Friday, Oct. 17, 2003 | 9:03 a.m.
Spencer Patterson covers music for the Sun. His music notes column appears Fridays. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (702) 259-2309.
Rock 'n' roll reunions are almost always two things: sappy nostalgia trips and calculated cash cows.
The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac and the Sex Pistols, all with their best days far behind them, have paraded through town on reunion tours in recent months. Simon and Garfunkel stop by next month, 33 years after releasing their last album.
So it was a rare treat Wednesday night to witness a once-dormant band back together with a clear sense of musical purpose.
Not to say the three members of Primus aren't enjoying the monetary benefits of touring again. Or that their longtime fans aren't nostalgic about getting to sing the lyrics to "Sailing the Seas of Cheese" again.
But based on the avant-garde rock trio's show at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel, it's clear Les Claypool, Larry LaLonde and Tim Alexander aren't simply intent on rehashing the good old days.
Playing together for the first time in seven years, the three musicians spent the night locked in step, the key to Primus' rhythmically intense variety of music. They also pushed old songs in new directions, proving that their time apart has sparked fresh ideas.
As always, Claypool served as the focal point, the crowd of 1,662 cheering his rapid-fire slapping bass solos and mimicking his strange vocal stylings on such Primus favorites as "My Name is Mud," "Pork Soda" and "Here Come the Bastards."
LaLonde also camped near the front of the stage, doing what he has always done best: play just enough guitar to complement Claypool's bass work. You get the feeling the man could be Steve Vai if he wanted, but screaming guitar solos aren't what Primus is about.
For me, the true star of the night was Alexander, the drummer whose return signaled the resurrection of Primus' founding lineup. Not only did he drive the music throughout the two sets -- no easy task given the band's odd time signatures -- he also sounded more percussive behind his set than ever.
I'm guessing Alexander learned a few new tricks during his recent habitation in Las Vegas. During that two-year period he served as a backing drummer for the Blue Man Group production show at Luxor, and gigged occasionally with offshoot band Uberschall.
Strong as Primus' music may have been, I found myself captivated almost as much by the Wednesday night audience. Claypool's recent associations with the jam-band scene were evident, as fans in tie-dyed Grateful Dead T-shirts twirled close to bare-chested moshers with Korn tattoos.
All that for $27.50. So explain to me again why we're supposed to pay $75 to $250 to hear "Bridge Over Troubled Water?"
Farewell, again?: Though she claimed her Aug. 31 concert would be her last in Las Vegas, pop superstar Cher has announced two more performances at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, on Jan. 2 and Jan. 3. As if anyone actually believed her ...
Sharing the stage for both shows will be KC & The Sunshine Band and the Village People. Tickets are $75.25, $175.25 and $225.25 and go on sale Saturday at 10 a.m. through the MGM box office, at TicketMaster outlets, by phone at 474-4000 and at www.ticketmaster.com.
Rush on reel: Canadian power trio Rush brings its act to the big screen on Tuesday, with a 7:30 p.m. showing of its new DVD, "Live in Rio" at Regal Village Square 18, 9400 W. Sahara Ave.
The film captures the band performing in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, the final concert on last year's "Vapor Trails" tour. Las Vegas is one of 25 American cities premiering the DVD on Tuesday. Tickets to the one-night only event are $8.50.
Cash out: Road trip to Nashville, Tenn., anyone? The Johnny Cash Memorial Tribute show takes place there on Nov. 10, and all tickets to the event will be free to the public.
To register for the lottery, send your name, address and daytime telephone number on a 3 1/2-inch-by-5-inch index card (or slip of paper) to: Johnny Cash Memorial Tribute, P.O. Box 20003, Nashville, Tenn., 37202. Entries are due in by midnight Oct. 26. Winners will be notified by telephone by Oct. 31.
Rosanne Cash, John Mellencamp, Willie Nelson, Kris Krist- offerson, Hank Williams Jr., Sheryl Crow, Jack Clement, Steve Earle, Larry Gatlin, Dwight Yoakam and George Jones are confirmed performers, with Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Bono also expected to participate.
Marsalis off: Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis has canceled his Oct. 28 show at the House of Blues at Mandalay Bay due to a scheduling conflict. Refunds are available at original points of purchase.
Jewel stops at the Aladdin Theatre for the Performing Arts for an acoustic performance on Nov. 22. Tickets for the 1,800-seat concert are $91.90 and go on sale Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Aladdin box office, at TicketMaster outlets, by phone at 785-5000 or 474-4000 or at www.ticketmaster.com.
Michelle Branch performs at the Aladdin on Nov. 26. Tickets are $31.50, $42 and $52.50 and go on sale Saturday at noon through the Aladdin box office and TicketMaster.
The Trans-Siberian Orchestra plays the Aladdin on Dec. 6. Tickets are $29.50 and $39.50 and are on sale now through the Aladdin box office and TicketMaster.
Rick James and Teena Marie team for a Nov. 7 show at the Aladdin. Tickets are $31.50, $42 and $52.50 and were to go on sale today through the Aladdin box office and TicketMaster.
Mudvayne visits The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel on Nov. 1. Tickets are $25 and go on sale Saturday at noon through the Hard Rock box office and TicketMaster.
Todd Rundgren performs at The Joint on Nov. 21. Tickets are $23 and go on sale Saturday at 2 p.m. through the Hard Rock box office and TicketMaster.
Placebo plays The Joint on Nov. 25. Tickets are $28 and go on sale Saturday at 1 p.m. through the Hard Rock box office and TicketMaster.
Default lands at the House of Blues at Mandalay Bay with opening acts Blue October and Social Burn on Dec. 7. Tickets are $15 and go on sale Saturday at noon at the House of Blues box office, by phone at 632-7600, at www.hob.com and through TicketMaster.
Pretty Girls Make Graves stops at Crossroads at the House of Blues on Dec. 1, with Cobra High and S Process. Tickets are $10 and go on sale Saturday at noon through the House of Blues box office and TicketMaster.