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Miley Cyrus sports black leather at iHeartRadio in Las Vegas

Updated September 22, 2019 - 11:24 am

The Kats! Bureau at this writing is in the precise spot from 24 hours ago in section 9 of T-Mobile Arena, and the second night of iHeartRadio Music Festival. On my way in, I ran into Vegas guitar virtuoso John Wedemeyer, who is “gigging” (as the kids say) with Pop 40 on Brooklyn Bridge at New York-New York.

“Who’s headlining tonight?” he asked.

“For me, Def Leppard,” I said.

“Ah! No Rush?” he said. “Not tonight!” I said. Inside joke.

More from the scene. As Def Leppard would say, “Let it rock.”

Miley’s ‘Black’ cover

Miley Cyrus, fashioned in black leather dripping with silver chains, swept into Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog.” The tempo was all over the place (covering Led Zeppelin is a challenging task) but Cyrus screamed the vocals with Plant-like zeal. Afterward, she said, “This seems like the perfect time to sing my new song with Ariana Grande,” which she did, breaking out, “Don’t Call Me Again.” She took on Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb,” and thundered through “Wrecking Ball.”

Somewhere, post-twerking, Cyrus has achieved real credibility — especially as a live performer. Pin her name to the ever-blossoming list of potential Strip resident headliners.

Are you getting it?

Def Leppard displayed many of the stage effects from their headlining run at Zappos Theater in July, including the flourish of old-Vegas neon signs on the big screen. Front man Joe Elliott SP dedicated “Armageddon It” to the late Eddie Money, and “Pour Some Sugar On Me” to the very current Cyrus. Elliott also said, “We will see you sometime, somewhere in 2020.” Maybe on the Strip, is how I took that.

Our Brown moment

Zac Brown is having a far better weekend than, say, Antonio Brown. His band is known to push artistic boundaries, which is why the person introducing it, Scott Foley, said just that. We remember when Brown sang “The Way You Look Tonight” at the “Sinatra 100: An All-Star Grammy Concert” at Encore Theater in December 2015.

Saturday, Brown sampled his wide range of tastes, striding easily along the stage for “Colder Weather,” the first ballad of the night, and a beauty. He also slid into a smooth version of “Take It To The Limit,” the classic by the Eagles, who play MGM Grand Garden — once the home of this very show — Sept. 27-28 and Oct. 5.

The set closed with fiddle virtuoso Jimmy De Martini singing a cover of Rage Against The Machine’s “Bulls On Parade.” It was ZacFest ‘19.

Unbilled and loving it

T-Pain showed up, unannounced but (we expect) with an invitation. T-Pain let the dreads fly and showed of some advanced grooving. “Hey! Hey!” he shouted during his set. “Hey! Hey!” Fake smoke — or was it real? — emanated from the back of the stage. This man knows how to make an entrance, surprise or otherwise.

Keys of NYC

Alicia Keys (also on the residency wish list at the Kats! Bureau) is an artist who is great in any environment. I once saw her play the Cirque theater at Venetian Macao. True story. Michael Buffer sat in front of me and Keys just blew the place away.

“This Girl is On Fire” opened with a flash, but Keys at the piano is about as good as it gets. Keys unveiled her new song, “Show Me Some Love,” featuring Miguel. She performed a duet with Lewis Capaldi on his new hit, “Someone You Loved,” and sprinted to the close with “No One” and “Empire State of Mind.”

As Keys’ set reinforced, producers have paced this show, and last night’s, ideally, given all the varying genres.

MumfordPalooza

We remember the days in 2011 when Mumford & Sons headlined Boulevard Pool at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. Not tonight. The nine-man ensemble moved to the front of the stage for “The Cave,” adding pyro and a serious dose of sonic power. “I Will Wait,” their biggest hit; and “Guiding Light” were also on the set list.

Chance at church

Chance the Rapper unleashed at team of acrobats, a layered sing-along of almost every number, and personal passion to the penultimate performance. “No Problem” and “Blessings 1” were crowd favorites. Chance has said he will not tour as scheduled this year to be with his family and new baby. He closed with “Blessings 2,” where his message was clear.

That masked man

Marshmello, resident DJ at Kaos Nightclub and Dayclub at the Palms, brought on Kane Brown for some festival-closing explosives. They wrapped a festival that delivered more than 16 hours of music in two days (including the Day Stage at Las Vegas Festival Grounds). The two friends left the crowd wanting more … but only after a long nap.

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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