By Don Chareunsy, Vegas DeLuxe editor
As an undergraduate at Gonzaga University in the 1990s, my formative college years were made memorable by the music of many, but most especially Pearl Jam, Madonna, Nine Inch Nails, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Belly, Erasure, 10,000 Maniacs, The Cranberries and The Smiths and their frontman Morrissey.
As luck would have it, The Cranberries and Morrissey were in Las Vegas this past week, and their music transported me back to my Spokane, Wash., college campus days of flannel, long hair, Birkenstocks, Doc Martens, Eddie Bauer, Gap, Cafe Delicioso, The Onion, The Gonzaga Bulletin, the COG, Fr. Tom Miller, the late Dr. Michael Kirkhorn, Search Weekend and God.
Leading lens lady Denise Truscello captured The Cranberries at The Pearl, and contributing photographer Erik Kabik marked Morrissey at The Joint for our fabulous VegasDeLuxe.com photo galleries.
The Cranberries @The Pearl
Captivating and energetic frontwoman Dolores O’Riordan and her band The Cranberries, performing together for the first time in seven years, hit the stage shortly before 9 p.m. on Thursday, with O’Riordan shouting in her strong Irish brogue, “Viva Las Vegas!” O’Riordan, in a cranberry red-colored dress, natch, blue glitter eye shadow and black glitter Chuck Taylors, would be the center of attention for the next 80 minutes at The Pearl Concert Theater in the Palms.
The Cranberries’ incredible 22-song set: “How,” “Animal Instinct,” their breakout and biggest hit and audience favorite “Linger,” “Ordinary Day,” “Still Can’t …,” “You and Me,” “Dreamin,’ “When You’re Gone,” “Daffodil Lament” (a personal favorite), “I Can’t Be With You,” “Pretty,” “Ode to My Family,” “Free to Decide,” “Waltzing Back,” “Switch Off the Moment,” the fist-pumping “Salvation,” “Ridiculous Thoughts,” the hard-rocking audience favorite “Zombie” and the four-song encore of “Empty,” “The Journey,” “Promises” and “Dreams.”
I knew nearly every song, many of them from my college years. (My BFF and roommate Matt used to repeat Doo, doo, doo, doo … doo, doo, doo, doo from “Ode to My Family,” and my BFF Linda enjoyed taunting me with “Linger” -- Do you have to, do you have to, do you have to let it linger? -- in her bad Irish brogue.) O’Riordan’s distinctive voice is as strong as ever: breathy, haunting and piercing right to the heart. The Cranberries surprisingly renewed my spirit, and I would gladly see them in concert again.
The opening act, Griffin House, is a charming singer-songwriter guitarist with a beautiful voice whose banter in between songs was just as entertaining as his music. After strolling onstage, House announced, “I’m not Dolores,” to laughter. House’s set included “You Will Always Be My Girl,” “Standing at the Station,” Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” and “The Guy That Says Goodbye to You Is Out of His Mind.” It seems his only major shortcoming revealed onstage is that he’s a Denver Broncos fan. Boo!
Morrissey @The Joint
Morrissey, who since The Smiths’ break-up in 1987, has released nine solo studio albums, performed what was possibly the briefest and fastest concert I’ve ever attended as part of The Swords Tour at The Joint in the Hard Rock Hotel last night: 17 songs in about 60 minutes. No encore -- when the lights were turned on, the less-than-capacity crowd quickly exited The Joint, some fans grumbling about the short, hourlong set -- and no “Thank you, Las Vegas, and goodnight,” as my guest noted. A photojournalist friend said after the concert, “One hour? Seriously?”
This was my first Morrissey concert, so I was surprised to see him rip open his white dress shirt buttons, strip off the shirt and throw it into the crowd during his fourth song (Morrissey, 50, however, quickly changed into another shirt). The hourlong set included audience favorites from The Smiths days: “This Charming Man,” rocked out with electric guitars; “Ask”; and the show’s closer, “How Soon Is Now?” with a gong as a nice, loud, memorable touch. But no “Suedehead,” “Everyday Is Like Sunday” or “Tomorrow.” I also was surprised that the big screens weren’t in use -- were they broken?
Interestingly, Morrissey, who boasts a strong fan following from his days with The Smiths and his solo career, has never had a No. 1 song in Britain or charted in the Top 40 in the U.S. In fact, The Smiths never had a No. 1 single in Britain, and Morrissey’s only charting single in the U.S. is “The More You Ignore Me, the Closer I Get” from Vauxhall and I at No. 46 in 1994.
The opening act, Brighton, U.K. band Doll & the Kicks, performed for about 35 minutes, and lead singer Doll, of course, could be seen wandering around inside and outside The Joint after the band’s set in her Madonna outfit circa “Open Your Heart.” She is friendly, surprisingly tall and posed for photos with and hugged fans.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground. Read more of Robin's stories at VegasDeLuxe.com.
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