Why don't they stage more concerts at the Planet Hollywood Theatre for the Performing Arts? There are only a handful of upcoming events listed on the hotel's website, most of which are stand-up comedy. It's been years since I was last at the Theatre (back when the hotel was still the Aladdin, and I was seeing, uh, "Weird Al" Yankovic), but tonight's concert by Sheryl Crow reminded me of what a great music venue this is, with clear, strong sound, a smart layout and a decent size somewhere between the intimacy of a place like The Joint and the enormity of the arenas at MGM Grand and Mandalay Bay.
Whether it was the fact that Crow isn't quite the star she once was or just poor marketing on the part of a hotel that clearly doesn't know what to do with its concert venue, the Theatre was only perhaps two-thirds full (the balcony was almost entirely empty) for the concert, and the older-than-expected audience was fairly sedate for most of Crow's 100-minute performance. She put on a solid show, though, mixing a healthy dose of songs from her high-quality but low-selling new album Detours into the fairly predictable greatest-hits set.
Highlights included solo acoustic opener "God Bless This Mess," hometown favorite "Leaving Las Vegas" and exuberant sing-along "Out of Our Heads," the latest single from Detours. The momentum only slowed when an uncomfortable-looking James Blunt (the show's opening act) came out to warble his way through a duet of Cat Stevens' "The First Cut Is the Deepest," and when Crow sort of talk-sang a short rant about oil prices and the war before launching into new tune "Gasoline."
Otherwise things moved smoothly, and Crow's eight-piece band was tight and polished. She jokingly introduced all of the members as hailing from Vegas-area towns (mispronouncing Pahrump as "Pahroomp," but scoring points for name-checking Indian Springs and Bullhead City), and finally got the audience on its feet for the main-set closing duo of "Soak Up the Sun" and "Everyday Is a Winding Road." The encore finale of Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground" was really the only surprise of the night, but Crow never seemed like she was just going through the motions, and both the familiar hits and new tunes sounded great filling the Theatre. Now if only they'd schedule someone else to perform there soon.