The Hard Rock’s new concert venue debuts strongly
Thu, Apr 23, 2009 (midnight)
Photo: Tiffany Brown
Marie Parella stood almost in the middle of the floor at the new Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel, but her mind had drifted to another place and time.
“I saw them at Shea Stadium, in 1965,” said Parella, who paid $200 for her ticket. “I got a ticket from a friend. They were $5.50. I couldn’t hear them, but who cares? I saw them.” In this case, “them” were The Beatles, and on this night Parella was one of 4,000 fans awaiting a landmark performance by Paul McCartney during a whirlwind weekend of shows at the Hard Rock’s new music hall. Asked to compare the climate on this night, April 19, and that August evening in New York some 44 years ago, she said, “It’s safer. It was pretty dangerous that night [at Shea]. Kids were running down the aisles, onto the field, getting tackled by cops.
“I was 13 years old and was sure I was going to marry Paul McCartney.”
Parella, who by the time she exited her teens had given up hope of marrying The Beatles’ bassist, had not seen McCartney perform since, with more than four decades spanning the two shows. But she got a heavy helping of Sir Paul that night in a two-and-a-half-hour performance that capped a full weekend of performances, including a lively opening-night show by Vegas’ own The Killers on April 17 and a rough-and-tumble performance by Avenged Sevenfold on the Saturday between. The arena is essentially the old Joint on HGH, larger and muscled-up, with seven VIP suites and a more comfortable balcony seating area than the old place. Some in the nether regions complained about obstructed views from the back row, but the floor setup is a lot more fan-friendly than the old place, as the floor is slightly angled and segmented off with railings to better keep concertgoers in place. More rowdy shows at the old Joint were a bit of a free-for-all, and this design deters most of the jostle-bustle (but reports out of the Avenged Sevenfold show were that the mosh pit was so wild that one fan left with a broken nose and several others were bloodied from the experience). The Joint’s stage is its most effective improvement—arena-sized productions are now possible in the 4,000-capacity (3,000 when the folding chairs are set on the floor) concert hall, making the new Joint seem even smaller than its listed capacity.
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For opening weekend, in booking the in-their-prime Killers and the legendary McCartney, AEG Live/Concerts West officials effectively hedged their bets to open the new venue. McCartney’s reliably fulfilling set list and universally familiar catalog could ward against the possibility of a lackluster performance by The Killers, who, after just three major releases, do not own a similarly meaty body of work from which to choose. But both acts were in outstanding form, and aside from one good dose of feedback at the start of The Killers’ “All These Things That I’ve Done,” there were hardly any problems with the sound in either show.
After McCartney finally called it an evening (he closed by saying, “We had a great time opening night of the Joint!”), Morgans Hotel Group Hard Rock Hotel President Randy Kwasniewski gazed out over the floor, still packed with murmuring fans. “We’ll spend the week evaluating what we can do to make things better, yes,” he said. Opening the hotel’s second parking garage, which should happen within the month, would be an enormous help. Hundreds of fans were without parking Sunday as Sir Paul sold out the new Joint and Snoop Dogg was the star attraction at the opening of the Rehab pool party. But in the blush of the first weekend, Kwasniewski was not about to complain. “I am ecstatic. We just have to make sure we put the right bands in here, is all.”