Author Topic: 2006-10-07 Grand Slam review (long read)  (Read 1866 times)

Offline kromer891

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2006-10-07 Grand Slam review (long read)
« on: October 09, 2006, 01:21:11 AM »
Well, I must say I was just a bit disappointed with last night's show, but not for reasons that could be helped. The 11th annual Grand Slam for Children benefit concert was a charity event with proceeds providing assistance to the Andre Agassi Charity Foundation; in particular, the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was not your typical concert, but more of a gala entertainment event. Still, it was well worth attending, if for no other reason than the nature of the cause. Andre does a lot here in Nevada for disadvantaged youth, and he is well respected as a humanitarian for the sake of humanity, not for the sake of the attention or label.

The MGM Grand Garden Arena was host to the event, which attracted over 10,000 contributors in all. The floor was filled with tables. Front row tables sold for $500,000 a piece (ten seats in all) and were sold out. There were a handful of diamond contributor tables still available at the start of the show for $75,000 each. That being said, designer tuxedos and evening gowns were the standard attire and from my vantage point, waiters and waitresses in crisp white three-piece suits scampered back and forth carrying trays of elegant place-settings with ornate sculptures in typical over-the-top Las Vegas style – an exercise in extravagance.

My wife and I both attended and our seats were the cheapest available, at $50 a piece, but were possibly among the best in the house, save for the tables below. Section 103, row AA, seats 1 & 2. To the right were sections 102 and 101, to the left were 104 and 105. We were about two or three seats just right of dead center, absolute first row of seats sitting about twenty feet above the grand floor below. The main speaker stacks hung down from the roof, about than thirty feet ahead and we were centered almost dead between.

Hosted by David Foster, performers for the night included Ellen DeGeneres, Tears for Fears, 17-year-old Las Vegan Erika Avila who won the "Grand Slam to Stardom" contest, Sarah McLachlan, Michael Buble, John Mayer and Robbie McIntosh, Counting Crows, Ben Stiller, Phil Collins, and several others. Ellen possibly summed it up best when she said something to the effect that ‘we were witnessing a compilation album being created right before our eyes.’

The down side to an event such as this, as I found out last evening, is that while there is a tremendous pool of talent from all corners of the entertainment industry, the focus is so sporadic that you only get a sampling of each performer’s talents. Tears for Fears has stage time for three songs, Sarah performed three stripped-down piano-and-voice-only songs, John Mayer performed an entirely acoustic with no more than two guitars and his voice, Michael Buble was a surprise hit performing two swinging songs plus an entertaining parody of Young Elvis versus Fat Elvis (hilarious), and then there were the Counting Crows.

Adam Duritz opened with that familiar electric guitar hum that we all recognize as the intro to Round Here. In front of the full-band, Duritz belted out note after note with absolutely no concern to saving his voice whatsoever. He was strong and seemed to emotionally teeter on the verge of breakdown as he re-arranged the oh-so familiar verses of the song with freedom and ease, taking the entire crowd on a roller-coaster ride of bi-polar beauty and despair. In all, this reincarnation clocked-in around the 11-minute mark and did not officially contain any alternate lyrics, but rather just a free-form arrangement of the original lyrics themselves.

From the last note of Round Here, A.D. quickly moved to the piano, uttering a humble and almost shy “thank-you” into the microphone before moving straight into A Long December. With Charlie on the accordion and Duritz at the keys, the stripped-down intro led gently into a rocking rendition with backing from the full band. With one false coda after another, Duritz weaved his voice through verse after verse, even occasionally dipping into Round Here territory, leaving those of us in the audience wondering just where he was taking us next.

Upon concluding this nearly ten-minute journey, an apologetic Duritz rushed off the stage after apparently playing beyond his allotted time. A two-song set was no-doubt extremely disappointing to his fans in the audience, but the Counting Crows rocked hard and gave us their all in two amazing renditions that left this fan in awe, feeling as if I had just witnessed something equally as special as hearing new material for the first time ever.

As the lazy-susan style stage quickly spun, removing all proof that Counting Crows were actually ever there at all, a bumbling Ben Stiller ushered on stage, uttering unnecessary comments about Mr. Duritz not being told he needed to wear shoes and complaining that he must not have been told to wear a tuxedo either. Phil Collins came on next making some remarks about being asked to ‘join the Grand Slam every year but always having an excuse not to,’ that made him look a callus jerk compared to all of the repeat performers saying that nothing could keep them away from such a worthy cause. Needless to say, that was our cue to leave.

The atmosphere and variety of performers elevated the event to an experience different from what I was expecting. Simply put, it was what it was. I was expecting a host of performers playing setlists ranging from four or five songs to around ten songs, increasing as more and more focus was placed on the next act – not so. Equal timeslots ensured that everyone got equal billing, but simultaneously limiting the performers from shining to their true potential. All performers except one. The Crows obviously followed through with what they saw as their best approach; rather than playing the three commercial, easily recognizable radio hits that seemed to fit the standard of the night, they ventured into a place of musical artistry that entranced the non-fans and provided something special to those fans that dropped anywhere from $50 to who-knows-how-much to hear their favorite band play a mere twenty minutes worth of music. In the end, it was special. In the end, it was memorable. In the end, I still wanted more, but who could blame me?

Offline Simon

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2006-10-07 Grand Slam review (long read)
« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2006, 01:28:40 AM »
Thanks for the review kromer!

Regards

Offline kromer891

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2006-10-07 Grand Slam review (long read)
« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2006, 05:14:53 AM »
I should also ask that my review please stay at tapecity. Feel free to post a link to this page however :)

Offline flips

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2006-10-07 Grand Slam review (long read)
« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2006, 09:27:31 AM »
That was a great read! Thank you.
I like soap bubbles.

My books: http://www.librarything.com/catalog/flips

Offline Dan33185

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2006-10-07 Grand Slam review (long read)
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2006, 12:42:47 AM »
what did Ben Stiller ever do besides The Royal Tennanbaums and being Frank Costanzas son? :p

Offline Starsky

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2006-10-07 Grand Slam review (long read)
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2006, 07:45:41 AM »
Quote from: Dan33185;203
what did Ben Stiller ever do besides The Royal Tennanbaums and being Frank Costanzas son? :p

Umm...he made out with hot chicks in Something About Mary, Meet the Parents, and Meet the Fockers.  He's my hero!

 

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