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9 memorable concerts that rocked The Joint in Las Vegas

The Rolling Stones, Metallica, Drake, Kenny Chesney, Bon Jovi — the list goes on, though the same can’t be said of the storied Las Vegas venue they all once played.

The Hard Rock Hotel will close Monday, taking The Joint with it.

All those acts performed at either the original Joint, which Mötley Crüe closed out in February 2009, or the current incarnation of the concert hall that opened two months later.

The venue will remain in operation when the property reopens as the Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, tentatively scheduled for later this year.

Until then, here are some of the many memorable shows we covered at The Joint:

Beastie Boys, Oct. 23, 2006

Scene: Skilled at making a two-minute, curled-lip punk tantrum sound right at home next to a cowbell-driven funk workout or an old-fashioned battle rap, the Beastie Boys were one of hip-hop’s most inimitable acts. This was their final Las Vegas show and took place in a packed room.

What we said: “The Beasties did it all with the ceaseless energy of kids at recess, bounding about the stage, running laps around each other, wearing bright smiles beneath their dark shades. The crowd responded in kind, as this night was an exercise in dancing in confined spaces — can’t remember the last time we saw so many white dudes doing the robot — and practically everyone in the house wore at least some of their neighbor’s beer, which was spilled liberally.”

Sex Pistols, June 7, 2008

Scene: With frontman Johnny Rotten’s trademark snarl potent enough to enjoin a whole generation of disaffected youth to poke safety pins through their flesh, the Sex Pistols remain among the most influential punk bands ever. This one-off U.S. show was the Pistols’ last American gig.

What we said: “With an emphasis on torque and testosterone, the Pistols delivered all the hits in loose, occasionally roughshod fashion, with the band playing almost deliberately sloppy at times, such as on a herky-jerky version of ‘Sub-Mission.’ But to dissect the Pistols’ playing is like critiquing the dialogue in a Roger Corman flick: It’s not about subtlety or refinement; it’s about power, attitude and audacity. It’s the difference between ‘Schindler’s List’ and ‘Death Race 2000.’ ”

The Killers, April 17, 2009

Scene: Some bands merely hail from a city; others distill its properties like strands of DNA. Disentangle the double helix of artifice and artistry that forms the genetic makeup of Las Vegas, and you get The Killers, who strive to embody both the glitzier-than-thou sheen of Sin City as well as its dust-coated conscience. As such, the band was a fitting choice to open the current incarnation of The Joint on this night.

What we said: “They dress like the rock stars that they are in glittery sport coats and designer tiger-print threads but pen tunes about the kind of blue-collar dreamers whose weekly paychecks probably couldn’t cover one of singer Brandon Flowers’ crystal-encrusted shirts. It’s not a contradiction; it’s the stuff that this city is made of. Like their hometown, The Killers are populist and elitist in the very same breath, and the masses love them for it. This was apparent at the christening of the Joint. The venue’s large open floor was packed with a smitten throng of revelers who bounced up and down for much of the show as if they had bedsprings for legs. Clearly, the band was happy to be here. ‘Is it too early to say how awesome it is that we get to open this place?’ Flowers asked six numbers into the band’s 18-song set.”

Paul McCartney, April 19, 2009

Scene: Paul McCartney gigs are akin to flipping through the family scrapbook with a favorite uncle, a familiar-feeling few hours where memory lane becomes a bustling freeway. Here, he closed The Joint’s opening weekend with a 2½-hour set that spanned more than 30 songs.

What we said: “Loose and forever at ease with himself, McCartney was a buoyant presence onstage, playing from the back of his heels, swinging his arms in the air as if he was conducting some invisible orchestra, beaming mischievously, like a kid out past curfew. On ‘Let it Be,’ McCartney’s voice flickered right along with all the candles that illuminated the video screen as couples clenched each other in their arms; ‘Hey Jude’ elicited a crowd singalong so loud that it nearly drowned out the PA; a show-ending ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ saw McCartney strap on a six-string and duel with his two guitarists on an overheated blues jam that sent the crowd to the exits with ringing ears.”

Legendary rocker Paul McCartney performs at the newly refurbished The Joint concert venue insid ...
Legendary rocker Paul McCartney performs at the newly refurbished The Joint concert venue inside the Hard Rock hotel-casino on Sunday, April 19, 2009, in Las Vegas. (Review-Journal file photo)

Queen + Adam Lambert, July 5, 2014

Scene: British rock royalty Queen, a band that embodies ostentation — musically, visually, emotionally — played its first Vegas headlining show with Adam Lambert during a two-night stand at The Joint over July Fourth weekend 2014, when the fireworks weren’t confined to the skies outside.

