VIVA RED ROCK VEGAS

So I had a fine time in Las Vegas. Made it there in plenty of time Friday to take a shower, have dinner and get to my seat in the Orleans Showroom by eight to see Neil Sedaka in concert. After opening with “Bad Blood,” Neil played his hits in roughly chronological order, performing the late fifties-early sixties material first before heading into the songs I love from his second heyday in the seventies. Neil hasn’t lost a bit of his vocal range, easily handling a challenging song like “Solitaire.” He also had a few surprises for the audience, showing a video from the sixties of himself performing “Calendar Girl” with a bevy of Italian beauties and later singing a duet with his daughter Dara (who was there via videotape) of their 1980 hit, “Should’ve Never Let You Go.” He even played a classical piano solo!

In fact, my only disappointment was that Neil skipped over my favorite song of his, “The Immigrant,” which wouldn’t have been so bad except for the fact that when I accompanied my friend Fred Bronson backstage after the show, Fred mentioned to Neil how much I loved the song and Neil said he would have been happy to perform it if he had only known ahead of time! Oh well… at least I got to tell Neil that he was the only one of my favorite artists I hadn’t seen in concert, so I had to come to Las Vegas and see his show.

Otherwise, I spent the weekend checking out some of the changes that have occurred in the city since my last trip there in August. I visited the new hotel adjacent to the Venetian called the Palazzo, and took a look at some of the new bars and clubs at the Luxor. But I was most impressed by the Red Rock Casino Resort, which opened two years ago and is located about fifteen minutes away from the Strip in Summerlin. Just a nice modern hotel full of beautifully designed restaurants complete with a lovely pool area.

As for meals, aside from stuffing myself at the Red Rock’s buffet, I also ate prime rib at the Orleans’ Canal Street and had a wonderful cut of ahi tuna at the Bonefish Grill. And as always, I made a stop at Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop for lunch. This time the small restaurant was filled with a girl’s softball team whose bus was parked outside, but I still managed to get the last seat at the counter.

While I was in Las Vegas, I happened to turn on the TV on Saturday afternoon just in time to catch the week’s episode of “American Idol Rewind,” which featured Fred Bronson’s first appearance on “American Idol.” During Season Two, Fred was on the show teaching the contestants about the Billboard charts, which tied in with that week’s theme of number one hits from the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Of course, as fun as it was to see Fred on TV, it’s too bad Fred’s visit to the show coincided with the talented and affable Rickey Smith’s last week in the contest.

But if you didn’t get to see Fred on “Rewind” this week, don’t worry, because Fred will be making a return visit to “Idol” tomorrow night, giving his thoughts on the theme of the night, the Beatles. And of course, I’ll be back tomorrow night giving you my thoughts on the performances. See you then!

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