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Raiding the Rock Vault: Now in Residency at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas

Las Vegas is known as a party destination, and one of the wildest places in town is the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. And why not? Rock and roll is the biggest on-going party. It seems only appropriate that Raiding the Rock Vault, the show that tells the story of classic rock, would find its home here.

After first opening at LVH (the Las Vegas Hilton), in the same showroom that Elvis Presley had his residency, the show moved to the Tropicana, where it found its home on the strip; finally, it landed where I’ve always felt that it belongs: the Hard Rock Hotel. Before entering the theater, one has to walk by showcases of instruments, and costumes, of many of rock’s icons, some of whom were represented in the show, either as performers, or with their music being played.

Raiding the Rock Vault has performances five nights a week in Vinyl, a nightclub-esque theater located inside of the Hard Rock Hotel; the intimate feel really does make the show more inviting; sitting in a theater rarely works well for a concert (how many rock concerts have you been to where people sit the whole time?); while there is plenty of reserved seating, the room really is throwback to the days of seeing Led Zeppelin, or The Sex Pistols, in a seedy club in SOHO, or CBGB’s in the Village.

But atmosphere can only do so much, it all comes down to the performance. And Raiding the Rock Vault has assembled a band that could very well be the greatest supergroup of all time. A steady roster of musicians ensures that there will always be enough members of the band to perform, should another artist need time off, or have other commitments.

Previously, the show featured a cast of actors, performing skits to help tell the story of rock, and provide historical context. The show has now been pared down to feature a band, and two female dancers, with a voiceover to help move things along, and provide introductions to each decade. This has shortened the show to 90 minutes, but it’s a long rocking night, that will leave you on your feet.

The band is not just another group of musicians playing covers, though. In the rotation are Howard Lesse, original guitarist for Heart. Paul Shortino, who toured and sang with Quiet Riot. Robin McAuley, who sang for Survivor. Mark Boals, who recorded five albums with guitar virtuoso Yngwie Malmsteen. Who would’ve thought that the man who belted Come on Feel the Noize would be equally as capable at singing The Doors, The Eagles, or Led Zeppelin?

The show features the best songs from each decade of the classic rock era, including The Who, Jimmi Hendrix, Deep Purple, Queen, Van Halen, Survivor, Bon Jovi, and many, many more…it wouldn’t be fair for me to spoil the set list, now would it?

It’s no wonder that the show has consistently been ranked #1 on Trip Advisor. The Hard Rock Hotel is a short jaunt off the Las Vegas Strip, but well worth it if you’re at all a fan of classic rock. Best of all, you might just get to meet the band after the show, as they usually make themselves available in the lobby.

In a town filled with glitz, slot machines, and residencies from French-Canadian divas, wouldn’t you rather slum it with rockers? I know I would.

Raiding the Rock Vault runs Saturday – Wednesday at Vinyl inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. The Raiding the Rock Vault band is (but not everyone, every night) Howard Leese, Robin Mcauley, Doug Aldrich, Paul Shortino, Jay Schellen, Andrew Freeman, Michael T. Ross, Hugh McDonald, Tracii Guns, Mark Boals, Blas Elias, Phil Soussan, Rowan Robertson, Cian Coey, Lily Arce, Christian Brady, Z Maddox, Dave Amato, Sarah Hester Ross, Jason Boleston, Corky Gainsford, and Brent Muscat.

For tickets and more information, please visit http://www.raidingtherockvault.com/ 

Words and photos by Josh Chaikin