Friday, Dec. 8, 2017 | 2 a.m.
English crooner Matt Goss has always occupied a space all his own in Las Vegas, perhaps because of the spaces he occupies when he’s somewhere else.
Goss has sold more than five million records in his career. He reunited this past summer with the “boy band” pop group, Bros, that launched his career, performing at London’s O2 Arena to mark the band’s 30th anniversary. He’ll be back at the O2 for five nights before Christmas, and last fall performed a special birthday show at Wembley Arena. These massive venues might not make sense if you only know Goss from his intimate Las Vegas shows; he started here at the Palms in 2009 before a long and successful run at Caesars Palace, transforming Cleopatra’s Barge into the Gossy Room from 2010 to 2016. Just this past week, he began his new residency show at 1 Oak Nightclub inside the Mirage.
“I’m not a lounge singer, I’m somebody who truly enjoys the strange dichotomy of these two careers,” says Goss. “What I’ve realized is this classic approach to entertainment where you actually engage with the audience, see their eyes and shake their hands and feel their joy and love and pain, gives me so much as well. I’ve learned more in Las Vegas than at any arena or stadium.”
Here’s the rest of my conversation with Goss:
How are things with the new show so far? Unbelievable. It’s funny, I have to keep reminding myself it’s not the 2,000th show, it’s just the third show.
That sounds like a good thing. You’re already very comfortable. It’s a new property, a new show, and it’s amazing because it feels like an established show already. It’s really working, which is always nice when you conceptualize something and bring it to life and it actually works. We didn’t want to reinvent the wheel, because the [people at the] Mirage said they loved the show. But it’s new geography, so you find a new way to work the room. And it’s a nightclub but it feels like a showroom, but not a showroom where you’re stuck in one seat. You can hang out, move around and meet people.
What was it about the space that attracted you? The small things, like having bathrooms inside the venue, and the fact that 1 Oak has it’s own valet so you can just go straight in, and then if you choose to go into the casino and take advantage of all the things the Mirage has to offer, you can take your night to the next level. But everything is just so beautifully done. As a performer, I like being at a venue and property that understands the experience of my guests. I want the drinks, the seating, the experience to be premium, everything. And we worked it out so if you want to come in and then stay and continue your night at the club, you can do that without having to line up. Stay as my guest, keep the tab open, hang out and do your thing.
Were you looking for a new home in Vegas right after leaving Caesars, or were you exploring other opportunities? I learned so much at Caesars and all the people there are still very much my family. Leaving there after almost 7 years, there were literally tears. But I had done all I could do at Caesars. I had my solo show in London, but I wanted to get back [to Vegas]. In a scary way, I thought maybe that was it, that it was time for a different chapter, but in my heart I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to create something special and I think I’ve been given the chance with MGM, a company that truly loves and respects entertainment. They really consider entertainment an asset. If you are somebody like me who has to go from the arenas to the showrooms, you really have to check your ego at the door. The only thing that gets you through that is how much they respect entertainers.
What is it like to make that transition again and play this intimate venue? I’ll tell you this, my friend texted me after last night’s show. He met a lady who was there with her brother and mother, who has Alzheimer’s. I’ll read it to you: “They wanted something special for their mum and they got it. She lit up like a Christmas tree during some songs and cried remembering her late husband for others. It was overwhelming and awesome to see it. You picked up three more fans for life, brother.” How do you explain that? That’s more than music.
I care so deeply about my audience’s experience and I’m passionate about this side of my life, and I’m a proud Londoner but I’m also very proud of this country and of Las Vegas. The solidarity and civility and humility that’s been on display lately, even the day after [the October 1 shooting], there was just so much grace and strength in the way this city has behaved.
Besides the venue, what other differences will we see with this show? People that know the show will see the differences musically in the sophistication of the arrangements. The little hits of brass, the counter-melodies on strings, certain nuances with the rhythm section—these things are a real pain when you’re trying to arrange them. But the hard work on the front end allows us to really sit back in the arrangement during the show. And so the energy is different because the musicality is more intense.
And the running of the show is great. The staff is beautiful, everybody gets well taken care of, they’ve created some specialty drinks especially for our audience and put a lot of love into them. The most important thing to me is you are included in my room. You know, I’ve never once mentioned a dress code, but people just bring it to my show. I think if they know the entertainer is wearing a Tom Ford tuxedo, how can they possibly overdress? So bring it, bring a date, come by yourself, but you’re going to meet somebody in my room. That’s just the way it works, and I like that. I like that swagger.
Matt Goss returns to 1 Oak at the Mirage in January. For more information, visit mirage.com.