New Year’s Eve in VegasVille reached its crescendo after the Backstreet Boys and Calvin Harris had numbed our senses with a wild doubleheader at Forum Ballroom at Caesars Palace. The scene culminated most appropriately, with a dance party at the moat at Cleopatra’s Barge, ending in the wee hours of New Year’s Day.
So many nights have been spent in that aquatically themed haunt, and on NYE it was David Perrico’s Pop Strings
Orchestra holding forth. “Uptown Funk,” as called out by Eric Sean, was a great way to groove in to 2017.
More from NYE, NYD and elsewhere …
WIZ, WEEKND, DIDDY … AND DURANT
The all-time champion of Vegas nightclub appearances for active NBA players probably belongs to Dennis Rodman. In the late 90s, the guy seemed to live here, famously hitting Vegas after the Chicago Bulls lost Game 4 of the 1997 Finals to the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City. Rodman’s presence helped put one of the original Las Vegas mega-clubs, Club Rio, on the national party radar.
Thus, 6-foot-9 inch swingman Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors has some work to do, but he was in the eye of the CÎROC-sponsored hurricane on New Year’s Eve. Though hardly in Rodman’s class as a Strip regular , Durant’s 2017 tip-off included a stop at Marquee at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, where Wiz Khalifa counted down to midnight and The Weeknd hit the stage for “Starboy,” and “I Can’t Feel My Face.” Also under the strobes: hip-hop star Jermaine Dupri and “Instagram King” Dan Bilzerian.
Across the Strip at Lavo at the Palazzo, T-Pain (the Grammy Award-winning rapper) headlined what was billed as “The New Year 2017 After Party.” Durant was there, too, with Diddy, French Montana, DJ Khaled, the singer Halsey, Cassi and DJs Diplo and Chuckie. Also in the intimate club, which was teeming with party scene celebs: Machine Gun Kelly, Terrence J, Jasmine Sanders, rapper and “Empire” actress Bre-Z, rapper Belly, the street artist Mr. Brainwash and “You Tube sensation” Rudy Mancuso.
Yes, many name-checks there, but can any of them check LeBron James? Just the one, and we’ll see Mr. Durant back soon enough, I expect.
GAGA OVER ELTON
A night after her one-off, jazz-infused performance at Encore Theater, Lady Gaga hit Elton John’s show at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace. Gaga has been rumored for an extended engagement at a Strip theater, but not that one.
Gaga, set to perform at the Super Bowl halftime show, might announce a world or U.S. tour by the spring. She is also scheduled to begin filming a remake of “A Star is Born” with Bradley Cooper later this year.
‘SHOWSTOPPERS’ NOTCHES 607
The final tally for “Steve Wynn’s Showstoppers,” which closed on New Year’s Eve, was 607 performances at Encore Theater.
Ambitious, generous and well-conceived, Wynn’s pet project was a show many entertainers and fellow producers felt would run indefinitely simply because of Wynn’s passion for it. Not so, as market trends helped fell the production. The show, which opened in December 2014, was originally to close Sept. 30, but Wynn extended its run to the end of the year (after some contract renegotiations to trim expenses).
Wynn attended the final performance with other members of the “Showstoppers” creative team. Afterward, the cast hit Intrigue for a final shindig. Meanwhile there is no formal word on what is planned next for Encore Theater.
The closing reminds of a favorite scene from the show, which hardly anyone saw: “The Country’s in the Very Best of Times,” from the 1956 musical “Li’l Abner.” Wynn loved the snappy political satire, which he said “could have been written this morning.” But preview audiences didn’t warm to the number and it was spiked.
NAME THAT TUNE
The eight-minute fireworks show on the Strip ushering in 2017 was set to a soundtrack of music performed by artists who departed in 2016, as well as living artists with ties to Las Vegas. Played at high volume were such hits as “All Night Long” by Lionel Richie, “Let’s Dance,” by David Bowie; “These Are Special Times” by Celine Dion and “Let’s Go Crazy” by Prince. In that set list was a Vegas-themed song by Clint Holmes, “LV Las Vegas,” which was co-written by longtime Vegas music director and composer Pat Caddick.
The song was written in 2005, and Holmes wasn’t even aware it had been selected for the fireworks show. There is no official “Las Vegas” song, as designated by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, Clark County Commission or City of Las Vegas. Many have been written, by such performers as Donny & Marie Osmond and Matt Goss, and several artists have recorded version of the unofficial song, “Viva Las Vegas,” topped by Elvis Presley (every rocker from Bruce Springsteen to ZZ Top to The Killers have tackled that classic). This might be the year to canvass those songs and pick one as the city anthem. Then, we can have a healthy argument.
ANOTHER EIGHT-MINUTE SHOW …
We’d learned of Zowie Bowie’s New Year’s Eve conundrum, as Chris Phillips, Jaime Lynch and the assembled musicians performed the VIP party at Caesars Palace before rambling to the 3rd Street Stage on Fremont Street to ring in the New Year.
Phillips booked both shows, but had no plan for how to make this trip — this is what makes him who he is —and rolled the dice by driving himself from Caesars to Fremont Street.
Commendably, Phillips made the trip in just eight minutes, hitting Flamingo Road (being allowed to move through the NYE barricades) to I-15 northbound, exiting at Charleston Boulevard and pulling into the D Las Vegas.
Phillips left Caesars at 9:50 p.m. and was scheduled to take the stage at 11 p.m., but says, “We got there so early, we had an hour to kill!” Then he performed for 10,000 fans on Fremont Street and, yes, killed it, for the second time on a memorable New Year’s Eve.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily 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, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.