Updated December 23, 2019 - 3:54 pm
Incoming and outgoing divas and an aptly titled nightlife fortress are the top three stories in Las Vegas entertainment over the past year.
As such, we offer our first annual (said with confidence) Top 3 Las Vegas Entertainment Stories of 2019.
Away we go:
3 — Lady Gaga rages at Park Theater
More than a residency series, Lady Gaga brought TWO shows to the theater, toggling “Enigma” with “Jazz + Piano.” The former was a Vegas spectacle, the latter a musical history lesson (and also the preference of this scribe).
Gaga also helped set up bandleader Brian Newman’s swingin’, Vegas-fashioned late-night residency, “After Dark,” at Nomad Restaurant, which drew fantastic singers (recurring vocalists Jaclyn McSpadden and Ariana Savales), a wide range of side acts (Puddles Pity Party and Murray Sawchuck), and a cheeky complement of burlesque (Newman’s wife, burlesque star Angie Pontani).
Gaga herself showed up after the “Jazz + Piano” shows, to belt, gyrate and throw back Jamesons. She and Newman leveled the place with “Just a Gigolo” and “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” as the clock crept toward 2 a.m.
Soaring from the success of the Oscar-winning, box-office hit “A Star Is Born,” Gaga also opened the Haus of Gaga display space (be sure to pose for a selfie next to the legendary Meat Dress).
This was more than a residency. It was a happening.
2 — Celine Dion closes at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace
As Gaga arrived, the queen of the Strip residency ended her 16-year hold on the Colosseum. Celine Dion performed 1,141 shows in two residencies dating to 2003. When she started, a residency at a 4,000-seat venue was unheard of.
When Celine left, such venues as Zappos Theater and Park Theater were in steep competition for resident attention, with Elton John, Rod Stewart, Britney Spears, Gwen Stefani, Bruno Mars, Cher, Backstreet Boys, Pitbull, Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera and Reba and Brooks & Dunn headlining their own lavishly produced residencies.
Celine simply redefined the scale of the Vegas headlining series, and as she left, the Colosseum was redesigned to allow for even greater variety. Next year, we’ll see The Who for five shows at her former house. Celine is currently blazing through her “Courage” world tour; I’m betting money on a return to a Vegas residency in 2021. Why else would she be building an estate in The Summit?
1 — Kaos opens, closes
The signature nightlife attraction in the Palms’ $690 million overhaul, Kaos closed in November after a seven-month run. Frank Fertitta III, co-owner of Palms ownership company Station Casinos, said during an earnings call that the fortress was forced to shut down because of the high costs of running a megaclub.
An example of the outlays was the $14 million for the nakedly aggressive “Demon With Bowl” statue created by Damien Hirst. In the headlining strategy, the whopping $60 million, $600,000-per-show contract originally signed by the DJ Marshmello, became a thorny subject; Cardi B, apt to show up at 3 a.m. to perform for less than 30 minutes, pulled in about $300,000 per show to create additional financial challenges, and headlining DJ Kaskade wound up suing the company over breach of contract.
But the upshot was the 70-foot-high, 33,000-square-foot Kaos Dome was an innovative concept, and the company did celebrate its holiday party in the space, which is now open for private events and the occasional photo shoot.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.