August 28, 2016 - 11:35 am
Moments caught from the streets of VegasVille, where AC/DC is given a a doo-wop treatment and a scene from “Nunsense” breaks out at “Menopause the Musical.”
—Soaring in voice and expertly choreographed, the gents from Human Nature are back at Sands Showroom at the Venetian after a visit to their native Australia. On July 22, the guys played a sold-out show at the 3,000-capacity Star Event Center in Sydney.
Also during their time away, the group released “Gimme Some Lovin’: Jukebox Volume II,” a follow-up to the 2014 release “Jukebox,” which served as the frame of the updated stage show on the Strip. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Australian Aria music charts, that country’s equivalent to the Billboard charts, giving the guys a healthy boost for their return to “Jukebox” in Vegas.
Built into every performance of the show is the moment when Andrew Tierney, Michael Tierney, Phil Burton and Toby Allen call to the audience to request any number from an Australian band. Without fail, I shout, “AC/DC!” usually the song, “T.N.T.” The band has recorded that song, a cappella, for the 2003 Australian release, “Andrew Denton’s Musical Challenge 2,” an assortment of bands and singers performing number outside their customary genre.
It happened again Wednesday night. The guys asked, “How about a song from your favorite band in Australia?” and cupped their ears for response. I called out accordingly, “AC/DC!” Andrew turned to the guys and said, “What about ‘You Shook Me All Night Long?’ ”
This was uncharted territory – I’ve not known Human Nature to sing this song, ever. But after some goading from the audience and a protracted vocal tuneup, the guys did sing a healthy segment of the rock classic. The crowd (especially The Johnny) loved it, and later Andrew sent a note out saying, “It was a seat-of-the-pants version, as we worked it out backstage just before sound check today.”
The only sensible next step: Add it to the set list.
—As I walked into the main entrance of Harrah’s on Thursday, I happened upon a group of a half-dozen nuns at the elevator banks leading to the hotel’s guest rooms. I waved, they waved, and I took a quick video of the group on Instagram. All good.
A bit later at the, I met up with Cindy Williams and the cast of “Menopause the Musical” and producer Alan Glist of GFour Productions.
In line, holding tickets to the show and waiting to be seated: The nuns.
“Sometimes,” Glist said, “we get nuns.”
This would be interesting. “Menopause” is peppered with ribald jokes and lyrics, including the climactic number “Only You.” The number is delivered with great zeal by cast member Lori Legacy, as the daffy Iowa housewife. Instead of singing into a microphone, she uses an adult “recreational” aid shaped like a microphone.
The audience howls at that scene, Thusday’s being no exception. But how did it play at the nuns’ table?
They busted up, too.
“They laughed!” Glist said afterward. “That scene had me worried.”
As a post-script, during the show-ending dance scene onstage, cast member Lisa Mack attempted to lure the nuns to the stage with the rest of the women from the audience. The nuns politely declined.
—During a charity dinner Friday night at Michael Morton’s Crush at MGM Grand, Jonathan Cain recalled the mercurial path of the ballad “Faithfully.” The song was a hit for Journey in 1982, but it was meant for someone else.
Cain recalled the song’s history as he took his post behind a keyboard at the intimate performance in the restaurant’s VIP room. He had thought of the song one night in while driving through San Francisco. By the next morning, he’d effectively finished off the tune, and presented it to the singer of his band at the time – Jon Waite of The Babys.
Wait shook his head at the song, which the Babys never recorded. Cain held the song for a couple of years until joining Journey, and “Faithfully” was slotted for the “Frontiers” album, hitting No. 12 on the Billboard charts. The song remains is one of Cain’s more inspired contributions in his 35-year history with the band.
“Jon Waite didn’t see ‘Faithfully,’ ” Cain said, “but Steve Perry saw it.” Cain himself performed the song during Journey’s concert Saturday at Mandalay Bay, which also featured a rousing set by the Doobie Brothers.
Cain’s appearance a night earlier at MGM Grand was to support ARTTEC, a training program designed to link high school students with entertainment industry professionals in film, TV and music. Featured at the event was a dinner prepared by Crush Chef Billy Demarco and a sampling of Cain’s Finale Wine line, which was apparently quite satisfying, judging by the blossoming ebullience of those on hand.
—It takes “MJ Live” star Jalles Franca as long to prep for his show after it is finished than prior, if that makes sense. The Brazilian-raised Franca inhabits the Michael Jackson character at the tribute show at the Stratosphere, worth noting as Jackson’s 58th birthday would have been Monday.
Franca hits the stage as Jackson in full costume and makeup, which is customary.
And afterward, as he leaves the theater, Franca once more in full costume and makeup.
“I have to make another entrance,” he said as he actually walked out of the showroom doors and to dozens of fans awaiting photos. The process to prepare Franca for his show after the show is at least 30 minutes. Tuesday he wore black shades, red lipstick, a zippered, black-and-gold jacket with epaulets and dangling ropes and matching pants trimmed in gold stitching.
It was a whole thing.
Tuesday first time I’d caught the “MJ Live” since it moved from Rio to the Strat in March 2015. The show is great fun in an expected sort of way – Jackson’s hits are all rolled out in a pretty effective production (the dancers, costumes and stage sets remind of Jackson’s great videos). The band is live and lively.
More impressively, the show does solid business – about 400 in the house on a weeknight, and the show typically brushes to its full 600-seat capacity. Some very elaborate and well-resourced shows on the Strip would kill for those numbers.
John Katsilometes’ column runs Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday in the A section, and Fridays in Neon. He also hosts “Kats! On The Radio” Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on KUNV 91.5-FM and appears Wednesdays at 11 a.m. with Dayna Roselli on KTNV Channel 13. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter and @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.