The Kats Report Bureau mobile unit wheeled into Downtown Las Vegas Events Center on Friday night, and Boston and Dennis DeYoung hurled 4,200 or so rock fans back 30 to 40 years.
The night was a celebration of Boston’s 40th anniversary and DeYoung’s remarkable verve even as he is now DeOld — 69, as he happily told the crowd early in the evening.
But the event also served as a showcase for the new concert lineup being ushered in by venue owner Derek Stevens and his newly knighted sidekick, Jeff Victor. The owner of D Las Vegas, Golden Gate, Las Vegas Club and the recently closed Mermaid’s casino and Glitter Gulch strip club, Stevens was easy to spot Friday night — he was the one wearing the black jacket with @DerekjStevens @DLVEC and the famous, flaming Boston spaceship guitar logo stitched on the back.
Victor was not so easily detected but was nonetheless vital to the night’s success. Victor took over as Stevens’ vice president of operations in November, moving over from his post as president of Fremont Street Experience. Victor had spent nine years running the operations under the canopy and knows Fremont Street is especially receptive to classic rock.
The DeYoung/Boston twin bill was just the start of a summer stretch that will rival such established outdoor venues as Mandalay Bay Beach for familiar live acts. Up next: Barenaked Ladies with special guest Howard Jones on Friday; “The Art of Rap” with Public Enemy, Grandmaster Melle Mel and Scorpio; Sugar Hill Gang; EPMD, Naughty By Nature, Mobb Deep and Kurtis Blow on Saturday; the “Summerland” tour with Sugar Ray, Everclear, Lit and Sponge on Aug. 12; Yes on Aug. 27; and Goo Goo Dolls with Collective Soul on Sept. 16.
As for Friday’s show, bands or artists touring on hits that are decades old can miss the mark in this way: Not playing the hits that are decades old. DeYoung in particular understood this and sampled freely from his days with Styx, playing “Sail Away” (the non-Cartman version), “Lady,” “Babe,” “The Best of Times,” and, yeah, “Mr. Roboto.” The highlight was the personal fave, “Renegade.” Midway through the set DeYoung asked who had graduated from high school between 1973 and 1984, and the huge roar emanating from that crowd said, “These are my people.”
Boston, meantime, did a bit more instrumental adventurism that was required for an outdoor crowd ready for a full running of the debut album “Boston” and “Don’t Look Back,” but all the hits were unleashed eventually and co-founder Tom Scholz showed his ongoing guitar brilliance. With the Fremont Street hotels overlooking the DLV Events Center, the band hustled through “Peace of Mind,” “Long Time,” “Rock and Roll Band,” Smokin’” “Amanda” and “Don’t Look Back.”
Next week it’s BNL, and we’ll be back. So, I expect, will about 4,000 downtowners ready for a trip down memory lane, and also Fremont Street.
• Clint Holmes “Between The Lines” opens tonight for its brief preview period (the big gala shindig is Wednesday) at Palazzo Theater. Some quickies about the show:
It was originally to be called “Inspired,” but Holmes’ noted during a marketing meeting that he looked “between the lines” of lyrics in songs he performed, and the collective around the table liked that phrase as a title. “Inspired” was also to be the title of Holmes’ upcoming CD, which was shifted to “Rendezvous” when the title of the show was going to be “Inspired.”
So, a good name for something — “Inspired” — has been dropped entirely.
More than two years in the making, “Rendezvous” will be on sale at Palazzo — and only there — until its public release in the fall. Consider the hotel like Target or Starbucks, whenever those corporations partner with an artist or label to release new music exclusively. Except, this is a really big Target …
• On the topic of bands … the “Everybody” boy-band revue out of Chicago that opened June 24 at Sin City Theater has gone bye, bye bye and no we are not singing as N’Sync. Word came down Tuesday that the band had halted performances because of “internal issues” (ouch) and low ticket sales over its three-week run. The mezzanine level at Planet Hollywood is starting to feel like a shooting gallery these days, for all the shows that have closed … nothing yet announced to replace “Everybody,” which held the 5:30 p.m. slot.
• A quirky show — I hear, as I need to hit this one — that has opened at Laugh Factory at Tropicana is Tommy Savitt’s “Tommy Lama” one-man performance in the 5 p.m. slot.
The character is a cocksure Brooklyn tough guy who has become a life coach and I’ll tell you I know a few of these characters already in Vegas (some are would-be producers). Lama uses reverse-psychology to instruct audience members to “improve” their lives through such methods as alcoholism. A sample sent in the release announcing Savitt’s show: “Dr. Phil says you shouldn’t drink when you’re pregnant. How are you supposed to get pregnant in the first place?”
Show sounds like it’s heavy with improv, and should be a two-drink minimum …