Las Vegas Sun

March 26, 2019

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Review: Diana Ross is an ‘Essential’ show at Venetian

Diana Ross


Diana Ross.

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Diana Ross performs during the 2004 Billboard Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena.

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Diana Ross.

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Diana Ross at The Colosseum in Caesars Palace on Nov. 12, 2010.

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Diana Ross and Frank Marino.

Dear Ms. Ross: I don’t know who had the better time at Wednesday night’s Venetian premiere of your second series of “The Essential Diana Ross: Some Memories Never Fade” concert — you or the audience. You have to come back for more. At least another run of this series, then twice a year for as long as you can.

It was a party that could’ve easily gone another 80 minutes. Your voice sounded fantastic with that fabulous “Phantom — the Las Vegas Spectacular” theater sound system. I’ve never seen you so relaxed, so happy and having such a great time onstage.

You let your fans reach out and touch you. You posed for selfies and even leaned over the edge of the stage to sign souvenirs. It’s beautiful to see you so at ease — set free, as it were. I remember a time when you didn’t even permit photos or close-up video shots.

You showed proof positive that you are a truly great superstar entertainer. I don’t know where you have that kind of energy at age 71. As you joked: You don’t even look 45! Your voice and appearance are fabulous and glamorous.

You’ve told confidantes that you enjoy playing the Venetian and that you’re having a really grand time doing these “Essential Diana Ross” shows. It truly looks like it as your warm enthusiasm overflows from the stage.

I know you’re considering returning, so please sign on for a third run and come back two more times next year and for as many years as you are able. Remember: Music and song keep you young! Las Vegas loves you!

Frank Marino, mistress of ceremonies with the female impersonators at his “Divas Las Vegas” show at Linq Hotel, is your biggest fan. He told me Wednesday night that he was overjoyed you touched his arm.

He has front-row seats for all eight of the remaining shows through Nov. 21. You have that kind of effect on people. One of your Las Vegas producers told me that he could watch you every night of the year.

Congratulations! It was a fantastic party night of joy and pure music from disco daze, and everybody agreed that you are in top form. As you’ve said, “You are in the music, and you love it.” It couldn’t have been better!

* * *

“The Essential Diana Ross” is a jukebox show of nonstop hits, 20 of them with hardly a breath in between. Ms. Ross has expanded her band for this run from seven to nine: two drummers, four-man brass section, two guitarists and pianist. Her backup trio of one female and two male singers kept the party going when she slipped offstage to change into yet another dazzling gown. The sax solo was as exciting as the Kansas City Royals winning the World Series.

Her show started with a thunderous, flashing videomontage played on the curtain screen of the stage, then suddenly she was there, a three-octave, light-lyric soprano singing angel from heaven, a mermaid-like vision in shimmering turquoise.

Her Motown hits were delivered pitch perfect. Diana’s first wardrobe change came at 30 minutes while her singers and horns had the spotlight. She’d changed into a black sequined gown under a floor-length, yellow, fur-like cloak.

Later came a gold lame gown that swept the floor after she took off a tiered wedding cake-type cloak that looks impossible to dry clean. Each colored gown came with a matching fan to keep her cool. Another gown covered her in silver sparkling sequins as she soared into “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”

The original diva loved seeing her audience dancing in the aisles, and she ordered the house lights on so she could see fans waving from their seats. I was nearly exhausted with her vim and vigor, then amazed at her smiles and laughter inviting fans to dance with her onstage and take selfies. Incredibly, she also passed her mic to the audience so that they could join in singing.

I’ve never seen her more relaxed and enjoying her own party show. When she returned for her farewell encore, she asked the audience what they wanted her to sing. It was “Reach Out and Touch Somebody’s Hand.”

As she gathered her onstage musicians and singers into a line holding one another’s shoulders, she encouraged the audience to link hands, too. It was a beautiful and emotional moment — and the appropriate highpoint.

“The original diva Ms. Diana Ross is the epitome of music icon, elegance and glamour, and she delivered tonight,” our esteemed Entertainment + Luxury Senior Editor Don Chareunsy told me (and not via press release).

* * *

So Ms. Ross: I know that there’s a Venetian/AEG invitation for you to return for a third time and thereafter. Just say yes! Our entertainment world is empty without you. “The Essential Diana Ross” continues at the Venetian on Friday, Saturday and Wednesday, then Nov. 13-14, 18 and 20-21.

Robin Leach of “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous” fame has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past 15 years giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at

Follow Las Vegas Sun Entertainment + Luxury Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at

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