Cirque du Soleil’s The Beatles LOVE (Las Vegas)
They called it the British Invasion.
53 years ago today, the Beatles played their first concert in America. February 11th, 1964 — just days after the mop-top quartet from Liverpool made their inaugural journey across the pond — the overbooked Washington Coliseum in Washington, D.C., hosted the boys and the roaring hysterics of an adoring, Beatle-frenzied crowd.
August 29th, 1966 saw the end of the Beatles as a touring act, the four taking an American stage for the final time in San Francisco’s Candlestick Park. From there, the Beatles became a studio band.
By 1970, the Beatles split.
Half a century after the dissolution of rock & roll’s most iconic band, the Beatles, in a sense, returned to the stage in 2006. Inspired by the revolutionary and influential works of the original Fab Four — Paul, John, George and Ringo — Cirque du Soleil’s LOVE brings the timeless music of the Beatles to vibrant life.
Newly refreshed after celebrating its tenth anniversary last summer, the Las Vegas-exclusive LOVE is a vivid, kaleidoscopic expression of Beatlemania. LOVE is “the closest anyone can get to being in the studio with the band,” says music director Giles Martin, son of original Beatles producer Sir George Martin.
The show’s specially remixed soundtrack was shepherded by the Martins, and most of your favorites — including “Eleanor Rigby,” “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “Help!,” “Twist and Shout,” “Yesterday,” “Come Together” and “Hey Jude” — make appearances, with 120 songs sampled overall for 27 musical pieces.
The musical collage is “a new experience, a way of re-living the whole Beatles musical lifespan in a very condensed period,” says Giles Martin. Officially defined as a rock & roll poem inspired by the poetry of the Beatles’ lyrics, the show can be described as comparable to Walt Disney’s classic Fantasia — a loosely-defined story with individual segments connected by a musical thread.
LOVE is largely abstract, but the star here isn’t any kind of narrative or the story — populated by such Beatles-inspired characters as Eleanor Rigby, Father McKenzie, Doctor Robert, Lady Madonna and Sgt. Pepper — the real star is the spectacle and its accompanying soundtrack.
The melancholy “Because” starts the show, with performers descending from the ceiling to those haunting bars of “love is old, love is new.” From there, signifying the explosion of British Pop onto the music scene, the show pops into color, life and rock & roll with “Get Back.”
At first, the stage becomes a living Jackson Pollock painting — it’s a virtual free-for-all, with an excess of visual information to process and no real given direction to guide your eye. This is in part due to LOVE’s open and circular stage, which is great for having a nice vantage point of the entertainment, no matter the location your seats — you’re surrounded by something to see at all times — but LOVE is at its best when its focused and concentrated, combating the rare times it becomes a chaotic and confusing jumble. (That said, you could return to LOVE and see things you’ve missed — adding to the longevity of the show and essentially making for a new experience each time).
Unrestrained in its fantastical creativity and imagination, LOVE will dare you to name a more visually impressive show in Las Vegas. There’s always something eye-catching to behold, and the grand, lively production design is insane.
As LOVE takes audiences everywhere from the stars to a freaky circus act to life below the sea, the journey is accompanied by the kind of marvelous feats Cirque du Soleil’s unrivaled troupe of assembled performers are known for.
Dancers, aerialists, skaters and acrobats collide in LOVE, flipping, twirling, leaping, soaring and dancing with laser precision. The performers are so impressive they border on inhuman, with “Yesterday” — where a trapeze duet takes from the stage to the sky on a swing, revolving around one another in motion — inspiring both awe and anxiousness.
Dramatic, thrilling, funny, moving, energetic, all words to describe LOVE, the most accurate perhaps being “fun.” This is Las Vegas! Shows should be engaging and captivating and provide escapism and be fun. The pink-hued “Strawberry Fields Forever” portion, where bubbles give way to giant, lighter-than-air beach balls bouncing about the audience, inspired the kind of childlike wonder you see too little of in a Las Vegas theater.
This gives way to the psychedelic “Within You Without You / Tomorrow Never Knows” segment, in which a giant sheet is passed over the audience — making for one hell of a trip. As simplistic as it sounds, I’ve never seen anything like it. “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” and “Octopus’s Garden” were my favorite portions of the show, having been transported from a star-filled galaxy to a spirited undersea adventure just moments apart.
Cirque’s theatrical showmanship is as on-point as ever, with enough music, technology and act variety to keep you involved and on your figurative toes for its 90 minute running time. Come the splashy finale, where all of LOVE’s performers come together for “All You Need Is Love,” you’ll be resistant to leaving this groovy, ‘60s-inspired getaway.
A dynamic love-letter to the Beatles, their spirit and the music that defined and forever changed a generation, LOVE is perfect for non-fans and Beatlemaniacs alike. All you need is LOVE, and it comes highly recommended. Shows run at 7:00 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., Thursday through Monday at The Mirage. Buy tickets here or call 800-963-9634 or The Mirage box office at 702-792-7777.