Viva Las Vegas! Joe Walsh residency, Britney Spears' Piece of Me + we check in with Sheena Easton & more.

Started the year off right (after such a strange & surreal 2016) with a month of activity in Sin City.
In town primarily covering the AVN Expo also tacked on some coverage of some great performances & residencies.


Joe Walsh - January 18th - Mandalay Bay - House of Blues - Las Vegas

This was night #4 of a six night residency over a ten day period & the first show in 4 days.
Joe Walsh is one of the great gunslingers of any time & proceeded to treat us all to some straight up lawlessness that made the next two hours seem like hanging out with an old friend. 
From the opening James Gang number Walk Away longtime fans got the nod with Help Me Through the Night, & that was just the beginning of a night of music that inspired that anything was possible.



He talked about everything from these six House of Blues shows through Jan. 21 to the year just ended (“I didn’t like that so much”) to the one just starting (“The first 100 days are gonna be a hoot”). The title track to his 2012 album Analog Man gave Walsh to put the current insufferable concert ettiquette of playing to a wall of cell phones on blast: “You can have your iPhone pointed at me, and put it on the internet. Or, you can just look up.” 

Solo albums and the James Gang mean Walsh relies less on his work with the Eagles but he performed Take It to the Limit & dedicated to the late Glenn Frey appropriately as today was the one year anniversary of his sudden death last year.
Heater served up Life in the Fast Lane which he co-wrote with Frey and Don Henley, after mock protest that it’s “a real pain in the ass to play.” 

As he hit the homestretch with his signature Life’s Been Good, the giant rear screen showed us snapshots of the singer-guitarist with rock’s upper tier of royalty: Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, Keith Richards and Ron Wood, Pete Townshend, Bruce Springsteen … the list goes on. 
And then he played Rocky Mountain Way to send us home. A longtime friend indeed.

Setlist - 

Walk Away (James Gang song) 
Ordinary Average Guy 
A Life of Illusion 
The Confessor 
Rosewood Bitters 
Analog Man 
Take It to the Limit (Eagles song) 
One Day at a Time 
Mother Says 
The Bomber: Closet Queen/Bolero/Cast Your Fate to the Wind (James Gang song) 
Turn to Stone 
Help Me Through the Night (James Gang)
Life in the Fast Lane (Eagles song) 
In the City 
Funk #49 (James Gang song) 
Life's Been Good 

Encore: 

Rocky Mountain Way

 

Steel Panther - January 19th - The Cromwell - Drai's Nightclub - Las Vegas

Huge fan of Steel Panther & have seen them many times & usually attend their residency multiple times when I'm in Los Angeles.
They played last year appropriately given their explicit content during the AVN Expo at the House of Blues at Mandalay Bay (see above) to one of the most rocking & unique shows of the dozens I've seen complete with cast members from Pawn Stars.
It was a wild time even for these guys, so I was excited & expecting more of the same even if I was completely unfamiliar with this venue/hotel.

I called ahead of time to find out set times & couldn't believe it when told they weren't going on til like 1am (Vegas for real).
Inspired I even showed up in Hair Metal Cosplay from this past Halloween for a character I came up with for a Texas wrestling promotion I work with called Def Halen, I was ready to rock.
Only to discover that they were playing this straight up stuffy nightclub with a faux beach theme (while ironically the uptight staff were refusing those wearing shorts).
Right as I was being basically manhandled by security for should have been a routine security check I see Vinnie Paul (Pantera) & his usual entourage roll up.
I was then lead to an elevator & down three flights of stairs by an escort that probably thought I was a loser since I was here alone & made me re-think my costume (hey it seemed like a fun idea earlier).
This is the kind of place I loathe & refuse to perform at in my alter ego DJ TrickyKid, that obnoxious bottle service, velvet rope Kardashian thing.
That slimy thing you used to only really see in Miami but see everywhere now, Steel Panther was gonna play here?
 this cheesy dance club for assholes?
Yes I was technically at the right place - 



