Early-bird supper deals, cheesy magicians, and Cole Porter favorites performed to clapping coach parties were formerly associated with Las Vegas acts. However, with another of the world’s top pop performers, Adele, committing to play Las Vegas, the Vegas concert residency has become a glamorous and profitable rite of musical passage.
After just three days on the market, her fourth album, 30, became the best-selling record of the year in the United States. That type of success justifies a stadium tour — she drew almost 3 million fans on her last global tour, which spanned 120 dates and saw her perform in front of about 3 million people.
However, during her Vegas residency, she will perform every Friday and Saturday at the Colosseum at the Caesars Palace casino from 21 January to 16 April, in front of an estimated 4,000 people every night. Because tickets are in such high demand, they are likely to be purchased entirely by registered fans; Ticketmaster has said that there may be no tickets available for public sale.
The early 1970s Vegas concerts were invigorating and memorable, but by the middle of the decade, he was overweight, drug-addicted, and solitary, as epitomized by Elvis Presley.
“For years, it was the place where careers went to die – you’re on the verge of dying when you go to Vegas,” explains James Hanley, news editor of live music newspaper IQ. “However, in the twenty-first century, that has changed dramatically.”
When Céline Dion debuted in 2003, she was a game-changer. Then there came the development of the celebrity DJ — Calvin Harris and the Chainsmokers, for example, with huge residency deals. Then, in 2013, Britney Spears ushered in a new generation of pop stars, including Bruno Mars and Lady Gaga.”
Throughout, the city has maintained its cachet, effectively cultivating its reputation as a debauched but sophisticated pleasure destination. “It’s the United States’ entertainment capital, and it’s super-easy to fly into, so it’s a great destination [for live music],” says Greg Parmley, CEO of music trade group Live.
“There’s a rich history there, dating back to the Rat Pack days,” Hanley says, adding that a residency is “a bucket-list item for a lot of artists.”
It all adds up to Adele’s clear option. She has claimed, even on stage, that she is not well suited to traveling large venues. Las Vegas is quite near to her home base of Los Angeles, where she co-parents her son Angelo with her ex-husband Simon Konecki.
Her music is personal and conversational, especially on 30, and her famous on-stage repartee resembles the standup comedians who are also major draws in Vegas: this material works best when you can see the whites of your audience’s eyes.
“Adele admits she doesn’t like touring; instead, she prefers to stay in one place for weeks at a time,” Hanley explains. “It’s not that she didn’t feel at home in Wembley Stadium, but the more natural home of music is the kind of environment you find in Vegas.”
The money is, of course, another attraction. Céline Dion’s two residencies between 2003 and 2007 and 2011 to 2019 garnered $681 million (£514 million) in ticket sales, and she will earn $272 million from performances Las Vegas through 2026 under the conditions of her current engagement, which started in 2017.
However, larger-capacity touring venues may still produce more cash, and Parmley believes that the allure of Vegas ultimately boils down to the artist’s lifestyle. “If they are at a point in their lives where they don’t want to be on the road because of family or career, Vegas provides an opportunity to have a stable base while still performing every few nights.” It isn’t for everyone, but it will undoubtedly appeal to certain artists.”
“It’s much easier to maintain the quality of the show when you’re not touring and loading the production into a different building every night,” he says. [A Vegas residency] enables the production to be the best it can be.”
Other famous names are planning trips to Vegas right now. Jennifer Lopez is expected to return after her All I Have residency in 2016, saying earlier this year: “I’ve been offered that option… ” Katy Perry’s residency Play begins on December 29, and Jennifer Lopez is expected to return after her All I Have residency in 2016, saying earlier this year: “I’ve been offered that option… “I’m so excited to get back to doing that.” Artists choose to remain in Vegas because of the mix of security, pay, and closeness, to borrow the city’s mythical slogan.
Thanks to Ben Beaumont-Thomas at The Guardian whose reporting provided the original basis for this story.