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Smokey Robinson entertains after Pala Casino venue change

Joe Naiman

Village News Reporter

The Aug. 19 Smokey Robinson concert at Pala Casino was originally scheduled for the outdoor Palomar Starlight Theater, but the storm that weekend caused a last-minute change to the indoor Events Center. The change in venue required more than just setting up on a different stage.

The Palomar Starlight Theater has a capacity of 1,800 people while the Events Center is traditionally set for 1,500 spectators. Although nobody lost any seating because of the change in venues, the bar which is normally set up on the north side of the Events Center for concerts was on the south side. (Pala also provides free bottled water during concerts; that container was on the north side as it usually is for indoor concerts.)

The logistical challenges Pala Casino had to undertake also included the line for entry into the venue and its configuration, and the configuration for the security check was also modified on one day's notice.

Although the rain didn't reach Pala Casino, which is 404 feet above sea level, until a couple of hours after the Aug. 19 concert ended, the change to an indoor venue assured that the attendees and band members would remain dry during the concert.

The line for a Palomar Starlight Theater concert extends into the hotel lobby while the line for an Events Center performance extends into the casino, so those standing in line and those seeking a different slot machine had to yield for each other.

"We're going to have a good time anyway," Robinson said.

Pala and Robinson's band chose to delay the start of the concert rather than to begin before everybody could be seated. The 8 p.m. starting time became an 8:34 start, although the 10:14 end time allowed for a 1 hour 40 minute performance. The concert included 17 songs and concluded with an extended version of "Cruisin.'"

The concert opened with "Being with You." The chorus of that song ends with "I don't think about anything else but being with you, being with you." The chorus of "Crusin'" ends with "I love it when we're cruisin' together." If those words from his opening and closing songs didn't indicate that Robinson wanted to be with the Pala Casino audience, his actions certainly did. He interacted with the spectators both verbally and in person, and he added some humor to his personal stories.

In one of his comments, Robinson talked about growing up with jazz, gospel, blues and country music. "There was always music," he said.

He noted that the records were 78 rpm discs and then explained that type of record. "Some of you look like you don't know what a 45 is or 8-track," he said.

Robinson also talked about expanding his own musical variety. He played a couple of songs from his most recent album, which was recorded this year, and noted that he was also working on a second album which will be in Spanish.

"For the past eight years or so I have been learning to speak Spanish," Robinson said. "You can say almost anything in Spanish and it sounds romantic."

A little humor and a lot of music saved the night and made the concert enjoyable despite the obstacles the last-minute venue change caused. The audience might not fully have been aware of the logistical challenges Pala Casino had to overcome, but they will retain memories of the concert which entertained after all of the location change issues were resolved.


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