Friday, August 28, 2009

SW & Le Reve @ Wynn

ABH's annual work retreat sees the group heading to SW and Le Reve at the Wynn this year.
I almost didn't make it because of work, but when a free dinner is on the cards at your favorite steakhouse in Las Vegas, you tend to find away. And my timing couldn't be more perfect. I got the restaurant just as they were serving a giant seafood platter for everyone. Crab legs, shrimp, oysters, ahi tuna...all good. And then a perfectly cooked petite filet for my main. Because we were pushed for time so as to make the show, the experience of the restaurant was not as good as it had been in the past, but the good great nonetheless.

Le Reve is a show that I love to see (this is my 3rd time) and again it did not disappoint. There have been different elements to the show each time, but it still amazes me the agility and strength of the performers. And I have to ask, how do you come to the thought that you can perform these type of "stunts"? (I say stunts as the first time you do any of these acrobatics, it has to be dangerous). An entertaining and mind-blowing show was enjoyed by all 14 of us there.
After the show we had a couple of drinks with the Hills before I called it a night early. (Damn 7am starts on a Saturday!) The rooms at the Wynn are still very elegant and ours had a great view south, overlooking the Strip, however all we did is sleep in them.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Amy's Graduation Weekend

After 20 months of some of the hardest work I have ever seen anyone do, Amy has come to the conclusion of her Global MBA at Thunderbird, and no one could be prouder than me.

She had been in Phoenix for the last week, finishing classes - and winding down with the rest of the class. I flew down on a flight landing mid Thursday afternoon and met up with her after finishing her last class. Later that afternoon the school had a small welcoming function for family and friends of the 3 different classes graduating tomorrow. Was an affair that I got to meet all the people who's names I had been hearing about for the last 2 years. A bunch of very relieved people.

Then party then moved to a residence of someone's friend from the class. A great get together where we watched a photo montage of trials and tribulations of the course. The students then gave their family members a certificate of appreciation for the support they had given then during their study. Things got crazier afterwards when we ended up at the Thunderbird Pub. A lot more people were letting their hair down.

Friday was Graduation Day and after breakfast in the cafeteria, Amy left for early preparations for the day, and I drove a colleagues' husband to the Marriott for the ceremony. She looked fantastic in her cap and gown and to see her walk and receive her degree was such a mixture of emotions. Elated. Relieved. Proud. Excited. But most of all, Happy for her. I was surprised that at the end of the ceremony that everyone went their own way. I supposed everyone was just so thankful that it was done, that they needed time to themselves.

The Graduate & The Proud Husband

Later that evening we drove across Phoenix to Lon's At The Hermosa Inn and had dinner with Amy's fellow graduate, and good fiend, Tom. This restaurant was fantastic - great food, good service, great company and an southwestern ambiance - even when the lights flickered out twice during a thunderstorm, the likes I had not seen in a very long time. I sense that Tom is someone Amy will keep in contact with now that school is all over - a very smart man, who was a great help to Amy throughout. After dinner we met with the group again at the Thunderbird Pub to continue the celebrations.

Saturday morning we made our way back to Vegas in the Mini - through torrential rain for most of the way. Amy made a great observation of how much prettier the desert is in Arizona than it is in Nevada. That greenery makes a world of difference. A good 5 hours later and we were back home. A quick Nanna nap in the afternoon and we were ready for the evening's festivities. We were to meet 7 others from Amy's class at Sushisamba at the Palazzo for dinner. Fun crowd and great food before we kicked on to Lavo and Tao. The night and celebrations ended for us not long after 1am. I'm pretty sure Amy had a blast over the weekend, and I'm so glad, as she deserved it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Down & Melvins @ House Of Blues

The Melvins - one of the most unique bands anywhere - and one that I haven't seen often enough (this was my 4th Melvins show). It seems like an odd mix, Melvins supporting Down, but it works for me. The Melvins walked on stage while the house lights were still on, to no fanfare and just started to rock as only they can. Moz saw them earlier in the year play Houdini in Sydney as a 3 piece, but tonight they were back to a 4 piece twin-drum musical assault. Big fan of the guys from Big Business being in the band - same line up from when I saw them at Celebrity a couple of years back. I love the Houdini and Stoner Witch albums, so the setlist tonight was unfamiliar to me, but a highlight was definitely a blistering cover of Devo's Mr DNA. We certainly got a full 45 minutes out of the band as "Thank You" were the only spoken words from the band as they finished their set.

