weather icon Clear

Las Vegas Strip vets Human Nature returning to ‘Motown’

Updated August 15, 2019 - 2:26 pm

Over the past decade on the Las Vegas Strip, singing and grooving to Motown has been second nature for Human Nature. The Aussie quartet is marking its 10-year anniversary in residency in Las Vegas with a renewed emphasis on the Detroit sound, with “Australia’s Human Nature Sings Motown & More.”

Human Nature formally is unveiling the new format to a national TV audience on NBC’s “Today” show in the 10 a.m. hour Monday. The group will sing a Motown song featured in the stage show.

Motown’s prominence in the show coincides with the legendary music label’s 60th anniversary. The new show’s conversion has been gradual, since the quartet returned from a tour of its homeland in the spring.

“We thought maybe there’s a real passion from people for Motown in Australia again, and then we found out it was the 60th anniversary coming up,” said Phil Burton, who joins brothers Mike and Andrew Tierney and Toby Allen as the only performers ever in the act. “All the stars were aligned.”

The quartet has learned, over time, that Motown simply sells well. Fans in Vegas, and on frequent tours, always gravitate to those classics.

“We actually put a whole bunch of Motown in the show, for the Christmas show,” Andrew Tierney said during a recent interview in the band’s dressing room at Sands Showroom. Burton cut in with, “And the audience was incredible. It was like, when we hit that point and we all kind of looked at each other and thought …”

There was no need to finish the sentence. The show’s title and song list is again reminding of Motown. Lest we forget, Motown legend Smokey Robinson has endorsed the act since it opened in 2009 at then-Imperial Palace. The guys shifted to “Jukebox” in April 2016, incorporating such artists as The Beatles, Bee Gees, Beach Boys and even Meghan Trainor and Justin Bieber in the show.

Some “Jukebox” numbers will remain, but the guys always have soared and scored with “My Girl,” “Stop In the Name of Love,”“Baby I Need Your Lovin’,” “Dancing in the Street,” and “Uptight.”

Even given its impressive longevity, Human Nature has had to adjust and tighten its budget to remain profitable. Popular trumpet player Isaac Tubb, a five-year member of the act’s backing band, was let go for financial reasons in June. The band still rocks with Tommy Alvarado on sax, Otto Ehling on keys, Blaise Sison on bass, Carlos Guerrero on guitar and Greg Babcock on drums. But cutting live musicians, or dancers (no dancers in the “Motown” show, as there were in “Jukebox”) typically is a sign a production is offsetting potential shortfalls.

“It’s just difficult, I think now, with so many residencies and bigger acts, really big names that are filling a lot of those bigger rooms,” Andrew Tierney said. “It’s hard to find the pocket for the smaller shows, where they fit in, how to find an audience.”

I asked a question to the group: “What would you do if you were to produce a new show in Las Vegas?”

Allen was quick to say, “Not put our money in.”

There was a group laugh, harmonious as always. Ten years after opening on the Strip, Human Nature gets it.

Hey, Paula!

Paula Abdul opened “Forever Your Girl” residency at Flamingo Las Vegas on Tuesday night. Pussycat Dolls founder Robin Antin was in the mix; she has been frequenting the Strip scene while looking for a venue for a PCD revival in Vegas (as previously noted, the “Magic Mike Live” room at Hard Rock Hotel/Virgin Hotels Las Vegas is one target).

Also of interest is the contributions of Nappytabs choreography team Napoleon and Tabitha D’umo. The duo has extensive TV and Strip experience (“So You Think You Can Dance,” “Jabbawockeez,” “Viva Elvis,” and Jennifer Lopez’s “All I Have” residency). Though not confirmed to formally be directing the Abdul show, the couple has been working with the cast, and this is shaping up as a serious dance party. Abdul still can bring it, and her backing dancers are stellar.

Cool Hang Alert

The last time Michelle Rohl appeared at Myron’s Cabaret Jazz, a group of attendees that included Drew Carey had to help me pull a lost dog out of my car during a Vegas monsoon. True story. The doggie somehow fled to the Smith Center and dove into my vehicle at valet.

