I don’t frequently visit The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, which turns 10 this week. The 4,000-capacity venue is largely programmed with my parents in mind. But I’m glad I caught these memorable performances there.
1. LEONARD COHEN: The septuagenarian crooner and poet made his Las Vegas debut in a positively epic fashion: with a flawless, three-hour-plus, sold-out concert. In a rare consensus, every local music critic put the show at the top of their year-end concert lists. (Dec. 10, 2010)
2. ARETHA FRANKLIN: I’ve been going to shows two decades longer than The Colosseum has been operating, and as such, my concert bucket list is shrinking. One inclusion I got to cross off last year: The Queen of Soul, who belted out several of her classics and a few covers … after threatening to leave if the venue didn’t kill the air-conditioning. Her diva status remains intact. (July 12, 2012)
3. CHRIS ROCK: Another bucket-list slash. The comedian headlined the venue during the now-defunct Comedy Festival, and while his performance was no Bring the Pain equivalent, he still killed the most that weekend. (Aug. 30, 2008)
4. PAUL SIMON: I’ll never forget comforting my newly single concert guest that night during “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.” Or Simon’s seemingly impromptu version of “Cecilia,” the loudest crowd sing-a long I’ve ever heard in the Colosseum. (Oct. 24, 2011)
5. KATHY GRIFFIN: Haters deride her lack of structure or conventional jokes, but girlfriend riffed for two hours (!) on the ridiculousness of celebrity culture, skewering both LiLo and TMZ. (July 10, 2010)
Honorable Mention: Elton John — The Million Dollar Piano: If we had to pick a Colosseum resident who didn’t disappoint, we’d have to go with Sir Elton and his current show, an improvement on the earlier, visually distracting Red Piano run.