Theater. Apparently the whole Park MGM was a fully renovated/recently reopened Monte Carlo. Thankfully our Lyft driver knew this because we were about to get dropped off at the MGM and wander around aimlessly for who knows how long before we figured out we were in the wrong place.

I did not realize Stevie Wonder’s blindness was so severe that he would need assistance walking across the stage until I saw it with my own eyes. His band consisted of a DJ, two horn players, two drummers, three female backup singers, a bassist and a guitarist and they crushed it. Everyone in the crowd was up and dancing the whole time and it was just a good vibe all around. I would have been satisfied just hearing “Superstition,” “I Wish,” and “Sir Duke” but he played those and so many more. At one point he mesmerized me by playing from where I was standing what looked like a paper scroll. After some research I found out it’s called a harpejji, which in his own description is “somewhere between a keyboard and a guitar” with 16 strings. This man has brought great joy to the world and his music will continue to spread that joy for him long after he is gone. I am beyond thrilled that I got the chance to witness it live while he was still here.

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P!nk 5/29/18

Pink Ticket

So P!nk’s world tour in support of her newest album Beautiful Trauma is definitely not the typical concert I would go to but Ingrid chose to take me with one of the two tickets I got her as a Christmas present this last year. P!nk just played San Diego in September for Kaaboo but Ingrid missed half of her set because Muse was playing at the same time.

I got a taste of what a P!nk show was all about when I saw her Grammy performance but that was not even the tip of the iceberg. This show was downright fantastic. I recognized some of the songs but an overwhelming visual aspect to the performance took the music to another level. The custom stage allowed her and her many dancers to spread out with choreographed routines. Two moving walkways in the middle section of the outstretched stage moved in opposite directions as she high fived people closest to her in the audience. A giant blowup of Eminem took center stage as she sang “Revenge.”

The real spectacle was when people were literally flying around the arena on some sort of pulley system. This rivaled a Cirque du Soleil show with the aerial acrobatics and is just not something seen in a live music setting. At one point during the show P!nk was dangling from one of her dancer’s arms high above the crowd without a harness on or a safety net below. High drama as she hit the high notes. The best rope pulley flying was reserved for the last song in her skin-tight glitter suit.

Even as impressive as the acrobatics were, they were nothing compared to the fact that P!nk was actually singing during all of this. Her voice sounded great and never wavered even as she was twisting and turning through the air. Her backing band was a traditional rock guitarist, bassist and drummer setup but she also had two backup singers and two keyboard players. This afforded her the ability to play “Just A Girl” by No Doubt and a delightfully surprising faithful rendition of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana.

In an age of no talent ass clowns that lip sync and fake their way through it was refreshing to see an artist that clearly cares about giving her fans something special and real. P!nk did not just set the bar, she is the bar.

SETLIST: Get the Party Started, Beautiful Trauma, Just Like a Pill, Who Knew, Revenge, Funhouse/Just a Girl, Smells Like Teen Spirit, Secrets, Try, Just Give Me a Reason, I’m Not Dead, Just Like Fire, What About Us, For Now, Barbies, I Am Here, Fuckin’ Perfect, Raise Your Glass, Blow Me (One Last Kiss), So What, Glitter in the Air