Are the ties between “old” and “new” Vegas officially severed?
If you don’t remember “then,” are you perfectly happy with “now”?
A couple of acts may soon find out.
Robin Antin believes, “If Frank (Sinatra) were here today, he’d be tatted and he would be cool,” in a way that translates to today’s fashions.
She says this not long before Matt Goss, the singer that the Pussycat Dolls founder is promoting at the Palms, kicks off a rehearsal set with “Luck Be A Lady.”
Goss is a veteran of British pop and plans to focus on his original songs. Even so, “I want to sing a few standards in Vegas,” he says. “It’s just as exciting for me to sing a few songs as hopefully it is for people to hear it.”
Chris Phillips of the duo Zowie Bowie says, “My passion and the reason for coming to Las Vegas, kind of like my agenda and mission, was to keep the old spirit of Las Vegas alive.”
He and partner Marley Taylor are putting their own money on the line come Sept. 13, betting people will share their passion for a weekly “Vintage Vegas Show” with an 18-piece big band.
“We’re going to do our damndest to try to create at least one night where people can have that genuine Vegas feeling,” Phillips says.
But that begs the question: What now constitutes a genuine Vegas feeling?
Goss is 40 and Phillips a bit older, both old enough to have parents from the crooner era. Growing up in Arizona, Phillips remembers, “As a kid, I would come out here, and I felt a such a strong feeling of what the essence of Vegas was all about.”
But Studio 54 and Ra, the Luxor club that gave way to LAX, opened in 1998. It’s entirely possible that for 11 years’ worth of customers, a night at Pure is authentic Vegas. “The Hangover,” not “Swingers.”
Except, we seem to miss at least parts of what we tore down. No one is building any more Venetians. CityCenter renderings seem to reference the ’50s modern of old Vegas.
That may explain why Goss and Antin are sticklers for style, even if he’s not slavish to the standards. The Pussycat Dolls were “very inspired by burlesque, but I wasn’t ripping off anything. I wasn’t taking anything and doing it exactly the same way,” Antin says. Similarly, “Matt has the greatest style guys are going to be so influenced by.”
Phillips says the Zowie Bowie shows will reference Tom Jones as much as the Rat Pack. “There is a fine line between the attitude of modern-day rappers and old-time Rat-Packers,” he says. “A pseudo-reckless, partyin’ kind of free for all.”
He hopes younger folks will connect to “a guy who is slightly intoxicated, on his soapbox speaking the gospel of Las Vegas.”
That, he believes, is “the same kind of edge that made the city exciting 40 years ago.”
Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0288.