Alcohol was not served during Van Morrison’s September 25 performance. Allow that to sink in for a moment. At Morrison’s request, a Las Vegas casino agreed to halt the sale of booze for nearly two hours on a Friday night, despite the presence of some 3,000 captive customers. Unusual, to say the least, but not a surprise to the Hard Rock Hotel, according to VP for Entertainment Paul Davis: “We were fully aware of their request before the show ever confirmed. It is the same in all of the venues where [Morrison] is currently playing. We served from time of doors until he went onstage, which struck a balance between his needs and those of our patrons.” Still, a fair number of showgoers seemed stunned by the restriction (reportedly a by-product of Morrison’s own battles with addiction over the years); some complained loudly upon learning they could only score soda or water at the back bar, and many streamed toward a makeshift drink stand just outside the venue proper.
Stuff I’ve never seen at a Vegas show, Part 2: An older gentleman in the crowd, well-dressed, sporting a ... marionette (yeah, one of those stick- and wire-controlled puppet thingies), which he manipulated for a series of dance moves during the early portion of Morrison’s performance. The real show: watching the faces of passersby as they caught a glimpse of puppet guy.
My personal tour of the new Joint’s viewing areas continues: standing-room up front (Wilco, Underworld), ground-floor seating (Santana), third-level seating (Kings of Leon) and now, general admission for a floor-seated show. As in the old Joint, this means standing by the back bar, but remember, the new Joint is far longer, so being in the back means being in the baaack. From my vantage point, Morrison looked—and far worse, sounded—pretty distant, and I’m guessing I wouldn’t have heard anything at all had the bar been its typically active self. So buyer beware: The cheap seats ($71 this time) ain’t all they’re cracked up to be.