weather icon Clear

Aerosmith the latest band to rock ‘Viva Las Vegas’

Updated February 10, 2020 - 12:14 pm

Joe Perry of Aerosmith forecast the song, saying it was first sung by someone who had played Las Vegas a long time ago.

Then he pulled on a pair of big golden sunglasses and said, “This might give it away.” Yep.

The crowd at Park Theater on Saturday night cheered, and it was Perry — not Steven Tyler — who tackled, “Viva Las Vegas.” The band veers from a set list filled with its own classics, and it is a noble effort, one of the many nods to Vegas in the Deuces Are Wild residency.

It was just the latest in a long line of versions of “Viva Las Vegas,” the 1965 Elvis Presley song from the film of the same name. I’ve written of the song over the years, spotlighting the kaleidoscope of “Viva” artists. Vegas’ own rock superstars The Killers performed their version of the song in February 2018 at MGM Grand Garden. ZZ Top performs “Viva Las Vegas” too, and they are to headline The Venetian Theater in April. I’ve even heard it performed inside Cleopatra’s Barge at Caesars Palace, during a medley in from “The Cocktail Cabaret.”

We’d assembled a list, years ago, of favorite “Viva Las Vegas” renditions. The new, improved lineup is 13, because we feel so confident about our bet on the Eagles (the football team, not the rock band) that we’ll tempt bad luck:

14. Engelbert Humperdinck Sort of a free-flowing take on the tune; many are not aware E.H. has even sung it, but he has, and he takes it seriously.

13. “The Cocktail Cabaret” Eric Jordan Young, Niki Scalera, Maren Wade and Daniel Emmet slid a few lines into their nearly unbroken rollout of contemporary tunes at Caesars Palace in January 2018. A cover of the entire song would have sent this crew up the list.

12. Dead Kennedys Their punked-out version was suitably delivered in the film, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” It was recorded long before, though, in 1978.

11. The UNLV pep band The song’s effect is conditional on the Runnin’ Rebels’ on-court performance at the Thomas & Mack Center. It soars after a victory against San Diego State; it can’t end fast enough after a loss to Air Force.

10. Sin City Sinners The longtime Vegas club rockers toy with the song on their CD, “Exile on Fremont Street.” Worth a spin, that one.

9. Bette Midler Backed by The Caesars Salad Girls dance troupe, Midler played the song during her run at The Colosseum in 2008-2010.

8. Billy Joel He pulled out “Viva” in a two-song medley, pairing it with “Suspicious Minds,” at T-Mobile Arena in May 2016. He even pulled on a pair of oversized Elvis shades, as if auditioning for “Legends in Concert.” Joel also teamed with Elton John on the song when the two toured together in the ’90s, but Elton did not play the song in his run at The Colosseum.

7. U2 They played an abbreviated version at Sam Boyd Stadium in October 2009. Among the VIPs in attendance, then-Sen. Harry Reid, former President Bill Clinton and will.i.am.

6. Aerosmith The band gave it a full go Saturday, though afterward Perry said, “You win some, you lose some.” But it was one of those only-in-Vegas moments, and should be used if the LVCVA updates its “What Happens Here” marketing campaign.

5. Wayne Newton Recorded in the mid-1990s, it happens to be the song I once uses to open my KUNV radio show each week. He ends with a hearty, “Yeah!” And so do I.

4. Bruce Springsteen In the days of the Las Vegas Wranglers, Orleans Arena rocked with Bruce’s turn on the tune. The minor-league hockey team played it after every home victory.

3. ZZ Top Effective use of slot-machine sound effects; great video, too. You really want to hang with these guys in Vegas, and soon we’ll get the chance when Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard return for five shows at The Venetian Theatre for five performances starting March 21. Their show’s subtitle, even, is ‘Viva Las Vegas.”

2. Elvis The song essentially serves as Vegas’s tourism anthem. Maybe it’s bad karma to go against Presley as No. 1, but the song is a bit dated. That’s its charm, of course, and would be be the top of the pops if it weren’t for …

