Saturday, Sept. 5, 2009 | 1:06 p.m.
The latest incarnation of The Rat Pack has touched down in Las Vegas, in an aircraft known as Goss Airlines, where the flight attendants dole out free watermelon shots and the British pilot really digs his turbulence.
The hangar for this high-flying act is The Lounge at the Palms, and the man at the stick is hyper-hip Matt Goss. The $25-per-ticket show’s title is “Matt Goss Live From Las Vegas,” which is pretty staid stuff considering the rowdiness that unfolded last night in the jammed Lounge -- which I think we’re calling The Gossy Room now. (I love that Goss surname, incidentally. It’s so Gossy, Viva Goss Vegas. Great Goss A’ Mighty. Jumpin’ Jack Flash it’s a Goss-Goss-Goss.)
To describe Goss, who two decades ago was a member of the British boy band Bros, is fairly simple: He’s an English Justin Timberlake type (J.T. fans would deem him a knockoff, likely) who seems spiritually inspired by George Clooney’s Danny Ocean character. Goss is hyper-hip in an inherently British way, and watching him sing, step and snap his way through last night’s hourlong showcase, I felt much of his appeal is simply that he is British. A guy from, say, Boise would likely be received far more skeptically while attempting to evoke the spirit of The Rat Pack while wearing a burnt-orange suit/vest combo that didn’t seem to fit quite right and exposed (horrors!) something of a paunch. As the 40-year-old lady magnet frequently reached behind to tug up his low-cut trousers, I thought, either get to the gym or change tailors. To be fair, the subsequent suits -- lighter in color and a lot more dazzling -- fit far better, as did his fedora. Maybe, if you’re a hip English music artist, the ill-fitting look can be explained by saying, “That’s just his style, mate.”
But getting past such wardrobe malfunctions is easy with Goss, who was long ago and justifiably dubbed “The Voice.” The guy can really throw it vocally, and needed to be at full power to keep pace with a superb and voluminous eight-piece band and two backing vocalists. The horn section is Studio City, Calif.-based trio The Regiment Horns, which has recorded with artists such as Akon, Ashanti, Mary J. Blige, Nelly, Chaka Khan and Dr. Dre, and the band features a happy oddity in a seven-string bass guitar (that’s almost twice the number of strings on a normal bass, folks).
For an additional, adult-targeted production element certain to draw bachelor parties to the show, a quartet of dancers known as the Dirty Virgins (which seems half accurate) gyrate onstage in the requisite leather bustiers and thigh-high black stockings. The dancers and choreography are the creation of Goss’s partner in the Palms production, Pussycat Dolls founder Robin Antin, and if you’ve got a great band with a top-notch vocalist backed by four hot women -- that’s like lining up the cherries. Added to the mix are four monitors playing a loop of suggestive images, of women running their fingers around the rims of cocktail glasses, and tight shots of licking their lips, like The Rolling Stones logo come to life. Another sample of staging wizardry are green lasers fired into the audience from the back of the stage. It’s an effective piece of technical wizardry until one of those beams catches your eyes and you think, whoa, free Lasik.
Goss and the band unleash a lot of his original material, which is great for Goss’s fervent following, but some of the highlights are covers, especially rowdy takes on “Hotel California” and “Luck Be a Lady Tonight.” The volume is jacked up and the action doesn’t cease, and when a lovely flight attendant is passing shots around the room, the party is on. You can’t ask for much more, other than a safe landing.
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