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Viva Voltaire: Kylie Minogue opens nightspot with a flourish

Updated November 4, 2023 - 4:18 pm

At the close of her premiere at Voltaire at The Venetian on Friday night, Kylie Minogue stood at the runway in the middle of the club as fans chanted “Ky-Lie! Ky-Lie! Ky-Lie!”

She looked over the crowd, smiled and said, “You know what? We’re small, but we’re mighty!” True of the 1,000-capacity audience, and also of the supremely in-control Minogue. She won the night, and came away with a prize.

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At that show-stopping moment, a backing dancer arrived with a gift for the pop superstar, a thick silver belt, which he fastened to her red jumpsuit. “KYLIE” on the back. “VEGAS” on the front.

“Do you like it?” Minogue asked.

Looks good from here. One weekend into her 20-show run, Minogue wears Vegas well. This comes from an individual who did not own any Minogue music before her residency was formally announced in July. But hey, the new resident headliner destroyed in her version “Padam Padam,” lighting up the sold-out crowd with her latest hit single.

At 55, Minogue has a top-selling album, “Tension,” which debuted at No. 21 on the Billboard Hot 200. For those of us who recall her break on MTV in the late-’80s, she is a woman after our own hearts.

In the moment

Minogue was in control of this show and manifested its lively party vibe all the way. She delighted the crowd with “Locomotion,” her first hit in 1987, delivering the song gleefully as if singing for the first time. She is a spot-on dancer, and sings a cappella in a few spots — including a wonderful spin through Elvis’ “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”

We’d heard Minogue was evoking The King, but I was thinking “Viva Las Vegas,” the go-to for almost every resident headliner. This was a cagey, and effective, decision.

Minogue is an experienced, comfortable, natural performer, easily connecting with her fans, especially in the snug Voltaire experience. She waded over to the table in our own VIP section and sang a half-minute of “Spinning Around.” This is gold-standard customer service, folks.

Minogue also happily shouted back to folks from around the club, who traveled from as far away as Australia and the U.K., where she is massively popular. “Kylie, we love you!” was repeatedly called out.

Minogue answered one of those cries with, “Give me a minute!” And the fan shouted back, “I want more than a minute with you!”

Easy, fella. This crowd was best described as “aggressively ebullient,” wearing all manner of sparkly attire and makeup.

Well-known space

Minogue, of course, has taken over the heavily hyped nightspot that was originally the theater for Blue Man Group, and later “Rock of Ages.” The place, envisioned by creator and longtime Vegas entertainment official Michael Gruber, is unrecognizable from the days when Blue Men munched on Cap’n Crunch, or the “Rock of Ages” cast belted out “Don’t Stop Believing.”

This experience is beyond a mere theater overhaul. Voltaire is a portal into a different entertainment experience, with its Belle de Nuit sideshow artists performing amid glass bubbles floating from the ceiling. You feel like you’re peering, Alice in Wonderland-style, through the looking glass (filled with Champagne in this case) into a world of aerial acts, body balancers, a chic selfie-video scene at the back of the stage and saucy strip-teases in the middle.

Vegas entertainment types might recognize one of those backing dancers, Yesiney Burgess, from “Fantasy” at Luxor. She’s married to former “Rock of Ages” cast member Troy Burgess, who played Bourbon Room operator Dennis DuPree. So the Voltaire venue also has a Vegas familial connection.

Belle de Nuit is a spectacle unto itself, able to stand on its own, as I mentioned just as I left. The show plays in four-act segments staged near the VIP table section, but easily reaching the standing-room GA section in the back of the room. Sunday night, Minogue is not performing, but famed DJ Jellybean Benitez is at the helm.

Price it out

What Voltaire Belle de Nuit is not is a “value” experience, with the least-expensive GA tickets for Minogue going for $350, table packages for six starting at $3,000, up to $5,500 for parties of 10, all of it available only through Voltaire.com (some tickets were released last week as the club’s seating plot was formalized).

But the Sunday show with Jellybean is on sale for $75 at the GA level, and VIP tables start at $350 (this pairs the $100 admission and $250 minimum table buy). This is about what you’d pay for a headlining show at a top Vegas nightclub.

Voltaire officials resist that word — nightclub — to describe this entertainment haven. It’s a club. It’s at night. But it’s unique for the ample live talent, its chic design and complete reinvention of what was built as a proper theater.

All night I was asked, “Have you seen anything like this in Las Vegas?” I haven’t. It’s not because there has not been ingenuity. There is marvelous entertainment architecture across the city, be it a traditionally appointed theater, a gloriously round theatrical experience, or an intimate supper-club design. But for such a unique place as Voltaire, the stars have not aligned in this way until now. And the star at the middle, thundering through “Padam Padam,” is the one who makes it run.

Cool Hang Alert

Talented showman Michael Nugent plays the Dispensary Lounge at 2451 East Tropicana Avenue (southeast corner of Trop and Eastern) at 8 p.m. Thursday. Joe Darro (keys), Bob Sachs (bass) and Cliff Workman play the music. Icons, all. Hit DispensaryLounge.com for 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 X, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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