Celine Dion is back in her comfort zone — The Studio at the Palms

Updated December 8, 2017 - 9:42 am

Celine Dion is playing the Palms.

To clarify: Celine is recording at the Studio at the Palms.

The Colosseum at Caesars Palace headliner has returned to the studio to record her next, not-yet-titled album. The release would be Dion’s first English-speaking album since 2013’s “Loved Me Back to Life.” She has said she wants the next album to drop in the latter stages of 2018. She began work on the album at the Palms in early November.

“I’m very, very excited. That’s going to be released in 2018, probably during the fall, could be sooner, I hope,” Dion said in an interview with Hello magazine in August as she announced her new line of handbags. “I don’t know, but I can’t wait.”

In April, Dion released a 49-second video announcing plans for an album next year, with her singing, “Let me reveal myself,” with those words shown in uppercase.

This is not Dion’s first dance, or session, in the Studio at the Palms, which celebrates its 12th anniversary this week under the stewardship of studio director Zoe Thrall. This is Dion’s fifth album recorded in the studio, discreetly set aside from the casino floor and host to sessions from such superstars as Beyonce, Maroon 5, Lady Gaga, Eminem, Michael Jackson (about a decade ago), Britney Spears, Imagine Dragons, and Jamie Foxx.

It’s not uncommon for a recording artist — such as Foxx — to call Thrall in the dead of night to set up time in the studio at 2 a.m., or whenever the mood hits. Foxx also cut samples of new songs and delivered the music to Moon nightclub to test-drive his work.

The Studio’s 12th anniversary was technically marked Wednesday. The first artists to ever record there were guitar great Joe Bonamassa in Studio X (the larger recording room to accommodate a full band), and, oddly enough, Paris Hilton in Studio Y. The following week The Killers began work on “Sam’s Town.”

“We hit it out of the park, right from the beginning,” says Thrall, adding that the studio remains a viable option for artists even though technology makes it possible to record music just about anywhere. “You can’t beat an acoustically sound room to record in and the ability to mix in a room that is designed properly.”

This isn’t the only music-related creative activity at the hotel, either. Read on …

Pearl overhaul

The Pearl Concert Theater, which turned 10 years old this year, is due to begin its scheduled renovation after The Killers’ performance Monday night. The project is headed up by hotel owner Red Rock Casinos (formerly Station Casinos), which is in booking partnership with concert promoter Live Nation. The work is expected to be finished in time for shows to resume in March.

Upgrades to the 2,600-seat venue are part of the hotel’s $485 million investment in improvements for the off-Strip property, which the company purchased a little more than a year ago. More on this project before The Killers hit the stage.

The Rio deal

Comedy headliner Eddie Griffin has moved from The Kings Room at The Rio to the former Martorano’s restaurant spot, or a few cartwheels from Chippendales Theater. That room is also planned to host live music in 2018.

In the meantime, The Kings Room reportedly will be converted into an outpost of The Comedy Cellar, the famous Manhattan spot that has featured such prominent stand-ups as Dave Chappelle, Dave Attell (listed together for the rhyming), Amy Schumer, Darrell Hammond, Judah Friedlander and many others. The club has also been used as the setting for “Louie,” Louie C.K.’s autobiographical series that aired from 2010-2015.

The Santa Fe scene

If you were not at the Copa Room at Bootlegger Bistro on Monday night, you missed a happening. Santa Fe & The Fat City Horns returned with a blistering two-hour set (30 minutes longer than planned) in its first ticketed performance since June.

The room was overflowing, with a line forming at the door an hour before the show.

The lauded horn-powered band played a healthy collection of originals, and also its popular covers, including The Beatles’ “Come Together,” Ray Charles’ “You Don’t know Me” (with Tony Davich killing that song) and its Earth Wind & Fire medley. The sound quality and general vibe in the venue has been improved with fabric-covered walls and the removal of the tall pillars near the middle of the showroom.

Expect tweaks to the experience, including a more seamless seating strategy (the large turnout required chairs to be hauled in during the performance) and a night-specific dinner menu.

But all in all, it went swimmingly. Santa Fe is back Monday, and again Dec. 18 and Jan. 1. If this works, and Monday it did work, this could be an ongoing hang.

Legendary holiday

I took in the Christmas performance of “Legends In Concert” at 4 p.m. Tuesday at the Flamingo. The event was a reminder that the weekday matinee show is some tough duty, the crowd frequently sparse, disinterested … sometimes slumbering.

A favorite line “Legends” performers use to describe such audiences: “I’m dead. You’re not.”

But the “Legends” holiday performance was customarily crisp, with new opening and closing number designed by the show’s choreographer, Melden Steele. The latest addition to the cast is George Michael, as portrayed by Michael Knight, who is a good singer and dancer for good reason — he’s also portrayed Michael Jackson in “Legends” productions around the country.

The show’s holiday lineup also features spirited tributes to Elvis (Bill Cherry), Frank Sinatra (Brian Duprey), and Jazmine Katrina (Whitney Houston).

The cast won over Tuesday’s crowd, especially those in my booth, as “Legends” remains the granddaddy of Strip productions at 34 years old.

Speaking of legends …

Celebrity columnist Robin Leach is no longer on a ventilator and is preparing to leave the ICU in the next few days, his son Steve Leach reported Thursday. Leach is expected to move into a Las Vegas rehabilitation facility to recover strength on his right side, which was weakened after he suffered a mild stroke while on vacation in Cabo San Lucas in November.

The Grimm effect

VegasVille is the only city where you can find “America’s Got Talent” champions performing concurrently in two Strip showrooms and one off-Strip resort lounge. Ventriloquial practitioner Terry Fator has his room at The Mirage. Intrepid illusionist Mat Franco is in a venue named for him at The Linq.

And Michael Grimm, “AGT’s” stunning Season 5 titlist, is at Tuscany’s Piazza lounge at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays. No cover for Grimm’s acoustic set, which ends at about 11:30 p.m. I caught him this week, and this guy’s singing and playing is so wonderful, you feel he should be playing bigger rooms. But Grimm, whose 2010 “AGT” championship was tucked between Fator’s 2007 triumph and Franco’s 2015 triumph, has always been an artist first, a career navigator second.

Soon after his “AGT title, he told me felt like a cork in the ocean of show business.

Fittingly, then, that Grimm is embarking on the cruise-ship circuit, booked by Best Agency of Las Vegas on Carnival Cruise lines. That gig, and his following in VegasVille, should keep the TV champ afloat.

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

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