iHeartRadio Fest’s big names bring the heat to MGM Grand

Levine and Maroon 5 had moves like, well, you know.
Photo: Steve Marcus

“Fire good” feels like the most apt way to describe the performances at iHeartRadio Music Festival, held Friday and Saturday nights at MGM’s Grand Garden Arena. The Clear Channel-sponsored music carnival also showcased an offshoot event at the Lot—called the Village for this event—across the Strip from the Luxor.

Most acts seemed to lean on pyrotechnics. Paul McCartney lit up “Live and Let Die,” and Bruno Mars, Maroon 5, Ke$ha, Drake and Justin Timberlake were among others who used pyro to make a point. The arena was often so filled with fire and smoke that the Human Torch could have been performing as a backing dancer and no one would have noticed. Other, less-combustible thoughts from the show:

Britney Spears owns this town. So she claims. The new Planet Hollywood headliner was introduced as, “The new queen of Las Vegas,” then produced some hyperbole with, “You guys are in my town now,” before presenting the ubiquitous Miley Cyrus.

I wanna party with Ke$ha. She pulled on a bottle of Jack Daniel’s, took a beer from a fan, kissed another, nearly toppled over while dancing, was carried by a backing dancer in a chicken suit, slammed away on a single drum, spat whipped cream into the front row and finally restored order by bringing which docile artist to the stage? Joan Jett. Cirque should build a show around this woman.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. praises Justin—but not that Justin. The champion boxer presented Justin Timberlake by saying, “I’m honored to introduce the heavyweight champion of music, Justin Timberlake!” It was the second time in eight days Mayweather appeared at the Grand Garden Arena with a superstar Justin. On September 14, he was accompanied to the ring by Justin Bieber for his bout against Canelo Alvarez.

Adam Levine has serious cred. Maroon 5 has been around since 1994, when band members were still in high school, and they’re superstars now. When Levine surfed through “Moves Like Jagger,” you felt that someday a budding rocker who’s now in high school will sing about having moves like that guy. That set was a full-scale assault, one of many during a weekend when 15 hours seemed … just about right.

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