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September 22, 2017

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Jubilee!’ and Moksha have roots in Las Vegas, if in different patches of soil


Sam Morris

Jubilee!” at Bally’s on Saturday, July 23, 2011.

Jubilee! 2011

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7/23/11: Moksha at House of Blues

Moksha performs at House of Blues at Mandalay Bay on July 23, 2011.

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Moksha, from the roof of Binion's

The clash of Las Vegas entertainment genres Saturday night was a jolt even for someone accustomed to all variety of live performances in this city.

Early in the evening, it was a trip back to “Jubilee!” at Bally’s. Thirty years old with a soul even more aged than that, the show celebrates the three-decade mark this weekend. This is the most steeped-in-tradition, full-scale Las Vegas production show remaining in the city.

“Jubilee!” is still the show that leaves day-glow feathers strewn about the stage, home to dozens of birdcage-inspired Bob Mackie costumes and a place where studded codpieces go to die. Not since the days of Siegfried & Roy have male dancers been so confidently adorned. The women show incredible balance and focus, striding about on quite-high heels while wearing oversize, bespectacled headgear, a lot of it looking like feathered baby cribs sprayed with a sequin-shooting garden hose.

Minutes after the curtain dropped on “Jubilee!’s” jaw-dropping Red Feathered Fan number and its $7,000 worth of costumes, it was off to the black-and-white themed CD release party at House of Blues for the rising Vegas rock band Moksha. There was scant time for your brain to hit reset to prep for the voluminous and visual experience that is a Moksha show.

The second and latest release from the powerhouse band is titled “Here to Go.” The performance was air tight, fueled by a three-man horn section, and entirely indicative of a band known for its obsessive attention to detail.

Master magician Jeff McBride turned up to dazzle the audience with sleight-of-hand illusions and his vaunted, rapid-fire, card-flinging acumen. McBride flicks playing cards at such a rate of speed it seems he could use an ace of spades as a combat weapon in the style of Jackie Chan, or even Hong Kong Phooey.

This was the sort of event for which HOB was built, ages ago in 1999, a professional and precision showcase for a local band playing to several hundred fanatical attendees. The reliably excitable George Lyons of KUNV 91.5-FM’s “The Lyons Den” radio show, who has been invaluable to Moksha for his aggressive promotion of the band, was typical of the ebullient audience members who turned out for the concert.

The common thread between these shows is their taut ties to Vegas. “Jubilee!” hearkens to “Lido de Paris” at Stardust and, more recently, “Folies Bergere” at Tropicana, two full-scale, showgirl-populated variety shows that finally bowed to more contemporary shows.

Moksha also was born in Vegas, if to different parents. Vocalist Sam Lemos, keyboardist Brian Triola and drummer Pat Gray all attended UNLV and are bound to a city that, as reflected again on this night, seems to know no bounds.

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