What Mariah Carey’s new Caesars residency means for the Strip

Mariah Carey’s new Vegas show begins July 5.
Photo: Dennis Leupold / Courtesy

Tickets went on sale last week for Mariah Carey’s second residency at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace. The Butterfly Returns, described as a more intimate show digging deeper into her catalog, begins July 5.

Carey’s first run on the Las Vegas Strip, No. 1 to Infinity, lasted more than two years and ended last summer, though the superstar singer returned in December for a series of Christmas-themed concerts. So despite some behind-the-scenes talk about Carey resurfacing in a different, smaller venue, it wasn’t a surprise when Caesars Palace announced she’d be returning to the Colosseum, which loses one of its most popular shows when Elton John wraps it up this month.

The difference with this Mariah show is the promoter. Live Nation Entertainment—which handles resident headliner productions from Gwen Stefani, Jennifer Lopez, Lionel Richie, Backstreet Boys and Pitbull at the Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood, among its many Vegas efforts—has a new worldwide deal with Carey. Butterfly will be its first concert residency at the Colosseum.

“Everybody wanted her back. It was just a function of when and how do we put a deal together to give her the opportunity to create the new show she wanted to do,” Live Nation Las Vegas President Kurt Melien says. Carey’s previous show had her performing all 18 of her No. 1 hits and nothing else. “She was a little restricted by that, creatively, because there are some songs she’s passionate about that are not No. 1s. This show will still have all the hits and some fan favorites. I think she’s going to be in Las Vegas for a long time. She belongs here.”

Carey’s first run was promoted by AEG Presents, another mega-producer that gets credit for creating the modern music residency model in Las Vegas with Celine Dion. AEG has operated the Colosseum since it opened in 2003 and its arrangement with Caesars Palace hasn’t changed. It’s not an exclusive room, as other companies have booked events in the Colosseum; expect more Live Nation shows there this year.

Both companies book concerts and events up and down the Strip and have played essential roles in Las Vegas’ development as a live entertainment mecca. Live Nation is bringing a Blink-182 residency to the Pearl at the Palms and has produced limited engagements from Rascal Flatts, Chicago, ZZ Top, Il Divo and Earth, Wind & Fire at the Venetian. AEG is the exclusive promoter at the Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel and has brought headliners like Tony Bennett, John Fogerty, Diana Ross and Alabama to the Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas.

“My organization, among others, has doubled down to continue to expand the portfolio of artists across as many genres as we can, because this is such an eclectic city,” Melien says. “There’s so much diversity in the 42 million people coming to Las Vegas. This is an incredibly powerful town with so much to offer.”

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Brock is an award-winning writer and reporter who has been documenting life in Las Vegas for 20 years. He currently ...

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