Updated October 1, 2019 - 11:39 am
Someone far wiser than I — the esteemed Ozzy Osbourne — once said, “You can’t kill rock and roll!”
You certainly can’t kill Raiding the Rock Vault, a booming study in survival.
The classic-rock production is moving into Rio’s Club 172, just a few somersaults from the Chippendales theater on the upper level of Masquerade Tower. The show closes at Vinyl at Hard Rock Hotel on Dec. 30; the new residency opens Jan. 11 and plays at 8:30 p.m. Saturdays through Wednesdays (tickets start at $69, minus fees, on sale Oct. 17 at RaidingTheRockVault.com).
A powerhouse production filled with A-plus musicians and singers, Rock Vault is entering its fourth Las Vegas hotel since launching at Las Vegas Hilton (later LVH and today Westgate Las Vegas) in March 2013.
Tropicana and Hard Rock have also hosted the Vault. The show is under a one-year contract at the Rio, which has just been purchased by New York investment group Imperial Companies of New York and is now leasing the resort back to Caesars Entertainment for two years — meaning Rock Vault could be looking for a new home again in a year or two.
No concerns. The show always rocks on.
“We make money for hotels,” producer Harry Cowell said in a phone chat Monday. “I have studied this. Our fans spend money when they come to the show.”
Unique to the new venue is Club 172 is both a 220-seat rock club (and also home to “Little Miss Nasty” adult revue) and Japanese restaurant. This opens the possibility of RV covering The Tubes’ “Sushi Girl” as a piece of cross-promotion.
As club owner Tony Srgo says, “In addition to the show, fans of Raiding the Rock Vault can enhance their experience by enjoying the best sushi in town.”
We will see exactly how these two concepts will be paired, though you can expect show-and-dinner packages at the new Rio venue. Musically, the show is already a proven commodity.
Rock Vault boasts two Rock and Roll Hall of Famers in guitarist Howard Leese (inducted with Heart), and bassist Hugh McDonald (inducted with Bon Jovi). Artists rotating in the show are vocalists Robin McAuley (MSG, Survivor), Paul Shortino (Rough Cutt, Quiet Riot), Todd Kerns (Slash), John Bisaha (The Babys), Johnny Solinger (Skid Row), Megan Rüger (“The Voice”), Paul Johnson (“Rock of Ages”) and Cian Coey (Meat Loaf, Dweezil Zappa); keyboardist Michael T. Ross (Lita Ford, Missing Persons); guitarists Rowan Robertson (Dio) and Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake, Dio, The Dead Daisies), Z. Maddox (“Rock of Ages”), Christian Brady (Hellyeah) and Jason Boyleston (Paul Rodgers Band); bassists Phil Soussan (Ozzy, Billy Idol, Last in Line), Dan Grennes (Billie Joe Armstrong, Melissa Etheridge) and Tony Franklin (The Firm, Whitesnake, Blue Murder); drummers Jay Schellen (Yes, Asia, Badfinger) and Blas Elias (Slaughter, Trans-Siberian Orchestra); and backing dancers Sarah Jessica Rhodes and Christine Vanover.
If it seems like that’s a lot for a single residency, it is. But Rock Vault also runs road shows in such locales as Juneau, Alaska (Oct. 11) and the Subterania in London (Dec. 5-7). The show headlined an outdoor show at Cactus Petes in Jackpot last Saturday.
As always, the production revives rock classics dating to the early 1960s. The band thunders through hits by such rock luminaries as The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Free, Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Queen, Boston, Kansas, Aerosmith, Van Halen, AC/DC, Pat Benatar, Foreigner, Heart, Journey, Bon Jovi and Whitesnake.
The formula has worked particularly well in the 350-seat Vinyl at Hard Rock Hotel. As recently as Friday, Hard Rock/Virgin ownership group J.C. Hospitality President and CEO Richard “Boz” Bosworth said he hoped to stage Rock Vault in Vinyl after the hotel re-opens in December 2020 (Hard Rock goes dark after Super Bowl Sunday on Feb. 2).
Bosworth says that offer remains open in 2021, and the Rock Vault production lines up well with the Virgin Hotels brand. The show opened at Hard Rock in March 2017 and has logged a total of 574 shows at Vinyl and 1,427 performances in Las Vegas.
RV has become a TripAdvisor favorite and multiple award-winner in the RJ’s Best of Las Vegas poll.
“I knew we had hit a nerve with the amazing reviews,” Cowell said when asked if he expected the show to last this long when it opened in 2013. “But I never thought for one moment we would be starting seven years in Las Vegas. It’s fabulous.”
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.