weather icon Mostly Cloudy

‘Solid gold’ formats make a small Bally’s showroom dance

Well then, maybe try something old this time?

With shows closing left and right, history might be on the side of two new titles in the Windows Showroom at Bally’s. Either could have opened 20 or 30 years ago. Nothing wrong with old school when it comes right off that stage and sings in your face.

The Bronx Wanderers are what you’d call a show band: a Vegas tradition from Louis Prima in the ’50s to the likes of the Scintas. A show band is essentially a covers band with personality. It’s all in the delivery for these songs rooted in the doo-wop era of a certain New York borough, with a thread of a connecting theme.

The Wanderers are followed (on nights Wayne Newton isn’t performing) by “Solid Gold Soul,” which is positioned as a costumed “Legends”-type show rocking the classic Motown roster, from Jackie Wilson to the Supremes.

But this one ends up being more like a show band as well. The killer musicianship, go-for-broke singers and raucous house-party vibe count for more than the costumes or accuracy of the impressions.

Producers on the Strip are wise to think small these days. The cozy Bally’s venue (once the hotel buffet) creates an immediacy and energy a big theater might stifle. Sitting in the middle of the 40-foot stage, with musicians spread out to each edge, is like sitting in front of a living stereo.

Locals who saw the Bronx Wanderers at South Point know it’s a family band, with frontman Vinny Adinolfi and his two sons as half of the six players. The whole band can chime in with vocal harmonies on “I Wonder Why” or “A Teenager in Love” by Dion — aka “our patron saint,” Adinolfi explains.

A Four Seasons medley keeps us from missing the bygone “Jersey Boys.” But the Wanderers don’t stay rooted in the ’60s. The band’s secret weapon turns out to be the oldest son also named Vinny, who unleashes piano showmanship and trades lead vocals with his dad — with both of them sounding a lot like Billy Joel — on “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant.”

They later cover Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” for no apparent reason other than a show band needs showy, multipart songs to cover. Somehow they missed out on Bruce Springsteen’s “Jungleland.” Instead we got Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk,” a song that, on this day at least, kind of landed splat in that zone between “current” and “classic.”

Fear not, everyone was on their feet for the finale, when the ladies are invited up to dance. This is the difference between a show band and a covers band.

“Solid Gold Soul” punches the Motown happy buttons that get us on our feet like Detroit dogs at the sound of Sam Cooke’s “Twistin’ the Night Away” or the Four Tops’ “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch).”

Producer Nannette Barbera assembled a lavish 16-member ensemble, which hopefully can sustain in the small venue. Many a Las Vegas tribute show had good impersonators undermined by tiny backing combos or recorded tracks.

No such worries here. You smile at the relaxed authority of music director Dino Maddalone’s six-piece band and two backup singers. They make some of the visual touches seem like overkill: dancers swinging around briefcases during “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” or flexing on the piano during “Georgia on My Mind.”

Nonetheless, Marva Scott has a marvelous time dressing up in full ’80s Diana Ross splendor. And there’s a nice piece of theater with dancer Jacqueline Buckmaster Wright as the object of Grady Harrell’s pining on Cooke’s “Bring It On Home to Me.”

But for the most part, neither the venue nor the singers need a lot of production value or wigs, which seem halfhearted and almost create a commitment problem about whether this is a full-on “Legends”-type show or simply a revue.

I’d vote for the latter: a soul show, Apollo Theater-style. By the time you get to Greg “Debonaire” Laster tearing it up as James Brown, you can think back to “Uptown Funk” and why it was such a big hit. Kids responded on a gut level, knowing it came from somewhere, even if they didn’t understand where. Take them in for a history lesson.