What we said: “After a somewhat tenuous start on a stiff, show-opening ‘Now I’m Here,’ where Lambert sang of old memories while attempting to create fresh ones, the singer worked himself into a visible sweat during the proto-metal surge of second tune ‘Stone Cold Crazy,’ where (Brian) May’s guitar served as cattle prod, goosing the song forward at ever-more perilous speeds. On tempestuous torch song ‘Somebody to Love,’ Lambert howled with gospel-like fervor, sounding like he was shouting down the devil during a Sunday sermon; on climactic ballad ‘Who Wants to Live Forever?’ he glared upward as he shot his voice to the rafters, where it seemingly dislodged a massive disco ball that descended from above.”

Fiona Apple, Sept. 15, 2012

Scene: Fiona Apple doesn’t just sing her songs, she wears them like an added layer of skin. Nearly her every word ripples across her features, her emotions telegraphed by facial expressions as malleable as Play-Doh and eyebrows arched like the back of an angry cat. She hasn’t played Vegas since this one.

What we said: “At times, her voice was like tendrils of smoke rising from a fire, wispy and skyward bound, but from a heated place. At others, it was a pained, guttural bray, agonized and ugly, as if she was spitting up internal organs. She was at her most visceral and vehement on ‘Sleep to Dream’ and ‘Tymps (The Sick in the Head Song),’ which she sang through clenched teeth at times; her softest and most forgiving on ‘Anything We Want’ and hushed ballad ‘I Know,’ where The Joint grew so quiet, you could hear the pages of a reporter’s notebook turn.”

Fiona Apple performs at The Joint in the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, in Las Vegas, Saturday, Se ...
Fiona Apple performs at The Joint in the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, in Las Vegas, Saturday, September 15, 2012. (Review-Journal file photo)

Imagine Dragons, Feb. 9, 2013

Scene: On their inaugural headlining tour — with Vegas serving as the second stop — Imagine Dragons played their first big local show outside of more regular haunts such as the Hard Rock Cafe, Beauty Bar and The Bunkhouse Saloon. By the end of the year they’d be full-fledged stars, their debut, “Night Visions,” becoming the fourth-best-selling album of 2013.

What we said: “This show felt like a release of years of self-applied pressure, jubilance served up as readily, and efficiently, as the bartenders poured beer. (Singer Dan) Reynolds, a human exclamation point, flayed his arms out in a triumphant pose before the first song even kicked in. He danced in circles across the stage, though never strayed too far from a series of drums — including a massive timpani-sized thing — which he hammered away at throughout the night. A sense of deliberate, steady craftsmanship was palpable in the Imagine Dragons’ repertoire throughout the show. Their songs seemed scientifically engineered to either soothe or elate, depending on the mood. As such, this is not a band that paints outside the lines, preferring instead to try to master the brushstrokes within them.”

Imagine Dragons perform at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2 ...
Imagine Dragons perform at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Prince, April 26, 2013 (Early show)

Scene: “I got a question: Do you like rock ’n’ roll?” Prince asked during the first of four shows in two nights. “I do, too, but I like mine funky.” And funky he got. Backed by hard-hitting band 3rd Eye Girl — a female power trio that he assembled, in part, by seeing each of them perform individually on YouTube — these shows would mark Prince’s final Vegas headlining performances.

What we said: “ ‘I’m in a daze, but that’s the way it’s gotta be,’ Prince sang during ‘I Like It There,’ giving voice to the prevailing sentiment of the evening, which culminated with him inviting members of the audience onstage for an impromptu dance party soundtracked by a medley of hits and boogie-down productions ranging from ‘When Doves Cry’ to ‘Housequake’ to ‘I Would Die 4 U.’ ‘It’s funky up here, y’all,’ Prince beamed from beyond a keyboard, barely visible among a jungle of gyrating limbs.”

Psycho Las Vegas, Aug. 26-28, 2016

Scene: Quickly becoming one of the most eclectic and acclaimed heavy music fests in the country, Psycho Las Vegas debuted at the Hard Rock in 2016 with headliners the Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Alice Cooper, Electric Wizard and many others before relocating to Mandalay Bay in 2019. With a communal, come-as-you-are vibe, the whole weekend had the feel of a heavy-metal family gathering meets “The Big Lebowski,” a laid-back get-together with an ensemble cast of far-out characters, from gray-haired dudes in Captain Beefheart T-shirts to Yeti-shaggy heavy-metal epicureans.

What we said: “Psycho Las Vegas was largely posited on the creation and sustaining of moods. If there was a unifying principle from the broad array of nearly 100 bands that performed, which ranged from Germanic sludge metal duo Mantar to the gauzy psychedelia of Dead Meadow, the Kraut-rock-informed sci-fi instrumentals of Zombi to the horn-powered funk of The Budos Band, it was that most acts favored exploration over expediency, breadth over concision, pushing against the various contours of their catalogs in order to find a groove, dig in deep and go wherever the moment took them.”

Jacob Bannon of Converge performs during the Psycho Las Vegas music festival at the Hard Rock h ...
Jacob Bannon of Converge performs during the Psycho Las Vegas music festival at the Hard Rock hotel-casino in Las Vegas on Friday, Aug. 26, 2016. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @csstevensphoto

Contact Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476. Follow @JasonBracelin on Twitter.

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