Sigh. Vegas is getting old. I’ve just returned from Sin City – my third trip this year, 15 times in the past decade. I’ve stayed in hotels on the Strip, and off. I’ve spent $1,000 on meals at Michelin-starred restaurants, and eaten $1.99 shrimp cocktails on Fremont Street at three in the morning. I’ve seen most of the shows worth going to (Cirque du Soleil‘s O, being the best of the Cirques), and some I’ve regretted paying for, like Defending the Caveman.
Carrot Top surprised me. Didn’t like the guy, couldn’t stand his weirdness, but took a chance and caught him at the Luxor. He completely won me over with his incredible comedic timing and stupidly outrageous humour. Best money I’ve spent in Vegas in years.
Raiding the Rock Vault is a 2+ hour tribute to some of the greatest rock music spanning the 1960s to 1980s. If you love rock music, then you must – I repeat, MUST – see this show. The musical cast is comprised of John Payne of Asia on bass and lead vocals; Howard Leese from Heart and Bad Company on guitar; Tracii Guns of LA Guns and Guns n’ Roses on guitar; Robin McAuley from MSG and Survivor on lead vocals; Paul Shortino of Rough Cutt and Quiet Riot on lead Vocals; Jay Schellen of Hurricane and Asia on drums; Offspring’s Andrew Freeman on lead vocals, and the be-sparkled and eyeliner-ed (read, “hot”) Michael T. Ross of Lita Ford on keyboards. The production’s synopsis is based on scientists discovering and opening a “rock vault” and the musical madness that ensues. It is co-written by Grammy Award-winning producer David Kershenbaum and musician/producer John Payne of Asia.
Entertaining interludes with actors set the scenes, their short skits serving as intros to the music, and then…the magic happens. Strobes, laser lighting, smoke (and probably mirrors somewhere in the mix), and suddenly you have Paul Shortino strutting like Mick Jagger in a Stones’ tribute followed by Robin McAuley doing Queen justice singing We Are the Champions.
Music by The Who, Journey, The Eagles, Bryan Adams, and Boston follows, and it just gets better and better.
The stage explodes with rock legends playing legendary rock. Tracii Guns mesmerizes with insane guitar riffs. Howard Lees from Heart handles that guitar like a man on fire. Whose the more hardcore rocker, John Payne or Andrew Freeman? I don’t know what they’re on, but I’ll have whatever they’re having. I wish my kids were there to see what rock music – real rock music – sounds like.
Michael T. Ross on keyboards and Jay Schellen on drums, despite being towards the back of the stage, serve as the stationary backbone of the group. The only shortcoming of this show is that you can’t see more of these two men.
All it took was for the first few chords of any song, and the crowd was on their feet – some slower than others, as half the crowd was of the rockers’ vintages or older. There’s no doubt about it, these musicians still have what it takes – their vocals are astounding, their musical prowess is flawless; they’re a pleasure to listen to and watch. After all these years of performing they know how to engage an audience.
If you want to get up close and personal with the band, you have two choices: purchase seats close to the stage and Robin McAuley might push your head suggestively into his crotch – a bonus (or it should be) if you’re a lady, or, he might escort you up on stage to dance. But, if you’re not in to that, you can opt for the Meet and Greet and get a back stage pass to schmooze with the musicians. Drink champagne, have your photo taken, get an autographed program, chat about aging rockers in spandex pants with Jay Schellen, or get a hug from Michael T. Ross like I did before he went on stage. What can I say, it’s those little things that make the world go ’round.
Worth the price? Hell yeah, and then some.
Lou Gramm of Foreigner is guest starring from October 18-22. Raiding the Rock Vault is currently Trip Advisor’s #4 of 533 things to do in Vegas. Buy your tickets now, while you can, before other people figure out this show should be rated #1. Then, get off your ass and dance at the LVH – you won’t be able to help yourself.
Raiding the Rock Vault got me excited about Vegas again. Of every show I’ve paid money to see in Vegas, this is one I’ll return for, and hopefully soon.