Read more from Mike Weatherford at reviewjournal.com. Contact him at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com and follow @Mikeweatherford on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Entertainment Videos
Heavier traffic expected from EDC festival attendees
Electric Daisy Carnival attendees began to vacate the Las Vegas Motor Speedway starting before 5 a.m., the majority heading south on Interstate 15.
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
DJ Steve Aoki visits Las Vegas comic book store
DJ Steve Aoki visits Torpedo Comics in Las Vegas Friday, May 17, 2019, for a signing for his new comic book series "Neon Future." (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas Smith & Wollensky opens at The Venetian
After 18 years, the Smith & Wollensky location on Las Vegas’ south Strip closed in 2017, to be re-born two years later with a rib-cutting — instead of a ribbon-cutting — in The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal)
Colin Cantwell, Creator Of Iconic Star Wars Ships Visits Vegas
Colin Cantwell, who created and designed such "Star Wars" ships as the X-Wing fighter, and Death Star, met fans at Rogue Toys in Las Vegas today. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Beauty & Essex in Las Vegas makes an EDC Wonder Wheel
In honor of the Electric Daisy Carnival, Beauty & Essex at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas makes its Wonder Wheel party-worthy. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Giada talks Vegas Uncork’d
Giada De Laurentiis talks during Aperitivo Hour, a Vegas Uncork'd event, at her Caesars Palace restaurant, Pronto, May 10, 2019. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Scenes from Vegas Uncork’d 2019 on the Las Vegas Strip
The 13th edition of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit brought four days of food, wine, celebrity chefs and parties to town, May 9-12. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Three ingredients Gordon Ramsay can’t live without
Bon Appetit's Andy Baraghani interviews the "Hell's Kitchen" chef during a Vegas Uncork'd event at Caesars Palace, May 11, 2019. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas Uncork’d launches wiith bubbles and a blade
Dozens of chefs representing some of the Strip’s top restaurants gathered Thursday at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas to launch the 2019 edition of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bunky the Clown at the clown convention
Bob "Bunky the Clown" Gretton talks about his life as a clown and the Clown Convention which was in Las Vegas at Texas Station this week. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Frying soft-shell crab at Lola’s in Las Vegas
At Lola’s: A Louisiana Kitchen in Las Vegas, soft-shell crab is breaded and fried and served either as an appetizer, po’boy or platter. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
The Stove in Henderson makes Pecan Pie Pancakes
At The Stove in Henderson, chef/partner Antonio Nunez stacks buttermilk pancakes with pecans and dulce de leche and tops them pie crust crumbs. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vinnie Paul remembered at Count's Vamp'd
The late rocker's favorite table at one of his favorite clubs in Las Vegas. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
4DX movie experience at Red Rock
4DX movie experience during a demo reel at Red Rock. (Christopher Lawrence/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
What To Do On May The 4th
There are plenty of events going on May the 4th this year around Las Vegas. Celebrate Star Wars and Comic Book Day all at once. The Rogue Toys, the 501st, Rebel Legion and Millennium Fandom Bar are all hosting fun events to help celebrate your geek-dom. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Water Sports Introduces New Attraction At Lake Las Vegas
Las Vegas Water Sports will debut its new aqua park attraction at Lake Las Vegas Days this weekend. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Making the Space Invader at Greene St. Kitchen in Las Vegas
Lysa Huerta, pastry cook at Greene St. Kitchen at the Palms in Las Vegas, starts with angel food cake, Fruity Pebbles ice cream and strawberry sorbet to create a space creature engulfed in flashing lights and swirling mists. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Pools
The M, Park MGM and NoMad are just a few great pools in Las Vegas. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jose Andres explains Iberico pork
(Al Mancini/Las Vega Review-Journal)
Inside Life is Beautiful
Craig Asher Nyman explains how Life is Beautiful festival is booked and talks about this year's line-up. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tattoo'd America Pops Up In Vegas
Tattoo'd America, a new pop-up attraction on the Linq Promenade, had their grand opening Friday. The attraction is dedicate to the culture of tattoos. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Jose Andres gets key to the Strip
Chef Jose Andres was presented with a Key to the Las Vegas Strip and a proclamation declaring April 26 Jose Andres Day in Clark County by County Commissioner Tick Segerblom on Friday. The ceremony took place at his restaurant Bazaar Meat in the SLS Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sadelle’s in Las Vegas makes a grilled cheese with an inverted bagel
Michael Vargas, executive sous chef at Sadelle’s at Bellagio in Las Vegas, inverts an everything bagel and grills it with Swiss, cheddar and Muenster cheeses to make the Inverted Bagel Grilled Cheese. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Learn how to make China Poblano's Salt Air Margarita
Learn how to make China Poblano's Salt Air Margarita (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures
Kassandra Lopez at Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Prime rib is carved tableside at Lawry’s The Prime Rib in Las Vegas
Dave Simmons, executive chef of Lawry’s The Prime in Las Vegas, which plans special cuts for National Prime Rib Day, demonstrates the restaurant’s service from rolling tableside carving carts. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making gluten-free pizza at Good Pie in Las Vegas
Good Pie owner/pizzaiola Vincent Rotolo makes his gluten-free pizza.
Rockabilly fans enjoy Las Vegas weather poolside
Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender runs Thursday, April 18th through Sunday, April 21st with a huge car show on Saturday featuring The Reverend Horton Heat, The Delta Bombers and The Coasters. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Brownie sundae at VegeNation in Las Vegas is completely vegan
Donald Lemperle, chef/owner of VegeNation in Las Vegas and nearby Henderson, NV, makes his sundae with ice cream made with coconut and almond milks, a brownie made with coconut flour and oil and organic sugar and cacao, and fresh fruit. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)