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October 23, 2014

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Livin’ large at the Barge, Matt Goss sets sights on Caesars Palace

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Scott Harrison/Retna/www.harrisonphotos.com

Matt Goss celebrates the announcement of his new show at Caesars Palace with a performance in front of the resort on Jan. 28, 2010.

What's the saying? A rolling stone gathers no Goss?

I mean, moss. It gathers no moss.

Onetime and short-time Palms fixture Matt Goss was not only trumpeted as the newest headliner at Caesars Palace today, he was met with an entire horn section, a guitarist, drummer and my favorite instrument in Las Vegas, the seven-string bass. The widely disseminated information that Goss would perform at Cleopatra's Barge — to be Gossily renamed The Gossy Room at Cleopatra's Barge — was finally made public during a news conference just south of the famed Caesars Fountains, not far from where Evel Knievel went tea-over-teakettle in his 1967 daredevil leap over the Strip-side water attraction.

But don't expect Goss to tumble to the pavement in this show, officially and lengthily billed as, "Singing Sensation Matt Goss Live From Caesars Palace Produced By Robin Antin." Arriving on the scene in a black Ferrari, which I loaned to him this morning, Gossy took to the stage in a tux and looked quite comfortable in the shadow of the Caesars marquee, which will bear the name "Bette Midler" until next week. He and his nine-piece band performed a four-song set, or maybe it was five, as the medley's tunes kind of melted into each other. However many, his performance was as cool as the winter breeze blowing across the Strip.

As always, the Gossman was backed by the clad-in-corsets Dirty Virgins dance crew trained by Pussycat Dolls founder and Gosstastic manager Robin Antin (the same Robin Antin noted in the show's title). As I mentioned during my relentless Twitter updates, this was like the Abbey Road rooftop show, except that it was grounded.

Goss debuts this throwback, hep-cat production March 12 the Gossy Barge, which even at this moment is undergoing renovation to expand seating to a 165-seat capacity. It will be about 250 by spring when the refurbishing of the lounge is finished. Tickets are $40, all-inclusive (up from $25 per ticket at the Palms, which did tack on taxes and fees).

As Caesars Palace president Gary Selesner said, the hotel will make a marketing push to remind guests of the Cleopatra Barge's rich history. It opened in August 1970 and, because of the Egyptian-themed female stretching out from the hull of the fake watercraft, is one of the two most popular photo ops at Caesars. The statue of David, located on Appian Way toward the hotel's retail area, is the other.

"We consider it good luck to touch her," Selesner said, referring to the female statue suspended over the walkway outside Cleopatra's Barge. She kind of looks like a cross between King Tut and Frank Marino, and so many hotel visitors have reached up and touched her upper torso that it needs to be repainted in gold each month. Some also have tried to climb up the platform supporting the statue of David and grabbing him by his lucky spot, but they are usually drunk or, perhaps, Frank Marino.

Expect the Egyptian theme to be stripped off the lounge — Doesn't it suck to be a designer specializing in Egyptian themes anymore? Even the Luxor has trashing that idea — with a more throwback, art-deco spirit. The carpet's being torn out, and new lighting and sound systems installed.

We're in favor of any upgrade, as long as Goss keeps his jet-fuel version of "Hotel California" on the set list.

As implied earlier, Goss "never lets the grass grow under my feet," to use his own words about himself. He's not only embracing musical stylings of those who once performed at Caesars Palace, whether in the lounge or the since-demolished Circus Maximus showroom, but shares in their ambition. We talked of how Frank Sinatra, for one, performed in lounges and in front of stadium crowds.

"He did that his whole career," Goss said after his brief, sun-splashed stage show. "This show can play a lot bigger. I do understand what it's like to play in front of thousands of people, and I'd love to play The Colosseum on New Year's Eve, something like that."

Asked if his current production could play "larger," he said, "There's no doubt in my mind."

But for now, Goss is firmly entrenched as one of the city's top lounge performers. He'll do well. I can think of a lot of locals who would love to hang at The Gossy Room... far more than 175.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at twitter.com/JohnnyKats.

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