1. The Killers The band plays the song only during live shows (and not even guaranteed at MGM Grand) on not yet on CD, but dang, it smokes, Brandon Flowers nods and calls out the lyrics, as if to say, “You know what I”m talking about.” The song closed the Vegas Strong Benefit Concert in December 2017. Whenever you have Flowers harmonizing with the likes of Penn Jillette, Carrot Top and Mr. Las Vegas, you have a Vegas moment that can’t be beat.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Entertainment Videos
Slanted Door in The Forum Shops at Caesars - VIDEO
The Slanted Door, Charles Phan's James Beard Award-winning modern Vietnamese restaurant, will open a Las Vegas location on March 2. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas REview-Journal)
Buddy V opens PizzaCake at Harrah’s - VIDEO
Buddy Valastro, aka Cake Boss Buddy V, is in town this week overseeing the soft opening of his new restaurant, PizzaCake, in Harrah’s Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making mist-shrouded tuna poke at Marssa at the Westin Lake Las Vegas - VIDEO
E.J. Estrella, banquet chef at Marssa at the Westin Lake Las Vegas, makes tuna poke by mixing chunks of bigeye tuna with sliced green onions, julienned white onions and house-made poke sauce and serving it on a bed of seaweed salad garnished with lotus chips and suspended over melon-scented mist. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making baked goat cheese at Ri Ra in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Shea Wafford, sous chef and pastry chef at Ri Ra at The Shoppes at Mandalay Place in Las Vegas, makes baked goat cheese served with honey-nut pesto, pickled red onions, peppadew relish and sourdough baguette. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bruce Kalman cooking at Ada’s - VIDEO
Celebrity chef Bruce Kalman will be cooking at Ada's in Tivoli Village in Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making banana cream pie at Cut in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Nicole Earl, pastry chef at Cut at the Palazzo in Las Vegas, makes an updated banana cream pie by layering banana ice cream, custard and compote with house-made Cool Whip, vanilla wafers and 24-karat gold leaf in a milk chocolate sphere and drizzling it with warm banana-caramel sauce so it devolves into petals. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making Chile Colorado at Kitchen Table and Kitchen Table Squared in Las Vegas
Javier Chavez, chef/owner of Kitchen Table and Kitchen Table Squared in Las Vegas, makes Chile Colorado by braising pork belly with three kinds of peppers and serving it atop stewed black beans with crema and pickled jalapeño, carrots and onions, with flour tortillas. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Black Tap introduces its vegan CrazyShake - VIDEO
Black Tap at The Venetian on the Las Vegas Strip has a new CrazyShake that's vegan -- The Black ’N White CakeShake. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Guy Fieri reflects on the Las Vegas dining scene
Celebrity chef Guy Fieri talks about the Las Vegas food scene while in town celebrating his 52nd birthday. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Familiar faces among Circa culinary lineup
Derek Stevens and chefs Barry Dakake and Dan Coughlin talk about some of the new restaurants for Stevens' Circa resort project. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making the Ausser Rand und Band (Over the Top) bloody mary at the Hofbrauhaus Las Vegas
The Hofbrauhaus Las Vegas serves the Ausser Rand und Band bloody mary with Hofbrau Dunkel, vodka, bloody mary mix, a Tajin rim and a soft pretzel, slider, bacon, sausage and more. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Custom Pizza Truck is a 'kitchen on wheels' - VIDEO
Custom Pizza Truck serves pizzas in a one of a kind food truck that traveled to Poland and back. (Elizabeth Page Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @elipagephoto
Squidhat Records comes to an end - VIDEO
Founder Allan Carter explains decision to shutter the Las Vegas label. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Kaiseki Yuzu relocates to Chinatown - VIDEO
Kaiseki Yuzu restaurant celebrated its move from Henderson to Chinatown at 3900 Spring Mountain Road on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Panic! at the Disco frontman opens studio for kids - VIDEO
Panic! at the Disco frontman Brendon Urie launches Notes for Notes at a Henderson Boys & Girls Club. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A sneak peek at the new Mas Por Favor in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Mas Por Favor in Las Vegas’ Chinatown is an Instagram dream come true with original art, an arch of skulls and one of roses. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegan menu unveiled on Las Vegas Strip - VIDEO
Truth & Tonic, one of the two dining spots within The Venetian’s Canyon Ranch Spa + Fitness, rolled out its new plant-based menu on Friday. Executive chef Pete Ghione talks about the menu. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making lobster and avocado flatbread at Vanderpump Cocktail Garden in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Josh Grimes, chef de cuisine at Vanderpump Cocktail Garden at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, created a lobster and avocado flatbread that also has avocado-creme fraiche spread, yellow tomatoes, red onion and Hearts On Fire microgreens. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Riding the new 15-minute "Star Wars" ride at Disneyland
What it's like to ride the new 15-minute "Star Wars" ride At Disneyland (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Main St. Provisions is coming to the Arts District - VIDEO
Kim Owens talks about her new Arts District restaurant, Main Street Provisions, which is under construction. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Artist Wayne Littlejohn on “Spin Baby” - VIDEO
Wayne Littlejohn’s sculpture celebrates Las Vegas entertainers. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tiësto headlines CES 2020 closing party at Hakkasan Nightclub - VIDEO
Tiesto performs for CES conventioneers and clubgoers during the DreamlandXR Closing Night Party at Hakkasan Nightclub at the MGM Grand on the Las Vegas Strip in the early hours of Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Locals cheer on James Holzhauer at 'Jeopardy!' watch party - VIDEO
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. But James Holzhauer would have a better chance at winning “Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time” tournament if Ken Jennings would stop copying his aggressive betting strategy. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Drake's first show of 2020 at XS Nightclub in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Drake performs at the indoor/outdoor XS and Encore Beach Club at Wynn Las Vegas on the Las Vegas Strip in the early morning hours of Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Ceremony held for Elvis artist Trent Carlini - VIDEO
A ceremony was held for Elvis impersonator Trent Carlini on Wednesday night at The Space in Las Vegas. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2020: Small appliances unveiled in Las Vegas - VIDEO
The small appliances on show at Sands Expo at CES 2020 in Las Vegas include a Keurig cocktail maker, autonomous cooking system, nitrogen coffee ampules and more. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2020: Impossible Foods debuts Impossible Pork in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Before a packed press conference at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Impossible Foods executives introduced Impossible Pork, its newest product. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Lady Gaga joins her band leader at his after-hours show - VIDEO
After finishing her “Jazz + Piano” show at Park Theater, Lady Gaga joined her band leader Brian Newman for a rousing version of "Fly Me to the Moon" during his show at NoMad Restaurant at Park MGM on the Las Vegas Strip after midnight on New Year's Day, 2020. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Brian Newman rings in 2020 at NoMad at Park MGM - VIDEO
Brian Newman, bandleader for Lady Gaga, performs at NoMad Restaurant at Park MGM on the Las Vegas Strip on New Year's Eve 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
New Year’s Fireworks on the Las Vegas Strip - VIDEO
Fireworks explode over the Las Vegas Strip to celebrate the new year of 2020. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)