weather icon Partly Cloudy
RJ App
Vegas News, Alerts, ePaper

Hagar plays the rock, pours the shots in Strat party show

Updated November 2, 2021 - 5:26 pm

You have to wonder what sort of strategy session Sammy Hagar held in the run-up to “Sammy Hagar & Friends” at The Strat.

“The plan is rock, shots and beach balls. Then we improvise. Questions? Adjourned.”

You understand Hagar’s, um, sensibility early and often as the Red Rocker and his band, The Circle, tear it up at The Strat Showroom. The party and rock revival opened this weekend and plays 9 p.m. this Fridays and Saturdays over the next three weekends. The show has announced it is releasing additional “Party Pit” tickets for shows this Friday and Saturday, and also Nov. 12-13. Added dates for 2022 are upcoming, too.

The Red Heads, as the front man’s fans are known, get what they paid for. Hagar’s performance is really something to behold, even if you are one who can, in fact, drive 55. He is 74 years old and simply wears out the stage. He’s still in great voice, joyous in his freestyle choreography and a menace on guitar.

Hagar screams out lyrics even when he doesn’t need to, such as in the revival of “Runaround,” from Van Halen’s “Van Hagar” era. He would be forgiven for dialing it back, but that would not fit the party theme.

Some hits are anticipated. Most are, actually. No Hagar show would be filled without “Mas Tequila,” and (also from Van Halen)”Finish what Ya Started” and “Right Now.” Hagar banters frivolously with band mates Michael Anthony, Vic Johnson and Jason Bonham, the son of Led Zeppelin’s legendary drummer, John Bonham.

Hagar even wore a glittery red jacket. “This is Vegas! Ya gotta!” Anthony goaded. The star bassist also called out, “That suit is youoooo,” a reference Van Halen fans know, from “Unchained.”

The surprises over the weekend were a drop in Friday from Ratt’s Steven Pearcy for a run of “Rock and Roll,” and Saturday’s thunderous cover of “When The Levee Breaks.”

Hagar mentioned that he’s actually a year older than John Bonham would have been, if he were still with us. “It’s an honor to play your father’s music,” he called back to the younger Bonham, who nodded approval.

That song careened into “Whole Lotta Rosie,” by AC/DC. Exhausting. Watching Hagar rock it out, you’re tempted to say, “I’ll have what he’s having,” and he can fill that need, too. The businessman has offered his Sammy’s Beach Bar Cocktail Co. sparkling rum cocktails, Santo Tequila and Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum (we are hoping he evolves to a mocktail/FizzyWater option).

Hagar should sell stacks of cases. He’s created a big show for a small room. I use the analogy of tossing a cherry bomb into a mailbox. It’s a financial challenge to pay all those top-flight musicians, of course. But Hagar’s model sold nearly 1,000 tickets in a room that has never hosted a residency of this scale.

In terms of response, the win is in. Artistically, Hagar and friends kick it up and leave busted furniture behind. Late in the performance, during “Rosie,” Bonham snapped a drumstick after slamming the snare. He held it up, laughing. The member of rock royalty was as surprised as anyone that he was breaking his equipment, and that’s what Hagar’s show is all about.

Rock and roll over

We have a sense, and it is merely a sense, that the Kiss residency concept is not entirely expired. Never say never with this band. But a swirl of challenges surfaced in the weeks leading to its series at Zappos Theater. The show was in a tough sales pocket, to open just after Christmas and before New Year’s Eve. The band was reeling after the COVID-related death Oct. 17 of longtime guitar tech Francis Stueber. Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons had both caught COVID, too, briefly halting the tour.

And, Kiss is headlining its 10th Kiss Kruise, drawing thousands to that ocean event that wraps Tuesday. The band remains enormously popular on such tours (Simmons showed me several photos of one of these events, slammed with fans). But the band’s availability away from the Zappos residency didn’t help sell tickets in Las Vegas. It might be a good idea to pause performances, generate demand, and come back to the Kiss idea next year. Because it is a good one.

Lio leans in

The supper show experience “Lio Ibiza” has been extended through Wednesday at Mayfair Supper Club. This is the Pacha Group’s blend of Ibiza and Strip entertainment qualities. Mostly, these are sizzling dance numbers, performed alongside your prime rib.

“Lio” is a reminder of the importance of time and timing. The show would have delivered greater impact if it arrived before Mayfair’s own dedicated supper-club production in December 2019. That show, a personal favorite, is on break as “Lio” has taken over. But now, most fans of this genre have likely taken in the Mayfair show, and also Delilah at Wynn Las Vegas. We have been conditioned on the standards for staging entertainment with a fine-dining experience, and they are high.

That said, I liked the performances, on balance. The performers are stunning, and the numbers expertly constructed and executed. Some very inventive numbers, such as hot chocolate-desert scene, was daring and (I expect) delicious. A slow-motion brawl that evolves into a similarly slow-motion orgy was also clever, unique … and the sort of thing that can get you arrested.

The choreography is genius and the dancing tight (just check the tight group efforts on my social media feed). The singing is fine, at the standard we’ve become accustomed to in Vegas. But I am not a fan of going with full backing tracks in a show that could be so clearly enriched with live music. This is especially evident when you have experienced the talented musicians in the dedicated Mayfair production, and also at such comparable dinner-show clubs as Delilah.

But some ambient singing and dancing, especially from a cast as terrifically adept as this one, should be applauded. More of this please. But next time, when you bring the steak, offer a side of sax.

Cool Hang Alert

Buzz is intensifying — intensifying, I tell you — about Skye Dee Miles’ “Bourbon and Blues” shows at The Shag Room at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas. Miles is hosting from 10 p.m.-1 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and give hotel reps credit for this fabulous find. Miles has been a column and even family favorite for about 15 years. I’ve brought some friends from out of town to see her show, they love it, and that’s what buzz is all about. Oh, and no cover, either.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.