Stratosphere jumps into the rock tribute arena with an A-list entry…
Lately, we’ve seen a resurgence in retro music trends, like the funky styles of Cameo and Purple Reign at Westgate. Rock tributes have been the biggest craze of the nostalgic variety, with classic-rock Fremont Street shows (both live bands and VivaVision video tributes) and plenty of rock-vault residencies on and around the Strip.
Stratosphere is a bit late to the game (unless you count their American Superstars production, which closed exactly six years ago this month), but the recent shuttering of Pin-Up (after a four-year run) opened the showroom for another shot at rock star glory. Based on what I saw last week, the Strat might have a new hit on their roster. For those who yearn for faithful recreations of their favorite bands, World’s Greatest Rock Show will lift you to your feet and have you pumping your fist.
The elements of an enjoyable tribute show are a relatively simple concoction: convincing likenesses, strong vocal and instrumental performances, a collection of crowd-pleasing hits and a fast-moving presentation. Pour those ingredients onto a well-amplified stage and everyone should be happy.
W.G.R.S. fulfills and surpasses expectations by filling the cast with intensely-talented performers. Emmy-nominated Lon Bronson, a Smith Center favorite with decades of both behind the scenes and onstage, serves as musical director for a wide array of legendary favorites.
After a brief intro, Rock Show blasts out of the starting gate with an awesome Bruce Springsteen collection (courtesy of handsome Michael Shapiro) and a crackerjack back-up band..and never lets up.
Anne Martinez, a frequent Bronson collaborator whom I recently profiled here, somehow finds the time between BAZ: Star Crossed Love and her own self-created shows to appear as half of distaff Seattle band HEART. Anne and former Zarkana vocalist Cassie Stone hit all the right notes in their set…not an easy task if you remember the powerhouse vocals of Ann and Nancy Wilson.
Subsequent segments featuring the works of Van Halen, Journey, Meatloaf and KISS are all worthy of praise. Alumni from the likes of Rock of Ages and other Vegas productions shine throughout the evening. No acts cross into parody, but instead remain faithful to the style and energy of the original artists in their prime.
One small caveat, though…a supposedly-comedic wraparound bit with “Ozzy Osbourne” stumbling across the stage was distracting, unnecessary and ultimately annoying. It cheapened the proceedings and reminded that you were watching impressionists instead of an actual superstar rock festival. Dude, get off the stage!
World’s Greatest Rock Show had its soft opening on April 7th and officially premiered to the press on the 27th. I was invited to take in an early performance, and although it was probably being tweaked at the time, Rock Show is off to a very solid start. Consider seeing it on your next trip to the Stratosphere…or make it your reason for heading there.
World’s Greatest Rock Show performs Tuesday through Sunday at 9 pm inside Stratosphere’s main showroom. It is family-friendly. Tickets start at $35.00 plus taxes/fees and can be ordered here. Groupon is currently offering significant discounts through November 25th, available by clicking here.