I’m going to amaze some of you when I say this; I really enjoyed myself at Legends in Concert, last night. Yes, I know it’s shocking news. Me, enjoying a tribute show in Las Vegas.
Like others who have lived in Las Vegas too many years and seen way too many shows, my view of most celebrity tribute shows (celebrity impersonation) is very low. Just look at all the bad “Elvis” people we have hustling for tip money on the Strip. The typical tribute show is usually filled with hacks who were once told many years ago, that they sound/look like so-and-so. And they believed the drunk relative. So they head to the land of impersonations, Las Vegas. To make a career out of it.
Again, “usually”, they are usually backed by an equally unimpressive group of guys with instruments trying to be real musicians playing around ex-strippers trying to be real dancers. Did I paint a good enough picture??
Ok, so now you know my thoughts as I entered Harrah’s to see Legends in Concert. Let me say two things up front; they need to shoot the sound engineer and there is a reason this show has been around twenty-five years. Wow… The Talent. You need to see this show!
First up was Jerry Lee Lewis (Lance Lipinsky). “The Killer” and he nailed the energy, the vibe and the feel of the man himself. Watching him play the piano, you understood the reason Jerry Lee had that name attached to him. WOnder how many pianos they replace each week?
As he played, the two giant screens on either side of the stage showed clips of the real Jerry Lee playing the song currently being performed on stage with cutbacks to the show we were watching. And I will say this; the dude can play the piano like the man himself. If he was the only act to perform, I would be happy to stay and watch him all night.
At one point, he stopped to talk to the audience while still in character. Joking with the audience and informing the younger people in the audience not to be afraid of what was on stage. Those things the men were holding are called instruments and that’s how music used to be made!
That little blurb had me hooked. If this was the opening act, I knew the rest of the show is going to blow me away and I would have to rethink my views on tribute shows. Unfortunately, the next act almost killed the momentum.
Tina Turner. This is when I realized that the sound engineer needs to be taken out back and shot. Not that he could do anything to improve this hack of a performer, but that he needs to know where the bass knob is on the soundboard and turn it down. I think the thumping sound was heavy enough to set off my car alarm in the parking lot.
Tina was the weak spot of the entire cast. Not convincing in sound, looks or mannerisms. Her voice.. eeeww. Worse than anything I ever heard come from the real Tina Turner. Thankfully the band and the talented dancers helped make it bearable.
From there the show went to Bette Midler. Pretty darn close to the real in mannerisms and voice to the real The Divine Miss M. Of all the Bette imitators I have seen (it’s Vegas, you lose count after the first 50) this one ranks at the top. It was also fun to see the clips of the real Bette through the years on the big screens as we watched the tribute unfold.
Now we come to the shocker of the evening. Michael Jackson (Damian Brantley). Not shocking that he was in the show, but shocking that the impersonator was the first I had ever seen that did real justice to the Talent of Michael Jackson. Everyone, including me, forgets that he did have some amazing musical talent.
Every other MK impersonation you see plays off his weird looks and his habits, leaving the singing talent to someone else. Not this guy. He shows off the voice and the overall talent that Michael really had. I think even the most critical fans of MJ would see this performance and walk away with a different view of “the King of Pop.”
Closing out the show was “the King” Elvis Presley. (surprise?) He was good as Elvis impersonators go. I just never heard Elvis with a slight lisp. He’s not Big Elvis, but he did a very respectable job as Elvis in his early years.
With a final twist, he recreated Elvis’ opening up in Vegas, complete with the larger than life lighted “Elvis” marquee in the background and a quick change in the infamous white sequined jumpsuit. What did you expect from an Elvis impersonator in Vegas??
I will give him bonus points for changing the words to Love Me Tender, to be something of a cheesy pick-up line he used with a female member of the audience. Calling her his Priscilla and asking for her room number! I have to admit, that was pretty original.
That led up to the grand finale with all coming on stage to do a medley of rock hits one at a time. Complete with the dancers and band members taking their turn in the spotlight.
Did I mention the supporting cast? Yes, the normally cheesy, sexy dancers, seeking a pole to dance with? Not here. Nope. Just as impressive as the headlining talent, the dancers were in a league by themselves. Always sexy in a very classy manner and always right on cue.
Like I said, this show will change how you think of tribute shows. The talent filled the stage in all areas (except Tina) including the band. The band didn’t look like a bunch of guys that would hang out together after the gig, but they were talented enough to know they were performing as a group and perform they did.
With the talent on the stage and the screens on either side giving you glimpses of the stage as well as the performing being impersonated, you would be best to sit further back and center in the theater. Get the full impact of the show.
As one who has survived way too many “tribute” shows, let me say this one will change your thinking. It did mine. To keep the show fresh, they change the artists every couple of weeks, so check the websites for current performers. Go See It.
Update:2018. The show is currently next door at the Flamingo Resort. All other info is still valid.