Carey, a friend of music director/trumpet ace/producer Lon Bronson, was on hand to see Rohl’s Janis Joplin tribute, and it’s a powerful trip to the late-60s.

“Kozmic Blues” returns at 7 p.m. Saturday, celebrating the 50th anniversary of Woodstock and Joplin’s own tenacious performing style. As we’ve already learned, Rohl, can touch off a storm.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson. Las Vegas Sands operates The Venetian.

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.
Entertainment Videos
Juan’s Flaming Fajitas in Las Vegas celebrates National Fajita Day
Cook Ruben Fuentes and general manager Taylor Pulliam of Juan’s Flaming Fajitas in Las Vegas prepare steak and shrimp fajitas with the restaurant’s signature fiery treatment. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pasta Shop Ristorante serves a watermelon-shrimp salad
Pasta Shop Ristorante & Art Gallery in Henderson serves a summer salad that combines watermelon with greens, feta and shrimp. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Factory Kitchen in Las Vegas makes classic affogato
Jorge Luque, pastry chef at The Factory Kitchen at The Venetian in Las Vegas, makes affogato with two simple ingredients - house-made gelato and fresh espresso. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review Journal with image from The Factory Kitchen)
The Cereal Killerz Kitchen serves over 100 cereals
Christopher Burns, owner of The Cereal Killerz Kitchen at Galleria at Sunset mall in Henderson, makes a Milk & Cookies Shake from his more than 100 varieties of cereal. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer in Las Vegas makes a State Fair CrazyShake
Bianca Zepeva, a shaker at Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer at The Venetian in Las Vegas, makes a State Fair CrazyShake with a kettle corn rim, caramel, corn-based ice cream, popcorn brittle, crushed kettle corn, sprinkles and a cherry. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal)
Balboa Pizza Company makes Thai peanut chicken wings
Irma Perez, kitchen manager at Balboa Pizza Company at The District at Green Valley Ranch in Henderson, near Las Vegas, brines chicken wings for 24 hours before roasting and frying them and finishing them in various styles such as Thai peanut. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal)
New Venetian pool deck
Final touches are currently being added to the hotel’s main tower pool deck, which consists of five pools. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Who is Vegas Vic? (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada State Museum Director Dennis McBride explains the origins of the Vegas icon.
Slater’s 50/50 in Las Vegas serves a 4-pound Big Island Feast Burger
Cindy Sun, general manager of Slater’s 50/50 in Las Vegas, makes the Big Island Feast Burger with 2 1/2 pounds of the house bacon/beef blend, Napa-cilantro slaw, six slices of American cheese, a can of grilled Spam, six slices of chargrilled pineapple, four fried eggs and a drizzle of teriyaki and serves it with macaroni salad. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Get a first look of MSG Sphere construction in Las Vegas
Representatives of The Madison Square Garden Company give the first glimpse of progress Tuesday of the under-construction MSG Sphere — a first-of-its-kind performance venue with high-tech audio and visual capabilities.
Shark Week cupcakes at Freed’s Bakery in Las Vegas
Brittnee Klinger, a cake decorator at Freed’s Bakery in Las Vegas, makes Shark Week cupcakes with ocean-blue buttercream, fondant fins and a blood-red strawberry filling. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Fans and friends recall Elvis opening in Las Vegas
Fifty years ago on July 31st 1969, Elvis Presley opened at the International hotel in Las Vegas. He went on to do 837 consecutive sold-out shows at the property.
Hot peach cobbler at Beaumont’s Southern Kitchen at Texas Station
Michael Ross, room chef/pitmaster at Beaumont’s Southern Kitchen at Texas Station in Las Vegas, makes peach cobbler by baking peaches in a cast-iron pan with batter and crumble, then topping with Haagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream and bourbon-caramel sauce. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Water Grill opens at The Forum Shops at Caesars in Las Vegas
Water Grill, from a 30-year-old California company opening its first Las Vegas location, specializes is fresh seafood including 16 types of oysters. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Cat's Meow comes to Las Vegas
