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Irsay, Davis nearly move free rock show to Allegiant Stadium

Updated March 5, 2023 - 9:03 am

Jim Irsay called an audible, then took a time out.

The rocking owner of the Indianapolis Colts found himself in dire straits (lowercase) early Friday evening. The Jim Irsay Collection memorabilia exhibition and rock show needed to move from its scheduled Saturday night start time. The forecast called for gusts up to 50 mph throughout Las Vegas on Saturday night.

Those gales would easily be strong enough to blow over tents, and knock the likes of Stephen Stills, Billy F. Gibbons and Kevin Cronin off their spindles at the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center.

This show needed to adjust its time, or head indoors.

Irsay got on the phone with a fellow owner who had keys to a building that could host such an event.

“We had to make this switch with the timing, and I talked to Mark Davis, and we were going to go over to the Raiders’ stadium, but it didn’t work out,” Irsay said at the side of the DLVEC stage. “There was just too much equipment and too little time. But he was gracious, and he was willing to work with us.”

Davis confirmed that was the case, saying Friday night that he would have been fine to allow the rock show in Allegiant Stadium.

The show stayed at DLVEC, with a quick announcement Friday night that the start time would be moved to noon (doors at 11). There was even brief discussion of moving it to Sunday, but the artists were almost all booked to head out in different directions on a half-dozen private jets.

But the fans turned out. At least 3,100 were in the doors within the first hour of the show, with the total tally expected to reach pre-show estimates of 5,000.

That crowd was treated to a fantastic, no-cover show.

Stills performed “Almost Cut My Hair” in honor of the late David Crosby, leading a string of memorable performances.

Cronin unleashed “Ridin’ The Storm Out,” the song that sent REO Speedwagon to stardom. Gibbons raced through “Sharp Dressed Man” and “La Grange.” R.E.M.’s Mike Mills performed “Superman,” which is a song that isn’t just played by original band members anywhere, with R.E.M. latent and with Mills rarely performing live. Vince Gill, who only just met Irsay Saturday morning, performed a 20-minute set.

Kenny Aronoff, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and actor/musician Danny Nucci were also in the blistering backing band.

Irsay compares himself to Willy Wonky in these events, simply setting the stage for the frivolity. This was his first foray into Vegas with his memorabilia-rock show.

“You know, Vegas is so incredible, there is a tremendous opportunity here and people are excited to be in the middle of downtown,” Irsay said. “What makes this special is that these are residents who live here, people that work in the hotels, serve the food and clean the rooms, and they’re able to come out and have this kind of time. I am happy, because that’s what it’s all about.”

Irsay himself closed the show by singing Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” and another classic by the Rolling Stones. He recited the song title as the wind finally kicked up and nearly blew away the tent covering stage left.

“Hey, it’s ‘Gimme Shelter’ time, right now,” Irsay said with a laugh. “But we got this crazy show in, and I am thankful.”

Eagle, Raider reunion

As Irsay performed in rehearsals downtown, Davis was at Westgate’s International Theater for Don Felder’s headlining performance. Felder, the former member of the Eagles, had played halftime of the Raiders-Broncos game at Allegiant on Oct. 2. Guitar virtuoso Orianthi also played that day.

Felder had said he was going to do something “subtle” during the show to honor Davis and the Raiders.

He showed up in a Raiders T-shirt under his black-leather jacket.

“That’s subtle enough,” Davis said. “It’s Raiders, and it’s rock and roll.”

Cronin redoubles

Cronin said REO Speedwagon is still seeking options for a “Hi Infidelity” series in Las Vegas. He mentioned this concept a the Keep Memory Alive Power of Love event last month at MGM Grand.

Cronin said he has been in talks with Vegas power players about bringing a rock residency to the city this year.

“It’s a risky move, so we want to pick the right venue, and the right time,” Cronin said prior to Saturday’s concert. “We have a couple of venues that are interested. I think we’ll really push for something once the summer tour season is over. But I am very interested in this idea.”

Plugging in with Bob

Shepherd played one of the most famous instruments in rock, the Fender Stratocaster that Bob Dylan played at the Newport Jazz Festival on July 25, 1965. This was the performance when Dylan “went electric,” sparking a cry of “Judas!” from the crowd. Irsay bought the instrument for $965,000 a decade ago.

According to lore, folk icon Pete Seeger was so upset at the performance that he threatened to cut the cord. Seeger later said he was not angry with the electrified instrument, but the awful sound system, which made Dylan’s song, “Maggie’s Farm,” inaudible. But the story, and the instrument, lives on.

Your VegasVille Moment

Carrot Top burst in, like out of nowhere, during my chat with Cronin. These guys are buddies. Never saw him coming.

What works in Vegas

Frankie Valli at Westgate’s International Theater. The founding member of the Four Seasons and rock ‘n’ roll legend has about sold out his two shows Friday and Saturday night.

Cool Hang Alert

Boot up and scoot over to Wild West Wednesdays featuring Mach Five at Barbershop Cuts & Cocktails at the Cosmopolitan. No cover. Show starts at 10 p.m. Shave and a haircut, optional.

PodKats! Episodes

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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