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‘Short and sweet’: Music superstars fill up F1 opening party on Strip

Updated November 18, 2023 - 1:12 pm

The Kats! Bureau at this writing is at Cosmopolitan’s sports book, where myself and a couple dozen buoyant visitors are watching the Las Vegas Grand Prix opening party. It’s playing on ESPN2, delayed from earlier at the grandstands at LVGP’s pit facility.

Journey is performing “Don’t Stop Believin’” and just crushing it. It’s a message we believe in. Neal Schon is having a great time. I know he enjoyed the show because earlier he texted how excited he was to perform at the first F1 event in Las Vegas.

Schon also said, “The big news is me and Jonahan Cain and I are back on track.”

Journey fans know the rockers have been at odds for few years. No more. They walked onstage with their arms around each other.

Journey played just that one, epic song, joyously recited by Arnel Pineda.

The band was on stage for less than three minutes.

“Wicked short and sweet,” is how Schon described it.

The reason I’m in the Cosmo sportsbook watching this show is fairly simple: I support clean-water initiatives.

Specifically, the One Drop Foundation, which hosted “One Night for One Drop” at Marquee Nightclub just upstairs from here. I swung into the charity event, created by founded by Cirque du Soleil its co-founder Guy Laliberte, a move that would cost me precious time.

F1 legend Jackie Stewart was among the invited guests at “One Night.” I hung for a while, chatting up Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Heath co-founders Larry and Camille Ruvo; Lynette Chappell, long of the Siegfried & Roy empire; Cashman Photography owner and CEO Robert Dolan; former Cirque official Jerry Nadal and his husband, current “Enchant” exec Gene Lubas; Las Vegas Super Bowl Committee President and CEO Sam Joffray; Corner Bar Management founder Ryan Doherty; Cirque execs Eric Grilly and Stéphane Lefebvre; “Particle Ink” at Luxor visionary Jennifer Tuft; MGM Resorts International execs Chris Baldizan and Laura Ishum, and PR wizard Dave Kirvin.

I tried to make it to Perez Hilton, dressed as the Candy King, but was picked off by the “Fantasy” at Luxor cast.

You might see where I’m going. Trying to shoehorn a major gala with such name-checks into a night when multiple superstars are opening F1 in Vegas is a fool’s folly. I left “One Night” at about 7:30 p.m. That’s about when the star-studded F1 show was to begin. I hoofed it along Harmon Avenue, across the pedestrian bridge above the race course’s front straightaway on the Strip.

I then summoned a pedi-cab (and let’s talk numbers, an $80 luxury ride not including tip). Arrived at 7:50 p.m., where was the inevitable snag in accessing the event (which I won’t bore you with, but it involved some hasty texting).

Then fireworks, at which I mumbled, “Oh, spit,” because that is the universally accepted end of a festival.

Then it started to drizzle. Fans muttered on their way out about the 30-minute show, in which such stars as Journey,Andra Day, Bishop Briggs, J Balvin, John Legend, Journey, Keith Urban, Kylie Minogue, Steve Aoki, Tiësto and Thirty Seconds to Mars performed one song each.

Hey, those are the breaks, if not brakes. An F1 official said this was the plan and the show wasn’t cut.

I had expected an F1-length event. This was more like a drag race.

To be candid, my experience in Vegas failed me. Arriving even 30 minutes late for 7:30 p.m. start, especially for a multi-act production, should leave plenty of time to catch most of the show. I have waited 90 minutes past the posted start time for shows begin. But hey, we’ll wait for JLo. Or Guns N’ Roses. Or Enrique Iglesias.

But F1 is a precision experience. Lesson learned, as I hit the finish line with this column and head for “Lights Out!” Ross Mollison’s one-off show based on the precision of a pit crew.

We’re ready to drop the green again, this time on time, for F1.

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 X, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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