Thursday, June 12, 2014 | 2 a.m.
On the night of May 30, I was at the Joint in the Hard Rock Hotel for a performance by Guns N’ Roses during the band’s “No Trickery” residency. Just as the band was about to take the stage, I received one of these “sightings” email notices that Nicolas Cage was spotted earlier in the evening at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts at the Johnny Mathis concert.
Moments after I received that missive, Cage strode onstage to introduce Guns N’ Roses. It is a shame Mathis himself didn’t show up, too, for a duet with Axl Rose on “November Rain.”
Nonetheless, Cage’s Las Vegas doubleheader of Mathis and GNR may well trump two of my favorite Las Vegas doubleheaders: “Mamma Mia!” and GNR, and, from 2012, Barbra Streisand and GNR.
The GNR shows sure pulled in an impressive array of celebs. Carrot Top and Cage were in attendance at least twice. Vinnie Paul of Pantera saw the show-closer Saturday night. But the real topper, as it were, was an unannounced set by Andrew Dice Clay before that final performance.
Having just finished his set at neighboring Vinyl, Clay performed 15 minutes of his standup act at the Joint before GNR took the stage. The event reunited Clay, Cage and Rose, as Clay and Cage presented Rose with the Ronnie James Dio Lifetime Achievement Award at the Revolver Golden Gods Awards at Nokia Theater in Los Angeles in April. Those hard-rock awards are sponsored by Revolver magazine and website.
The night also marked the second time Clay had opened for GNR. He performed a set before the Guns N’ Roses/Metallica show at the Rose Bowl in 1992, a twin billing that drew more than 100,000 to the stadium. In a statement, Clay said, “To me, Axl and Guns N’ Roses represent rock ‘n’ roll in the truest sense of the word. And getting up onstage and surprising an audience is what Vegas is supposed to be about.”
Clay is sporting gray sideburns these days, purportedly for an upcoming film role. More will be revealed there, too.
• The performance by Billy Joel at MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday was his first Las Vegas concert in five years. What was obvious that night, and for several years, is that Joel would be a prime candidate for a residency on the Strip, similar to the lineup at the Colosseum in Caesars Palace or the run by Garth Brooks at Encore Theater. Joel did perform at Encore Theater during New Year’s Eve Weekend in 2012, and in January 2013 Wynn said he did try to lure Joel to a series of shows on the Strip.
“I’ve been begging him to work for me for a year and a half, maybe two years,” Wynn said at the time. “He finally did it over New Year’s, on Friday night, and I said, ‘If you come and do this, I’ll overpay you. See how you like it. See how it feels.’ ”
Wynn watched Joel’s sound check, where he said that he was “hovering” around the rock superstar. “He made a crack to me, ‘Steve, I’m not so crazy about the pop music scene at this stage of my life,'" Wynn said. Joel, of course, has not returned to Wynn/Encore, instead setting up for a run at Madison Square Garden. But as he showed at MGM Grand, Joel would be a huge hit on the Strip.
• On the topic of Wynn and contemporary music, Nick Hissom has moved to Los Angeles and has signed with Larry Rudolph’s Reign Deer Management company. Hissom is the son of Andrea Wynn (formerly Hissom) through her first marriage, to Robert Hissom.
Rudolph is the longtime manager of Britney Spears and one of the more powerful people in contemporary music. Hissom, who graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in history, is planning to channel his energy and ample talent into his recording career. He will work with multi-instrumentalist and studio maverick Dr. Luke, who has worked with Bon Jovi, Pink, Katy Perry, Avril Lavigne, Miley Cyrus, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna and Shakira, among other superstars (he also has served as the bandleader on “Saturday Night Live” since 1997).
Hissom’s most recent single, “If I Die Young,” was released in the summer of 2013. Expect him to be spending more time in town.
• A member of the crowd at George Strait’s final concert, dubbed “The Cowboy Rides Away” on Saturday night at AT&T Stadium in Dallas: MGM Grand President Scott Sibella. So were about 105,000 other Strait fans. The country superstar has appeared several times at MGM Grand Garden Arena on tour and at award shows.
• The Tenors of Rock, the band of British singers who swept through town last year, are scheduled to return to Las Vegas over the week of June 23. They are booked to play Vinyl on June 26. In November, the Tenors visited Frankie Moreno at the Stratosphere and the crew at “Raiding the Rock Vault” at LVH and played a showcase at Lounge at the Palms. That last show drew interest — and an appearance — from Priscilla Presley.
“Jersey Boys” cast member Deven May has been helping advance the career of this outfit, which blasts out classic rock in six-piece. As is the wont of so many national and international productions, they long for a home in Las Vegas.