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October 23, 2018

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The Kats Report: Spinning out of the summer with Zowie Bowie, Air Supply and FSE


Denise Truscello/WireImage

Zowie Bowie’s Marley Taylor and Chris Phillips during “Las Vegas Celebrates the Music of Michael Jackson” at The Pearl in the Palms.

I recall, murkily, the opening of the Monte Carlo Brew Pub back in 1996, when dueling pianos were still a novelty and to brew your own ale was the thing to do. The Pub reopened this weekend as that -- The Pub -- home of Zowie Bowie and 88 beers on tap (including, at No. 13 on the menu but No. 1 in our hearts, Pabst Blue Ribbon). Z.B. opens its "Vintage Vegas” production in the Lance Burton Theater on Sunday. That’s the show they are really energized about. But with their thumping hip-hop act, they played to big crowds at The Pub on Friday and Saturday, their normal dates, and added a Sunday show for Labor Day weekend “to work out the kinks, test the sound system, stuff like that,” as Z.B.’s Chris Phillips said before taking the stage Sunday night. (In a funny-if-disconcerting moment, Phillips gave a call-out from the stage to moi, sitting by myself at the bar, by saying, “We’re in the presence of greatness! Put your hands together for Mike Weatherford of the Las Vegas Sun!” So I opened a tab in Mike’s name and bought the round a house, or vice versa).

Anyhow, The Pub has a cleaner look than previously, the result of yanking out all the copper piping and giant beer-brewing tanks that took up space in the old place. The keg storage area behind the bar near the entrance now gives off a warm glow any beer quaffer would find soothing. The menu is full of simple pub fare -- burgers, sandwiches, appetizers, a lot of uncomplicated stuff that goes well with beer. But the kitchen closes at 10 p.m. on nights Z.B. is in action, so plan accordingly (the food court is nearby, thankfully).

In its new marketing strategy, The Pub is pushing the concept of “Gus,” a whale who spews flames rather than water, a concept lit up by David & Goliath ad agency of Los Angeles. There is a whole fanciful tale about Gus, which I will not spoil here, but he is The Pub’s new logo. Poetically, Gus will be a hit with anyone into fantasy tales of fire and whales.

The nightspot will benefit from what hotel execs are hoping will be 24,000 patrons walking through the Monte Carlo each day from the nearby CityCenter (Aria opens in December). In the promenade leading from CityCenter into the Monte Carlo, new shops are coming online -- including such unlikely neighbors as Harley-Davidson USA apparel and Marshall Rousso women’s clothing and accessories -- but for now the draw is Zowie Bowie at high volume and an endless river of domestic and imported brews. Or, even, the hard stuff, as Phillips called from the stage, “There is nothing like a little Crown Royal sweat!” We’ll trust him on that, but it was another inspired shot from the stage.

More from the weekend

*If you ever have a chance to see Air Supply, take it. There was a time when I would never make that suggestion (like, anytime in the 1980s), but Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock have aged gracefully, as has their music. The band wrapped its most recent Vegas run Sunday at The Orleans Showroom (they are expected back next year during the Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day weekends).

As exaggeratedly noted previously, in 35 years, Air Supply has sold something like 23 billion albums. Yet they remain driven to create and perform, even beyond their commercial peak. These two put on a surprisingly fast-paced, high-energy show, and it helps that they are backed by Frankie Moreno’s band and draw from some beautiful new material from the soon-to-be-released “Free Love.” Russell’s “A Little Bit More,” a song inspired by a true story of two 19-year-old newlyweds whose brief marriage ended when the young husband was killed in combat overseas, is terrific. This assessment, from a person who spent three hours at Def Leppard/Poison/Cheap Trick the previous night and left The Orleans with Rush’s “Snakes And Arrows” blaring from the car stereo. I might even have to revoke my KISS Army membership.

*Best act I saw during the 44th Annual Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon was Wynonna with the Las Vegas Mass Choir singing Foreigner's “I Wanna Know What Love Is.”

*In the year of 2009, and as part of a major gaming corporation such as Boyd Gaming Group, which is accustomed to moving billions of dollars annually, The Orleans Showroom does not accept debit card purchases at the theater bar. So I now owe The Orleans Showroom for a couple of Diet Cokes.

*Palms VP of Entertainment Michael Greco is sporting a new beard. This I noticed at Goss-A-Palooza at The Gossy Room on a truly Gossy Friday night. I thought Greco's beard might be in tribute to his close friend Adam "DJ AM" Goldstein, but it isn't. He says it's just a beard, but he now looks a little like DJ AM.

*One final shot: “The Summer of ’69” finally ended at the Fremont Street Experience. It was one of the more cohesive events ever at FSE, which always lends itself to ’60s sensibilities, if you’re getting the drift. Helping close it all out was Three Dog Night.

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