Monday, June 3, 2019 | 2 a.m.
Christina Aguilera is aiming high with her new residency show at Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood. Outer space high, actually. “The Xperience” begins with an astronaut gliding across the stage, leading the audience to discover a new world where everyone is allowed to be whoever they want to be in this moment, partying in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip with one of the most familiar and acclaimed voices of the past 20 years.
“I definitely come [to this show] with a message of encouraging positivity and unifying people no matter what background you come from. I really wanted to allow people a safe space to just be who they are, on so many different levels,” Aguilera said Sunday after a press junket at Zappos Theater, reflecting on her first two Vegas shows.
“Coming here, it can be a little intimidating, even coming from the airport and seeing all the billboards. There are so many shows and you’re like, wow, this is a spot to be reckoned with, and you get excited but also nervous. But as a performer I think the nerves are to be embraced. It’s part of the adrenaline rush, the drive that you need to put on a great show.”
Aguilera certainly seemed to be harnessing that Vegas energy at Saturday’s show, rolling through hits and personally significant songs for 96 minutes and commanding the stage with that powerful voice whether she was flanked by an army of dancers or serenading her audience as a solo force. A bumping version of her pop breakthrough “Genie In A Bottle” came early, followed by her first single, “Reflection,” and then the sizzling “Dirrty” ignited the audience as LED flames roared behind Aguilera, clad in a shimmering, skin-tight outfit with chaps. This was all in the first few minutes of the show.
Throughout “The Xperience,” a massive video wall blasts out some of the most striking imagery and virtual landscapes ever used during a residency show in this venue. Aguilera’s band performs from an elevated platform leaving plenty of space for her dancers’ elaborate choreography on the open space below. The scene changes according to the musical mood, whether she’s dipping into a retro hit like “Ain’t No Other Man,” disco scorcher “Lady Marmalade” or last year’s sexy hip-hop hit “Accelerate.”
“I wanted to give the audience something they haven’t seen in this venue,” she said. “So we’re using the ceiling in a way that hasn’t been used, there’s something to look up top for and something to look at onstage, and I did the curved screen. I’m inspired greatly by Cirque [du Soleil] shows, the fact that they tell a story and they give messages and there are so many different talents and genres across the board under one roof. That’s what I want to reflect.”
There’s a lot going on but of course the core of “The Xperience” is Aguilera’s unwavering vocal ability. She’s varied her musical genre and personal style quite a bit over the course of her career, but she’ll always be known as one of the preeminent singers of her generation, no matter what role she assumes in the legacy of Las Vegas headliners.
“If anything, it’s an honor, because you’re in awesome company and there are special people here who are just so successful and have endured amazing careers and are still killing it,” she said. “And to be surrounded by so many kickass females. Even this house has had these don’t-mess-with-us women and we know how to give a show, to put it on and release the magic. It’s my turn to bring what I have to offer to the table and it’s a beautiful feeling to know there’s so much great energy here.”
The show goes on at 9 p.m. on June 5, 7, 8, 13, 15 and 16 at Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood (3667 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 866-919-7472) and will return in September. More information can be found at caesars.com.