Crowd seemed a restless at the end of the Melvins, and when Down come on they went out of control. I've never seen the HOB security have such a rough night - but I gotta say they did a pretty good job. I saw Pantera 13 years ago in Oz, and had an absolute blast, so was pretty interested to see Phil and Rex's latest incarnation. So there was a bit of disappointment when there was no Rex. And I'm not sure if Phil's voice or the sound guy were having problems, but it took a while for them to get in the swing of things. When they did, however, Down put on a good show. Which means the band and crowd compliment each other. A small but wild pit middled the fans singing along with fists raised, while constantly the band stopped to acknowledge their legion of fans. I'm not really one for metal anymore, and while I probably won't see them again, I'm glad I got to see Down.

Down Setlist
Ghosts Along The Mississippi / Lysergik Funeral Procession / Pillars Of Eternity / Lifer / The Path / Losing All / N.O.D. / Something On My Side / Hail The Leaf / Nothing In Return
Encore: Stone The Crow / Bury Me In Smoke

The Crap Facts:
This is my 290th concert.
This is my 32nd concert at House Of Blues.
This is my 88th concert in Las Vegas.
This is my 88th concert in Nevada.
This is my 97th concert in the USA.
This is my 4th Melvins concert.
Melvins are the 50th band I've seen at least 4 times
Down are the 359th band I've seen.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Lion King @ Mandalay Bay

An invite was issued to the Concierge Association to check out the 100th Las Vegas performance of The Lion King. That, and free food and drinks - who were ABH and I to say no?

A function at Eye Candy, the bar in the middle of Mandalay Bay, gave us a couple of free drinks and a tasting of 5 restaurants from the resort. We got our tickets (and coffee mug gift) and filed in for the show. Much to our surprise, our seats were in the 3rd row, just right of center. Sweet!

From the moment the cast walks down the aisles in their animal costumes you are enthralled for the next two and bit hours. The story closely resembles the Disney cartoon (from memory), and the cast are superb. Costuming is spectacular and all the performers do such a great job of bringing the cartoon to life. It'd be a hard person to please if they didn't like this.

This show is dynamite, and brings another option for families to take kids to a show - though with tickets ranging from $53 - $168 your kids better enjoy it!

Friday, August 7, 2009

No Doubt & Panic At The Disco @ The New Joint

Many, many years ago a band played the Coogee Bay Hotel, supported by Unwritten Law and The Porkers. Who were these nobodies? How did they get a headlining gig over two great bands? I'm not going in to see them! 10 years later I saw this band - No Doubt - and kicked myself for not seeing them sooner.

Amy and I got in early, after a great dinner at Paymons, to see Panic At The Disco. I knew of one song and considering the price of the ticket ($130) thought I'd get my money's worth with both bands. Panic At The Disco were easily forgettable for me - but as usual the youngsters enjoyed them. Their last song "I Write Sins, Not Tragedies" was a redeeming feature of the set.

Panic At The Disco Setlist
Time To Dance / But It's Better If You Do / The Only Difference Between Martyrdom & Suicide Is Press Coverage / That Green Gentleman (Things Have Changed) / Lying Is The Most Fun A Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off / Northern Downpour / New Perspective / Nine In The Afternoon / I Write Sins Not Tragedies

From the start No Doubt were on fire! From behind a white curtain, No Doubt strolled out to much fanfare and applause and instantly raised the energy level inside the Joint. I'm not a huge fan of the music on CD, but live, Gwen Stefani brings a new dimension with stage presence which you can't help but be drawn to. Hella Good was the song I wanted to hear most - and they played it 2nd - and it was beyond great. If they'd played that continuously all night, I'd have to have been taken out on a stretcher. What also makes their performance great is their love of their fans. Twice she pulled fans onto the stage, read signs made by the crowd, took a scrapbook gift from a fan and kept the banter going all night. The rest of the band all have a skill and showmanship that outweighs a lot of bands I've seen, but it is just so hard not to watch Gwen. She is simply the greatest front woman I've seen. Who else in the world can make the men in the room sing "I'm just a girl in the world"?
Imagine how good they probably were at Selinas all those years ago. That was a bad decision that I rectified with Amy at the Joint. Will definitely make the effort to catch them again.

