Last night being my wonderful wife’s birthday, I took her out to dinner and thence to Taylor Hicks at Bally’s, now in the 10th week of an eight-week run (and, no, that’s not a typo). Big ups to Caesars Entertainment, incidentally, for supplying patrons with illuminated cocktail menus that can be read in the dark. Now that — is what I call progress. Rather than the usual, self-laudatory video montage, Hicks opens just with this …
Fortunately, his technical people show the video correctly, not reversed. Besides, having Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon as your de facto warm-up act isn’t a bad way to start. From then onward, it’s just Hicks and his band, flat-out jamming for 110 minutes (at insanely good prices), including a marathon version of Elvis Presley’s chart-topper “In the Ghetto,” penned by the unjustly forgotten Mac Davis. At the close quarters of the The Indigo Lounge, Hicks’ voice and his incredibly fluent combo really pack a wallop. It’s what “Vegas” used to signify: Seeing first-range entertainers in an intimate space. The Indigo’s lack of sound-deadening curtains means there’s a lot (a lot) of bleed-through from the slot floor. There’s method to that seeming madness, because it sets up a visual coup de theatre during Hicks’ closing number, the all-but-statutory “Viva Las Vegas.”
Hicks was packing ‘em in on a Monday night and the crowd had an exceptionally AARP-eligible skew — including the winner of the David S. Broder Lookalike Contest — but they ate him up. Come to think of it, this was the demographic that was supposed to be attending Surf the Musical, in its death throes a few doors down the Strip. If the American Idol winner is amendable to another extension — or to regular residences — Caesars would be crazy not to re-sign him. And if they don’t, he appears to be precisely the marquee attraction the Riviera needs but lacks. Come to think of it, Boyd Gaming has a few near-Strip showrooms that would just about right. Let the bidding war commence!
Holy non-sequitur, Batman!
There’s no end of irony to Sheldon Adelson (the unnamed “boss at a Vegas casino”) bankrolling an ad that punches nearly every anti-Vegas/anti-gambling hot button imaginable. These sort of hokey advertising tropes are what one expects in races where a candidate — say former Iowa governor Chet Culver (D) — appears to be on the take from wannabe casino developers, let’s say, or when Penn National Gaming was trying to ratfuck Cordish Gaming out of a license in Maryland. But the Gambling = Corruption metaphor is such ancient, cobwebbed trope in Nevada, it tells you how culturally out-of-touch the smarty-pants set on K Street really is. As for the manliness of hiding behind the skirts of a PAC to settle the hash of a former employee, that’s a matter for Sheldon’s conscience … assuming he didn’t sell it to the Red Chinese a good decade ago.