Mona Shield Payne / Special to the Sun
Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014 | 7:03 p.m.
John Katsilometes and Tricia McCrone talk to Paul Shortino and John Payne of "Raiding the Rock Vault" at LVH.
John Payne has developed a beyond-credible interpretation of the vocal stylings and stage manner of AC/DC’s Brian Johnson.
Paul Shortino has added a black cane topped by a silver-studded skull. This is evidently just a stage prop, though Shortino sometimes does seem to address the little cranium while singing “Livin’ on a Prayer.”
Those are a couple of the new changes in “Raiding the Rock Vault” at LVH. The musical remains centered on an unearthed vault filled with centuries-old, but far from petrified, classic-rock music. The show has returned with in full flourish and high volume, with the amps sufficiently cranked to 11.
Once thought to be headed out through the in door back in December, the show was thrown a lifeline by LVH, which is now heavily invested in sustaining the production financially and is boosting the show with an aggressive marketing campaign trumpeting the phrase, “Classic Rock by Those Who Rocked It.”
Artistically, “Rock Vault” is back and more robust than ever, with significant changes in lineup and some swapped songs (including a two-song AC/DC burst featuring a growling Payne on lead vocals).
Payne (long of Asia) and Shortino (famous for singing with Quiet Riot and for his great cameo in “This Is Spinal Tap”) joined “Kats With the Dish” a few days ago for the show that aired at 9 p.m. Friday on KUNV 91.5-FM.
Payne, on the return of “Raiding the Rock Vault” to LVH:
I think a lot of people don’t realize how Vegas shows work. You basically rent the theater, do all the publicity and work the show. We did that for a year. Now the LVH has come on board as partners, which we are really happy about. They are doing an amazing job. The support has been great from the management to the financial team behind it. It’s given us a great lease in life and a reason to rewrite the show a little bit.
I was talking with Rick White, the VP of entertainment at LVH, and he’s been behind the show so much. He signed the show. Today I approved the cutouts, so there are going to be life-size versions of us around the building.
Payne, on how the show has changed since its return:
We’ve updated some of the cast and some of the show. We have a new singer and a new guitarist. Doug Aldrich from Whitesnake, and Dio has come on. We have Carol-Lyn Liddle, who did a show here called “Monsters of Rock,” and also Stephanie Calvert, who toured with Starship. We’ve also trimmed some things and tried to make it more appealing.
Payne, on the addition of Aldrich:
With Asia, I toured with Doug in Dio about maybe six years ago, and Doug just knocked me out every night, and I thought, “I’d really love to work with this guy.” I tried to get Doug in the show last year. Now Doug has a young child, and he’d really like to stay in one place. Plus, Whitesnake is not touring. It’s so cool that (Whitesnake frontman) David Coverdale has been tweeting about the show, as well.
On the response they are getting from other rock musicians:
Shortino: I’ve heard from people who I haven’t heard from in years who want to get into “Raiding the Rock Vault.” John and everybody who put the show together have ideas of eventually having other companies.
Payne: We would love the possibility of taking the show to Macau and Singapore. We would have a different cast but still have the same model of guys from name bands.
Shortino, on the crowds they are getting at LVH:
It’s been great. We’ve had the support of the locals. Also, as we sign some of the merchandise, a lot of the people are telling us they are booking their trips from Europe just to see the show. Now with Doug being on board, he has a large following of Asians.
On how they feel after doing more than 200 shows of “Raiding the Rock Vault”:
Payne: Initially, I kind of wanted to keep going with Asia. I just mixed a new Asia album, and that should be coming out soon. My goal was actually to stay here for three months and go on tour with Asia, but I love it so much, I can’t leave. You don’t have to be in a tour bus all night, and there is so much camaraderie onstage. After 200 shows, you’d think I’d be bored to hell playing someone else’s songs, but it’s wonderful.
Shortino: It’s a lot of fun, but I think the creativity of it is the changing. You just have to be on your game every night. I love it. This is my dream come true.
Payne: Initially, I didn’t plan it as a Vegas show. I wanted it to be a touring thing. Then we did one show, and people were like, “You should take this to Vegas.”
Shortino: I had said that I’d love to have a show in Vegas and have my face on billboards, and then John showed up.