Ever been to a concert and wondered what the performer(s) were thinking when they put together the set list? That happened for me a few months ago when Suzanne Vega, performing at the new Smith Center for the Performing Arts downtown, whiffed on “Left of Center,” her contribution to the Pretty in Pink soundtrack. Despite that being the exact location of her concert (“left of center, off of the Strip,” as the lyrics say), it went unplayed, even with fans calling out for the song throughout the show. Wouldn’t it have been better if I could’ve actually requested that song prior to the concert? Well, on Sugarland’s new In Your Hands tour, fans can do just that—requesting up to 15 songs online from the band’s four studio albums.
It’s not exactly a bad idea for a band (“Requests Line”) whose last new release came nearly two years ago and who also played in Las Vegas exactly a year ago this week. Rather than hear the same songs they played last August, fans can pick deep album cuts like “Small Town Jericho” from 2004’s Twice the Speed of Life or “Wide Open” from 2010’s The Incredible Machine. Personally, I wouldn’t mind if they broke out “Come On, Eileen” (as they did with touring partner Sara Bareilles last year) or Mumford & Sons’ “Sigh No More,” which they performed with frequent collaborators Little Big Town.
But if we’re talking bucket-list wishes, you’d be hard pressed to find a better opportunity to put a big check mark next to Tony Bennett (“Never Out of Style”), who performs at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace. Really the last of the original keepers of the Great American Songbook, Bennett is still vital in his ninth decade. His recent collaborations with Lady Gaga (fantastically campy) and Amy Winehouse (lushly riveting) were must-YouTube sensations. Me, I’ll take The Tony Bennett/Bill Evans Album from 1975, which found him teaming with the legendary jazz pianist on pitch-perfect standards. It’s been playing in the background of more than a few editor’s letters.