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Kool & The Gang plays Westgate with residency dreams

Updated February 3, 2022 - 7:47 pm

Kool & The Gang and Barry Manilow would seem an inventive double-billing, with “Ladies Night” spinning freely into “Copacabana (At the Copa).”

Maybe it’s far-fetched. But the generation-spanning, funk/R&B band is eager to toggle Manilow’s residency at Westgate Las Vegas.

“We hope to share a residency with Barry Manilow, who has had so much success in that room,” Robert “Kool” Bell said in an interview last week. “So this is like a trial, of sorts. That’s what this is all about.”

The band hits the resort for two shows at International Theater on Friday and Saturday night.

Kool & The Gang played the then-Las Vegas Hilton (today’s Westgate) in December 2008. Over the past decade, they have been special guests of Van Halen (speaking of inventive pairings) at MGM Grand Garden in 2012. They played Orleans Arena in the “Keepin’ The Funk Alive Tour” in 2016 along with Doug E. Fresh, Bootsy Collins and Morris Day & The Time. They also headlined the reopening of Tropicana Theater in March 2017.

International Theater has drawn interest in vintage R&B, with buzz around the venue of a May series playing the venue. A few steps away, the tribute show “Soul of Motown” has been running to strong crowds at Westgate Cabaret for more than two years.

Kool & The Gang would, of course, deliver an impressive collection of singalong, dance-along hits. “Get Down On It,” “Jungle Boogie,” “Take It To The Top,” “Hollywood Swinging” all in the band’s catalog of classics. The band lost founding member Dennis “Tee Tee” Thomas, who died in August at age 70. A year earlier, Bell’s brother, Ronald, passed away, leaving the man known as Kool to keep the band going.

Bell returns to Kool & The Gang’s greatest hit, “Celebration,” which during the early 1980s was played about as often as the national anthem at sporting events. The tune arrived from the band’s preceding hit, “Ladies Night,” which was sparked by the rowdy Ladies Nights at Studio 54 in New York and those at clubs around the world.

“We went on to record ‘Ladies Night’ and we won two American Music Awards for the song, it was a great song and everyone loved it,” Bell said. “The hook in the song is, ‘This is your night, tonight, come on let’s all celebrate.’ We said, ‘That’s another song!’”

That song’s lyric seeded an all-time classic, it’s generation’s “Uptown Funk.”

“‘Celebration’ was inspired by the hook of ‘Ladies Night,’ totally,” Bell said. “It was an upbeat song, a happy song, but we didn’t know it would be such a big song.”

“Celebration” is Kool & The Gang’s lone No. 1 single.

“You still hear the song everywhere, you’ll be sitting on a porch in Birmingham, Alabama and hear it, and get taken away,” Bell said. “It’s like being on a rocket ship, and a good vibe to come out of the 1980s.”

Gibbons floors it

Billy F. Gibbons of ZZ Top was named to the Grand National Roadster Show Hall of Fame at the organization’s event Friday at the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds in Pomona. Gibbons accepted the award by telling the crowd of 1,000 gear heads, “I’m going to radically re-shape the ‘34 Ford ZZ Top Eliminator, and CadZZilla, and restore them to their original condition.”

The two custom-restored vehicles are among the most famous street rods in the world, featured in ZZ Top videos and album art for decades. Returning these cars to their original state would be nearly impossible, and sacrilegious to the hot-rod community.

Gibbons was joking, of course. But as he said, “There was a brief gasp.”

‘Marriage’ survives

“Marriage Can Be Murder” has landed at the Orleans. A 22-year institution, most recently in residency at the D Las Vegas, the dinner show reopens Feb. 10 at a new space dubbed The Venue. The annex is just across from the Orleans buffet and will utilize its kitchen for the dinner show. Show times are 7 p.m. (lobby and bar open at 6 p.m.) Thursdays through Sundays, with tickets ranging from $78.94-$102.91 (not including fees).

“MCBM,” as it is known in shorthand, will continue to co-star the husband-wife tandem of Eric and Jane Post. The show changes plots every three months, but in each script someone is offed and it’s up to the audience to figure out the assailant. Dinner includes a choice of beef or chicken entree, a salad, dessert and the famed sourdough bread from our friends Gio and Naomi Mauro of Monzu Italian Oven + Bar.

Show producers John and Shannon Bentham of Ivory Star Productions have been seeking a permanent home since closing at the D in January 2020. The showroom that hosted “MCBM,” Adam London’s “Laughternoon” magic show and “Friends A Parody Musical” was taken apart to make room for BarCanada. London and “Friends” are both expected to return to the Orleans room, too, details to be served.

Cool Hang Alert

Frankie Scinta is returning to South Point Showroom for the first time since the pre-COVID era, at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Scinta says he feels like a true solo artist after the death of his brother and stage sidekick Joey Scinta in November 2017. Sister Chrissi Scinta departed the family act a decade ago because of vocal issues.

“I’m in this position now, and I’m going to give it all I’ve got,” Scinta says. “I’m going to be doing all different types of music that I’m proud of, and the impressions people love, and I’m excited to do it.” Multifaceted vocalist Kelly Vohnn (who delivers great Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire sendups) joins the act for the first time. Tickets for this classic Vegas show are $30; hit the SouthPointCasino.com site for the intel.

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.

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