New Orleans-based karaoke chain opens new location in Neonopolis. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making the Loco Moco Breakfast Burger at Broken Yolk Cafe in Las Vegas
Manny Menina, line cook at Broken Yolk Cafe in Las Vegas, stacks 8 ounces of beef, 2 strips of bacon, hash browns, caramelized onions and 2 fried eggs on 4 King’s Hawaiian slider buns to make the Loco Moco Breakfast Burger. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
SecretBurger at China Poblano at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
Carlos Cruz, executive chef of Jose Andres’ China Poblano at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, makes the SecretBurger off-menu, one-night-only ‘All Quacked Up’ with a kimchi pancake, Peking duck, house-made hoisin sauce, a fried duck egg, pickled micro-vegetables, caviar and gold flakes and serves it with a Stillwater Artisanal Ale. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Famous Blue Angel statue commemorated in downtown Las Vegas mural
The 16-foot tall Blue Angel statue that stood above the Blue Angel Motel for six decades is featured in a mural spanning three walls at a downtown Las Vegas building. James Stanford designed the “A Phalanx of Angels Ascending" mural based on his photography, and Cliff Morris painted the mural at 705 Las Vegas Blvd. North, near the Neon Museum. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Making Castle Frites at the new Frites at Excalibur
Tom McGrath, district manager/executive chef at Frites at the Excalibur in Las Vegas, tops his beef-tallow fries like a loaded baked potato - with white and yellow cheddar, sour cream, bacon and chives. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hello Kitty Cafe on Las Vegas Strip - VIDEO
The Hello Kitty Cafe opens Friday, July 12th, 2019, between New York, New York and Park MGM on the Las Vegas Strip. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Amano Las Vegas' Fat Baby Sandwich
Chef Jason Weber of Amano Las Vegas has created a sandwich stuffed with pasta, and it's a hit. (Mat Luschek / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A class at Melissa Coppel Chocolate and Pastry School in Las Vegas.
Melissa Coppel, who teaches classes in various countries around the world, attracts students from far and wide to her eponymous school in Las Vegas. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Havana Lobster at Boteco in Las Vegas. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Marcus Fortunato, co-owner of Boteco in Las Vegas, learned to make Havana Lobster from the chef at El Figaro, a favorite of former Cuban President Fidel Castro.
Chef Gustav Mauler Is retiring
Las Vegas chef Gustav Mauler announces his retirement on Sunday, June 30, 2019.
Bellagio Conservatory unveils Italian summer exhibit
The Bellagio's Conservatory & Botanical Gardens have opened the gates to its summer display. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
A.D. Hopkins on his debut novel
Veteran journalist introduces readers to “The Boys Who Woke Up Early.” (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Seven Magic Mountains restoration complete
Artist Ugo Rondinone’s iconic Seven Magic Mountains receives a complete painting restoration in June 2019.
Making off-the-menu bean curd rolls at Mr. Chow in Las Vegas
Senior chef tournant Cesar Laran has created secret bean curd rolls at Mr. Chow at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. To make them, he rolls bean curd sheets around a filling of carrots, celery and shiitake mushrooms, then smokes them with oolong tea and sugar. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making Bread Pudding French Toast at Esther’s Kitchen in Las Vegas
James Trees, chef/owner of Esther’s Kitchen in Las Vegas, slices house-made blueberry bread pudding, coats it in egg yolks and mascarpone, fries it and tops it with spiced walnuts, Lyle’s Golden Syrup and creme fraiche. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Celine Dion closes 1,141-show residency on Las Vegas Strip - VIDEO
Hear from Celine Dion about her 16 years on the Las Vegas Strip and what the future has in store for her. (Caesars Entertainment)
Jason Aldean announces shows on Las Vegas Strip

Jason Aldean has mused for years about a run in Las Vegas. He’s found his spot at Park Theater on Dec. 6-8 with “Ride All Night.”