Photo courtesy of Bryan Steffy
Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023 | 2 a.m.
Kenny Loggins, the Grammy-winning, Oscar-nominated singer-songwriter, stood Friday at the center of the stage at Pearl Theater at the Palms and marveled at the room, which he was playing for the first time — and likely the last time — in his storied career of more than 50 years.
The musician who first found success in the music business in the 1960 and now, as a septuagenarian, is on the last leg of a farewell tour after decades of singing, songwriting and performing around the world.
“It’s good to be back in Las Vegas, and I’m so glad I get this chance to share this way out,” he said. “(But) all good things must come to an end — I trust it has something to do with getting older and being a grandfather and wanting to spend time with my grandchildren.”
1. “Keep the Fire”
2. “Heart to Heart”
3. “This Is It”
4. “It’s About Time”
5. “What a Fool Believes”
6. “Whenever I Call You ‘Friend’ ”
7. “Return to Pooh Corner”
8. “Danny’s Song”
9. “If You Believe”
10. “Celebrate Me Home”
11. “Conviction of the Heart”
12. “I’m Alright”
13. “Danger Zone”
The introduction could have been interpreted as the start of a swan song in which the main attraction might not be fully vested.
That interpretation would be all wrong.
Loggins instead turned out a performance that had his audience dancing, singing and, no doubt, rekindling fond memories from musical days gone by.
The 15 songs he and his seven-member band performed dated to the early ’70s, included hits from his days partnering with Jim Messina and continued into his song-writing heydays, first with Michael McDonald of Doobie Brothers fame, then into his successful solo career that included movie theme songs that have endured in the decades since their releases.
Early on in the show, Loggins highlighted hit songs he wrote with McDonald in the late 1970s and early 1980s. “Heart to Heart,” brought the audience to its collective feet. While the song questions how much longer a struggling relationship might, a part of its chorus seemed especially appropriate on this night:
Tell me the truth
Don’t turn away
This is our final chance to
Touch each other’s heart
Does anything last last forever
I don’t know
Baby we’re near the end …
And that’s just what Loggins accomplished all night: Touching the hearts of those who came to celebrate his accomplishments one last time.
Loggins, now 75 years old, does not have the moves of Mick Jagger, who at 80 still prances around like a 20-year-old. But the star of this night’s show wasn’t a potted plant on the stage either. He made his way across the entire stage throughout the night, sometimes playing guitar and other times bopping around with only a microphone in hand, often ending his songs by swinging an imaginary baseball bat as if he were knocking the ball out of the park.
He reveled in telling stories about how some of the songs came about. One was how he and McDonald had to quickly follow up their 1978 hit song, “What a Fool Believes,” with what they figured would be a throwaway sophomore jinx song “just to get it out of the way.” That song was “This Is It,” which landed Loggins a Grammy Award in 1981 for “Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. It also is the name of his farewell tour.
Another of Loggins’ stories helped introduce his song, “Return to Pooh Corner,” a 1990s reworking of the song he wrote and became a hit single for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in 1971. As Loggins told it, he was trying to make a name for himself as a songwriter in Los Angeles in the late 1960s, going with a group of other songwriters and entertaining at parties on the Hollywood scene. A couple of bandmates in the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band heard him perform the beginning of “Pooh Corner,” and expressed interest in the song. Loggins was elated. It potentially would be his first song picked up by a major band.
About a month later, though, he got a call that the band had dropped its interest in it. “Disney lawyers,” he was advised, had caught wind of the song and issued a cease-and-desist letter against its use.
“I was kinda bummed that day,” he said. On a date that night, he bemoaned to his girlfriend that his song wasn’t going anywhere because of the “Disney lawyers.”
“Let me talk to Daddy about that,” his girlfriend said.
Turns out, unbeknownst to Loggins, his girlfriend was Marnie Walker. Her father was Card Walker, then CEO of Disney.
“Daddy” had the lawyers tear up the cease-and-desist order, and Loggins had his first hit.
“So this one goes out to Card Walker and his daughter, Marnie,” he said.
But it was Loggins’ songs, not his stories that made the night. And among those songs, three soundtrack hits stood out in the performance: “I’m Alright,” the theme from “Caddyshack” had the house rocking. As Loggins and band played in front of images from the iconic 1980 comedy, it seemed as if he had instantly turned 10 years younger. The vibe continued with his next song, and the first encore offering, “Danger Zone,” of “Top Gun” fame. “Footloose,” the theme to the 1984 movie of the same name, closed out the highly popular portion of the concert.
With a stirring finale, “Forever,” the 90-minute concert came to an end. Loggins and his band took a well-deserved bow, letting the audience know that, indeed, “This Is It.”