‘THE BEATLES LOVE’ By Cirque Du Soleil At The Mirage In Las Vegas, July 13th, 2017
The Beatles are part of our musical fabric, they are part of our collective mythology, our common history and they are definitively part of our lives. Their music will never go away at least this is my feeling, it won’t go away during my lifetime and this is all that matters. ‘Love’, the Cirque du Soleil’s homage to the Fab Fours has been running at the Mirage in Las Vegas, since 2006! This represents a lot of shows, although ‘The Beatles Love’ has never toured anywhere in the country, contrarily to some of the other Cirque du Soleil’s productions.
I got to see it on Thursday and, even though I had already seen ‘O’ years and years ago – so I knew about the prowess and magical acrobatics of the Cirque – I was nevertheless surprised by the show’s poetry and imagination. A Las Vegas show goes against my usual love for DYI, this is obviously the complete opposite of the indie shows I am used to, and I was wondering about the commercial aspect of the show. Founder Guy Laliberté basically owns the strip with a different Cirque du Soleil show in every major casino, so why the Beatles? Why did he also need to own the most popular band in the world? And why did the Beatles, or rather the two surviving Beatles and the respective widows of the other ones, need to be part of this huge circus machinery?
Past my potential disillusionment for trapeze numbers, past my idea that perfection can be just plain boring, ‘Love’ is spectacular (to say the least), it is a touching and dancing love letter to the Beatles and their music, with fantastic visuals and often an overwhelming number of things to look at, at the same time… while the soundtrack is the Beatles’ songs, the Beatles’ biggest hits blending into each other with grace and elegance. ‘Because’, ‘Twist and Shout’, ‘Get back’, ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’, ‘Help’, ‘Eleanor Rigby’, ‘Blackbird’, ‘Yesterday’, ‘Here Comes the Sun’, ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’, ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’, ‘Octopus’s Garden’, ‘Lady Madonna, ‘Come Together’, Back in the USSR’, While my guitar Gently Weeps’, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club’, ‘All you Need is Love’… to only name some of the songs used during the show. When the songs are played through the fantastic state-of-the-art sound system of the theater, you realize you obviously know every note of every song, although they have been mashed up and remixed by producer George Martin and his son Giles. There are a lot of chances you have already the visuals to go with the songs, stuck in your head for decades, but the Cirque du Soleil provide new ones which are often so stunning that they may stay with you forever.
I am talking about a glittering female trapeze flying in a diamond starry night during ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’, the acrobatic and contemplative dance around an ascending sun during ‘Here Comes the Sun’, the loving male-female aerial dance about love and longing during ‘Yesterday’, the submarine ballet of octopus and jellyfish-like creatures during ‘Octopus’s Garden’, the extreme loops and jumps of skateboarders during ‘Help’, and one of my favorites among all their psychedelic visuals, a giant sheet enveloping the audience looking like a sea carrying a boat of children during ‘Within You, Without You/Tomorrow Never Knows’.
There is an endless well of wonders and discoveries, the songs overlap and the décor magically transforms into something completely different, people jump on trampolines and disappear through the ceiling, or vanish through a floor opening like a hungry mouth. The Cirque du Soleil artists are exceptional human beings, they look barely human to be honest, they fly and jump with perfect timing and of course nothing is left to chance, because trapeze numbers require an incredible precision and because you are attending a Las Vegas show, after all. Can you forget about this? Probably not even for a second, if nothing in the show was there to disappoint the Beatles fan in me, if the creativity of the dances, acrobatics, costumes, and characters was surely incredible and if each scene was basically a wow-trigger moment with more things to look at that it is possible to tell, I never forgot I was watching the biggest show on earth, a performance so well grounded it is done several times a day, 5 days a week with the exact same precision and perfection.
I am not sure there was a real story along the succession of songs, at least it didn’t appear too obvious, and the show seemed to take some freedom with time and the Beatles themselves, although there were evocations of their career and the growing Beatlemania, and even very personal elements during ‘A Day in the Life’, poetically reacting a very evocative death (a woman is hit by a car while her little boy jumps in and out of his bed), strangely paralleling the death of John Lennon’s mother. And then, there was the freedom taken with songs interpretations, ‘Lady Madonna’ was played as a pregnant woman who splashes with her dancers on multicolored puddles of light, while early songs just appeared like colorful 60s riots, with people dancing on the roof of a painted Volkswagen Beetle.
Whether it was an acrobatic aerial dance or some flashy, over the top, dynamic grand ensemble led by Beatles-inspired characters, each number gives a specific visual to the song, and you may like it or dislike it. it’s a bit like having your favorite book interpreted as a movie, if you are too attached to the book, the movie may be a miss, and you may be in shock. ‘What would John think? i thought a few times… However, there’s a lot of chance you may be moved by the show nevertheless. Sure there’s no real depth into this, barely any politics or social commentary (although I wonder about the two black lovers during ‘Blackbird’), it’s a shiny Las Vegas show, and it is often just an eye candy, but a huge and loving one, and you feel like a kid in a candy store collecting images along this magical tour. It’s nothing more but that’s alright.