From our buddy, John Katsilometes at the Las Vegas Sun:
Nobly, the Las Vegas Philharmonic and Springs Preserve attempted a “Star Spangled Spectacular” last night absent the bombs bursting in air. The results were fine -- musically.
You’re sitting with a winning program when you roll out the live orchestral renditions of such July 4th classics as “Stars and Stripes Forever,” Battle Hymn of the Republic and (as LV Phil Music Director David Itkin remarked beforehand) the finest traditional American work ever written by a Russian, Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture.”
A slick addition to the program was a cappella group Mosaic, remarkable vocally and logistically as they manage to make all sorts of special events (including last weekend’s “Ribbon of Life” Golden Rainbow show at the Las Vegas Hilton) in a dogged display of self-promotion. Mosaic’s rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner,” which shifted to a hip-hop tempo midway, was terrific.
Less so was their unscheduled uncorking of Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA."
But visually, it was not great. The elements simply wouldn’t allow for an inspired, “green” video component to this show. The contracted crew form AV Vegas, headed up visually by lighting designer Eric Chiu, did what it could to bring a full-sensory experience to the 1,200 assembled, sitting in fake chairs on fake grass.
But it was too light, too late (the sun didn’t fully set until the show was about an hour along), and even a wisp of wind pushed the smoke effects, which were to enhance the multicolored strobes that flashed during the “1812” finale -- out of the amphitheater. Also, somewhat comically, two big screens winging the stage showed generic footage of fireworks shows from ... somewhere else, I guess, even as the entire valley flashed and boomed with genuine shows from Stations Casinos.
But it was worth the effort, if only to promote sustainable energy and the conservation of resources. As Pat Mulroy, general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, said, we might see this type of show as the rule for July 4th celebrations over the next generation.
The show did sell out, giving the LV Phil -- priced out of its usual home at Hills Park in Summerlin -- a place to play for the holiday. If not for the Springs Preserve availability, the orchestra would have been silent on July 4 for the first time in more than a decade. And the Springs Preserve was lacking any event for Independence Day, so both sides won in that sense.
And for genuine, blow-’em-up-real good fireworks, the audience got a good look at them on their way out of the parking lot, either in the air from the official shows or from myriad neighborhood parties that spilled into the streets.
As we say, only in America.