By E. C. Gladstone
Maybe it’s all an elaborate celebration for the Las Vegas Hilton’s 40th Anniversary, but suddenly the music of the 1960s is bursting out at all the Las Vegas hotels. The biggest entertainment buzz right now is for Human Nature (at Imperial Palace), the unlikely Australian boy band who has remade itself as a Motown tribute soulful enough to get Smokey Robinson himself to present them. With sharp suits, solid singing and more moves than U Haul, they dance in the aisles, they dance on the tables, they even get you to dance! Equally adept at covering the Temptations (“The Way You Do The Things You Do”), Supremes (“You Keep Me Hangin’ On”) and even Jackson 5 (“ABC”), the quartet is most showstopping when they sing a capella….
If you’re looking for a more home-grown rendition, Detroit, Michigan’s, own Jin-Jin Reeves leads Hitzville, a less slick but equally sincere Motown revue with two other female and four male singers down the street at the Planet Hollywood-adjacent Harmon Theatre (a.k.a. Krave). A woman who really knows how to sell a song, Jin-Jin and her crew cover many of the same classics with their own stopless style (though it’s better when they don’t try too hard to mimic), mixing in other soul artists like Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, the O’Jays and Drifters…
Though it’s obviously amore elaborate production with a real narrative, Jersey Boys at the Palazzo (transplanted from Broadway) is also at heart, a tribute to one of the‘60s biggest vocal groups, the Four Seasons. Within a fence-bound ever-changing set, the men who portray Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio et al tell the group’s exhilarating and emotional story from all perspectives, while pulling off note-perfect recreations of the band’s unique harmonies and even instrumentations (all of the music is played live onstage) though hits like “Sherry,” “Walk Like A Man,” “Rag Doll” “Oh What A Night” and more. While mature themes and language make this show iffy for the pre-teen set, virtually anyone older will be blown away…
No one might compare it in terms of production level, but the Fab Four Live at Planet Hollywood’s V Theater also features four men recreating a ’60s legacy — some guys named the Beatles. In just over an hour, the Fab Four, aided only by an Ed Sullivan/Austin Powers impersonator and two able-bodied go-go girls, tackle 17 of the Beatles’ best with convincing ability, even ones the originals never played live, like “A Day In The Life,” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” A late-afternoon matinee time makes this one a good family option…
Of course, the great thing about Vegas is that more than a few of the original performers come through town regularly (some even actually live here).
- Just in August, Gladys Knight returns to the Orleans (8/7-9), Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals and Tommy James & the Shondells play the Cannery (8/29), 1910 Fruitgum Company (8/21-22) hit Eastside Cannery while original Supreme Mary Wilson is set to play the Silverton Lodge (there are too many other smaller tributes to even name!).
- All summer long, Fremont Street downtown has been presenting tribute bands and ’60s originals alike, and still set to perform are Jefferson Starship, the 5th Dimension, Canned Heat, Three Dog Night and more.
- Oh, and lest we forget, that fine 40-year-old resort the LV Hilton has its own tribute coming too — veterans Cheap Trick (not quite 40 themselves) will be performing the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper album in entirety there beginning in September.
- And don’t be surprised if you see Smokey Robinson guest appearing here before the end of the year.
This just in: Jersey Boys star Erich Bergen is reportedly assembling a Las Vegas tribute to Michael Jackson, who had many many friends and connections here. Keep your eyes peeled…
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A contributing editor at VEGAS Magazine, E. C. Gladstone also interviews top Strip entertainers, restauranteurs, moguls and behind-the-scenes players for other local and national publications and websites. Like many Las Vegans, he sleeps only when absolutely necessary.