No Doubt Setlist
Spiderwebs / Hella Good / Underneath It All / Excuse Me Mr / Ex-Girlfriend / End It On This / Simple Kind Of Life / Bathwater / Guns Of Navarone / New / Hey Baby / Running / Different People / Don’t Speak / It’s My Life / Just A Girl
Encore: Rock Steady / Sunday Morning

The Crap Facts:
This is my 289th concert.
This is my 3rd concert at The New Joint.
This is my 87th concert in Las Vegas.
This is my 87th concert in Nevada.
This is my 96th concert in the USA.
Panic At The Disco are the 357th band I've seen.
No Doubt are the 358th band I've seen.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Las Vegas, NV to Newport Beach, CA

Ahhh a nice relaxing weekend at the beach - catching up with some family and some friends.

We left early Friday July 31, for the 4 hour drive from Las Vegas to San Clemente, where we are to meet the Naags' for lunch. It's been over 2 years since we last saw them in Coronado. We meet at the Beachfire Grill in the middle of San Clemente. Both are looking good and seem really happy. A bit sad Baden couldn't be there, but it sounds like it was good for them to get away without their son for an afternoon. Amy's brother joined us during lunch. Drew is staying with us at Newport for the weekend. After lunch the Naags' took us down to San Clemente Pier where we had drinks at Fisherman's Restaurant looking out over the ocean.

The drive up to Newport on the Pacific Coast Highway should have been a quick one but Friday afternoon traffic was slow and laborious. We checked in to the Hyatt, where we've stayed a few times before, and had a newly renovated room tucked in a corner in the Lido building. By the time we arrive Drew is not well and relaxes while Amy and I take in the pool. He is still too unwell to come to dinner with us, and we head off to Harborside Grill on the peninsula side of Newport. This is a favorite spot from last time we were here, and again the dinner was great, and the view - perfection - watch boats cruising between us and Balboa Island. Picked up some supplies for Drew on the way home.

Got up on Saturday and walked to Balboa Island for breakfast at Wilma's Patio. After breakfast we walked around the island a little bit, but Drew is getting sicker, so we head back to the hotel. Amy's a little worried so we stay close and camp out by the pool for the day. We were out there for about 7 hours (which has to be some sort of record for me). What a relaxing day, with just Amy, my iPod and an Esquire magazine to keep me entertained. Drew is still not well enough to come out for dinner again, but we head to Oysters in Corona Del Mar (at the recommendation of the Doorman) for dinner. This place was awesome. Food was soooo good! And the jazz trio just made for a perfect ambiance. I had a perfectly cooked rib-eye and Amy's halibut was just perfect. And the chocolate lava cake we split for desert was to die for. Originally I had booked a water-view restaurant, but I'm glad we changed our mind to eat here instead.

Drew is marginally better Sunday morning, but a trip to the urgent care is on the cards to make sure all is good. Doctor says the problem is viral and Drew is happy to continue resting and not worry about the prescription. We leave him at the hotel and head over to the beach. Parking is a nightmare but, Amy spots a secret space and we are set for an hour. The surf is kinda rough. 4-5 foot waves breaking right on the beach, and a rip just beyond the waves in an area too deep to stand. But it's just nice to be on the beach. Everyone is relaxed and having a great time - us included. I don't handle the sun as well as yesterday and we head back with the dreaded thought of packing and driving back to Vegas. Drew is well enough to come to lunch with us, and we head back to Corona Del Mar to Gulfsteam. Just lunch food, but everyone enjoyed their meals (shame we didn't wait for a table outside though). After lunch we packed the car and made the uneventful drive back to Vegas, making it back in good time. We left Drew behind as he flew out of Orange County on Monday morning.

As per usual, we didn't want to leave, but it was nice to get away from the Vegas heat and relax for the weekend.