...but it was all wrong - in every sense. I honestly don't blame the band & it was probably just an experiment from the booking agent that hopefully they won't repeat. It stripped everything a fan of Steel Panther loves: honesty, abandon & hell original songs of their brand of comedy, they wouldn't even let girls on stage, a staple of any Steel Panther show.
They even reverted back to playing mostly covers & obvious, overplayed covers at that. It was like watching Steel Panther with amnesia & regressing back to 2003 when they were a cover band called Metal Shop. 
Super dissapointing.
 



Britney Spears - January 20th - Planet Hollywood - the Axis Theatre - Las Vegas

While I'm a life-long flag bearer of Rock N Roll & Heavy Metal (see above) I also love pop music especially when it's well done & it's almost impossible I've found to not find Britney Spears endlessly fascinating. I also was out for something else too. In all my years of coming to this crazy city, I realized I had never been to one of the big shows at one of the big casinos. 
No Elton, no Wayne, no Celine, not even the Beatles revue (though I did try once).
I was out to change that most importantly & second I thought of the big shows, this would be the one I wanted to see as I love alot of her songs & thought it would be the most fun.

The whole experience of this show at times feels like a commercial - when you get there, they take your picture against a branded wall (only to attempt to sell it to you for FIFTY DOLLARS at show's end. It's designed to make you feel like a star and it succeeds until you find out what it cost.
After your own paparazzi moment, the main lobby has artifacts from famous video shoots & other parts of her career enshrined like a museum.



I get to my seat which is ample (shout out to Amy at Will Call) while an unseen DJ is playing free jams while everyone gets seated.
Soon the curtain rises after a countdown & the show begins.


 

 Her show is broken down into seven mini-sets, with different sets, outfits & features racy choreography and elaborate props & at one point straddles a giant guitar 

Britney began her Planet Hollywood residency in 2013, was last year named Best Singer/Musician in the Las Vegas Review &
what sums up why its working so well is its not so much something you watch as something you share with your friends.

Between the lip-syncing and the scarcity of live video close-ups, the performer doesn’t resonate, but the songs do & here it’s more like a celebration of the songs, with Britney as head cheerleader & she looks amazing. 
At 34, Spears has been around for the entire music-listening life of fans her age and younger. Las Vegas is always fretting about what comes after the baby boomers, and these promoters figured it out; especially when it comes to the lucrative gay male demographic in need of a new Cher.  
The show’s detached quality is oddly a plus. The audience is encouraged to get up and dance from the get-go, and no one dances much harder than Britney herself.  

That comes after she floats on angel wings amid pink video blossoms and real confetti snow for “Everytime.” And before the luscious green jungle projections frame a physical tree prop, one that lets Spears step out to the edge of a branch and do a bungee Tarzan glide down to the stage for “Toxic.”  

 Director Baz Halpin keeps the massive space filled with 14 sexy dancers, who take the spotlight for an athletic workout of Missy Elliott hits. But size doesn’t sacrifice detail. For that “Breathe on Me” moment when Britney borrows Lauren Bacall’s line “Just put your lips together and blow,” she cups her hands and blows a cloud of glitter sparkle into the air. But think of her more as a dancer who sings (at least in the studio).
Fun show!

Setlist - 

Act 1 - 


Work Bitch 
Womanizer 
Break the Ice / Piece of Me 

Act II 

Radar (Interlude) 
Me Against the Music 
I Love Rock 'n' Roll (The Arrows cover) 
Gimme More 

Act III 

Everytime 
Baby One More Time / Oops!... I Did It Again 

Act IV 

Boys 
Do You Wanna Come Over? 
Work It / Get Ur Freak On / WTF (Where They From) 
(Missy Elliott Break Dance) 

Act V 

Get Naked (I Got a Plan) 
I'm a Slave 4 U 
Make Me... 
Freakshow 
Do Somethin' 

