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November 18, 2017

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Caesars Palace star Matt Goss, overcoming his mother’s death, is still sticking and moving


Leila Navidi

Matt Goss watches dancers rehearse before his sound check during rehearsal with Nevada Ballet Theatre at the Smith Center in Las Vegas on Wednesday, May 2, 2012.

NBT and Matt Goss at the Smith Center

Nevada Ballet Theatre dancers Alissa Dale and Grigori Arakelyan rehearse at the Smith Center in Las Vegas on Wednesday, May 2, 2012. Launch slideshow »

Matt and Luke Goss's 43rd Birthdays

Matt Goss and his twin brother Luke Goss celebrate their 43rd birthdays in The Gossy Room at Caesars Palace on Sept. 30, 2011. Launch slideshow »

Matt Goss can drop you with a left hook.

This is not a metaphor. The Gossinator is pretty handy with his mitts, a former amateur fighter who still slips on the leather and pounds the heavy bag to keep himself in tiptop condition.

He’s a fighter out of the ring, too, and Goss has been firing in combinations over the past several weeks to overcome the illness and death of his mother, Carol — his mum, as he refers to her in his regal British accent. She died after a long battle with cancer, on Memorial Day in Los Angeles, with Matt and his twin brother Luke at her side.

“It was tough, tough,” Goss said Sunday afternoon from New York, hours after his sold-out show at the Gossy Room in Caesars Palace and hours before he was to appear on ABC’s “Good Morning America. “She kept it from us, how bad she was. But she was dignified to the end.”

Carol’s death culminated a turbulent, sad and professionally triumphant month for Goss. He is enjoying a surge in ticket sales at the Gossy Room at Cleopatra’s Barge (this, reported by Caesars Palace execs), his numbers hitting a high mark over his four-year residency there.

Just this week, the hotel announced his latest contract extension, covering the rest of this year, which ends any speculation about plans to take apart or somehow remake that venue for another production.

The Goss show is a solid 90 minutes peppered with songs from his strong new album, “Life You Can Imagine,” which was three years in production with studio great Ron Fair at Capitol Records and released a few weeks ago.

During his “GMA” appearance, Goss performed “Strong,” from that album, dedicating the song to his mother. It was a sweeping performance, as strong as the song’s uplifting message. Goss fired through the number as if he’d had 11 hours of sleep instead of the four or so before appearing on national TV.

We tend to take Goss for granted over there at the Gossy Room. He has always made the most out of the moated enclave, which at its best is a hip little nightspot, its weird sight lines and pointless water effect notwithstanding. But Goss’s horn-infused lineup, his swaying backup singers and the ever-intoxicating Dirty Virgins make this one of the most uniquely entertaining productions in the city.

You never know whom you will run into at the Gossy Lounge, either. I met choreographer and director Kenny Ortega (“High School Musical” and the ill-fated Michael Jackson “This is It” concerts) at the Barge. The first time I ever had a conversation with Linda Thompson, Elvis’ girlfriend in the early 1970s and the sister of Presley’s security man Sam Thompson, was in the Gossy Dome.

On Friday night, it was Steve and Andrea Wynn, who turned up to check out Goss’s old school, Old Vegas-styled performance. It was Wynn’s first pass at Goss’s show.

“He has always been a gentleman to me, and he’s someone I have really admired,” said Goss, whose performance was his first since his mother’s death. “Few can actually say they contributed to building this city, but he is one who can. I have so much respect for him.”

Wynn has been spotted on the Strip lately, checking out Terry Fator’s show at the Mirage on May 26. Any time Wynn is in an audience for a Las Vegas production, buzz fills the scene that he is looking to bring an act into Encore Theater. But more likely, he was just out to have a night on the Strip with his wife. He picked a good show, too, as Goss seems even more focused than usual on delivering his best each night.

“I’m singing every note from my heart,” Goss says. “With me, what you see is what you get.” And like an album full of hits, those punches just keep on coming.

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