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New Edition sets fastest-sale mark in Wynn production

Updated March 11, 2024 - 11:16 am

There was a time when Mike Tyson attending a New Edition show would send shock waves through the crowd.

That time was Friday night.

It was a rewind for all time at Wynn’s Encore Theater. Reps from concert promoter AEG Presents report that the production sold out its first half-dozen shows in 45 minutes. That’s the fastest six-show sellout ever at Wynn (which typically sells a half-dozen shows at a time).

This week, AEG and the band announced six additional dates in July, going on sale Friday morning.

New Edition brings its classic lineup: Ronnie DeVoe, Bobby Brown, Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, Ralph Tresvant and Johnny Gill are all performing the Vegas run. Encore Theater was packed, fans pushing to the edge of the stage even before showtime.

Tyson was in the house, looking fit and ready to pound the heavy bag (or Jake Paul, Iron Mike’s next announced opponent). Macy Gray and Ray Parker Jr. were at the center of the theater. Vegas dignitaries included Raiders President Sandra Douglass Morgan, and the great showman Earl Turner (the sidekick of yours truly for this night on the town).

The New Edition revival showcases all original members in mix-and-match production numbers. The guys crack open The Jacksons (or Jackson 5’s) “ABC,” “I Want You Back” and “The Love You Save.” No break into “Candy Girl,” “Popcorn Love,” “Cool It Now” and “Count Me Out.”

A heavy, metal pay phone is rolled to the stage, to the excitement of those who recall operating those beasts. Bivins grabs the receiver for “Mr. Telephone Man.” The band then introduces Parker, creator of the “Ghostbusters” theme, who wrote the 1983 tune.

There is room for a “I’ll Be Around” in honor of The Spinners. NE paid tribute to the at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and co-founder Henry Fambrough. Gill shines in “Rub You the Right Way,” “This One’s For Me And You,” “My, My, My.” Tresvant owns “Sensitivity.”

Brown, whose mere participation touches off a roar, reaches back for “My Prerogative” and “Every Little Step.”

The band mates take on multiple costume changes, alike suits in black, red and white. They exhaust themselves through original choreography, while confidently owning their age demo. DeVoe asks for those over age 30 to shout. Everyone does. He climbs the ladder, 40-and-over, a few less cheers. “How about 50-and-over! You are in our age range!”

Most of the crowd still roars through the ’60s, ebbing only when DeVoe asks for 70-and-over. There is a septuagenarian fan in the mass of fans up front, something of an inspiration for the band to keep up the energy.

Later, DeVoe, calling for a break between songs, offers, “I’m 56 damn years old! And I’ve been a backup dancer for the lat 3 1/2 songs!”

Appearing in front of a 1990-vintage video clip of himself, Brown performed some classic steps, including a 360-degree step-through move. At age 55 (the Hard 10 on a craps able), the R&B icon finally waves off the number, as if to say, “I’m good!” Understood. Catch your breath. We’ve got a few rounds to go.

On that point …

R&B is becoming the new classic rock in Las Vegas venues. Similar how “legacy” rock acts fill theaters (most recently Chicago at The Venetian Theatre), R&B is driving business at several Vegas houses on and off the Strip. New Edition is crushing it. Usher’s two residencies (Colosseum and Dolby Live) sold out, building momentum to his super Super Bowl halftime performance and a show at T-Mobile Arena. Earth Wind and Fire is a coveted ticket whenever they take over The Venetian Theatre.

Bruno Mars continues to extend at Dolby Live, and is committed long-term with The Pinky Ring at Bellagio. We’d love another run of Mars and Anderson .Paak’s Silk Sonic, too, which turned Dolby Live into a “Soul Train”-inspired dance club.

Expect Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds to fill Pearl at the Palms for his six weekend shows, sprinkled from May through November. Riding a new album full of star collaborations, Jason Derulo is the next headliner at Voltaire at The Venetian. Wu Tang Clan is back at Virgin Theater for March Madness (the March 21-22 shows are nearly sold out). Jodeci launches its first Vegas residency at House of Blues on Friday and Saturday, with a total of 10 dates booked through July 12-13. And we won’t rest until Public Enemy lands one of these residencies, starring Vegas resident-in-fact Flavor Flav.

Celine in NYC

Celine Dion has been spotted in New York City, in a social-media photo posted Friday. The sidelined superstar is shown entering a limo, giving the thumb’s-up sign. She’s wearing some bad-ass, knee-high black boots and a matching trench coat. Calls to her reps for an explanation have gone unheeded (“Unheeded” could be the title of a song or a full Celine show at this point). The plot thickens, more to be revealed, etc. But from here, no news is not bad news.

Cool Hang Alert

Our annual St. Baldrick’s Foundation party is back, set for 8 p.m. (doors at 7 p.m.) Sunday at The Space, home of Mark Shunock’s Mondays Dark charity shows and a host of community performances and vents. This year the Baldrick’s show is a St. Patrick’s Day event rather than a birthday party (too late for that). This show will run in tandem with the 15th annual head-shaving event scheduled for 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday at Nine Fine Irishmen at New York-New York.

The Space event is themed, “Songs In The Year of Life,” where singers perform a song from the year they were born. Kenny Davidsen hosts, with the eight-piece D.C. MagicTones backing band. Singers are being assembled, but expect several Vegas faves. This is an all-GA hang. Bar in the room. Mingle action. No cover. But we are graciously and aggressively accepting donations to the Baldrick’s campaign. Go to StBaldricks.org and search my surname to support.

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 X, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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