Act VI 

Circus 
If U Seek Amy 
Breathe on Me 
Slumber Party 
Touch of My Hand 

Act VII 

Toxic 
Stronger 
(You Drive Me) Crazy 
Till the World Ends

 

Scott Ian (DJ set) - January 21st - Circle Bar at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino - Las Vegas

One of the fun things about Vegas is the random people, performers, celebrities you run into that are either here on business or just to have fun like you. After being at this hotel all week covering the shows your reading about as well as the AVN Expo & performing as a DJ myself it was fun to see Scott Ian of Anthrax play some tunes for a special DJ set as part of the Circle Bar celebrity DJ series. The AVN Awards held at the Joint inside the casino had just let out so when you exit to enter the casino this is the first thing you see so this was also a bit of an unofficial after-party.
Every major working porn star & rock royalty spinning tunes, what more could you ask for? Only in Vegas.





Sheena Easton - January 22nd - Suncoast Showroom at the Suncoast Hotel & Casino - Las Vegas 

This might seem random given all that you've read in this post as if I'd just really go to any show (& you'd be right) but I was so excited to add to this motley crew of diversity & to spend my last night in Vegas wrapping up this whole adventure with Sheena Easton. I knew nothing of the show until I happened to be randomly reading that week's travel guide while in bed at my hotel. I LOVE her & was so excited to finally see her live.
However sadly, the fun pretty much stopped there but not in time to keep me from going.

In a surreal final day in Vegas where I spent the afternoon in the apartment of adult industry performer Ivy Brooks, interviewing her & photographing her for this site, I hauled ass in the rain out to Henderson about 10 miles outside of Vegas proper to the saddest, most geriatric of casinos.
I don't say that to be mean, just accurate. When I arrive my ticket is not a Will Call & a nice man with debilitating Parkinson's Disease took pity on me & said he had an extra ticket & invited me to join him.

While I was grateful & enjoyed his company very much, actually meeting him was the best part of the experience as when you hear the stereotype about Vegas residencies, they usually aren't meant as still high-profile affairs like Miss Spears above, but as a punchline as to where no longer relevant performers "end up" if they want to keep getting paid to perform as a last resort. Even in those instances can remain a dignified later chapter to their career. Then you have the "it is what it is" thing that is dinner theater for centenarians & that's exactly what this was.












I was easily the youngest person here by 30 years or more & it never occurred to me that Easton was now close to 60 & then I thought "How is she gonna sing the lyrics to Sugar Walls at this age to this crowd?" I was deflated & it was my own naive fault.
To Sheena's credit, she's very humble & self-effacing about the whole experience & still looks great.

She stayed in the safest of territories doing mostly well known (at least by this crowd) covers of staples including starting off with the Beatles' Got to Get You into My Life - There were some certainly advised omissions of lyrics to some of the racier material she wrote with Prince & while I was glad to hear them, it still felt like I was watching a cover band.....at Luby's.

Thankfully it's still not her only option as this was the last performance for awhile as she was off to London for a year-long stint in a revival of 42nd Street at the Theatre Royale Drury Lane, the next day.

Setlist - 

Got to Get You Into My Life (The Beatles cover) 
Strut 
Almost Over You 
You're No Good (Linda Ronstadt cover) 
How Deep Is the Ocean 
How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You) (Marvin Gaye cover) 
I Wouldn't Beg for Water 
U Got The Look / Sugar Walls ( with The Glamorous Life snippet) 
We've Got Tonight (Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band cover) 
The Lover in Me 
When He Shines 
(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher (Jackie Wilson cover) 
You're All I Need To Get By / Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing (Motown covers medley) 
Telefone (Long Distance Love Affair) 
Morning Train (Nine to Five) 
Anyway (Martina McBride cover) 
For Your Eyes Only


Photos - 

Roy Turner
Denise Truscello

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