The summer heat in Las Vegas is brutal. Crowds are large, sidewalks are packed, and deodorant runs out fast. Though the ring of “Water one dollar!” has all but vanished from the Strip, there are plenty of other sights and sounds left to assault the senses. Anyone who watches as billboards zip by on cars, or takes in the video marquee at Caesars Entertainment properties has undoubtedly seen ads for Tenors of Rock.
What started as a project between friends, jaded with the politics of professional theater, has launched into one of the hottest live music shows in Las Vegas. An appearance on the X Factor, and subsequent finish in the top 10, landed them with a series of shows around the world, before ending with a Las Vegas residency. Nearing 500 shows at the time of this writing, the boys still don’t have their gold plaque (what gives?), they bring audiences to their feet every night, and take the time to meet the audience after every show, for photos, autographs, and to sell merchandise (exit through the gift shop!). Of course, I had to pick up the CD they were selling.
I spoke with the Tenors before their show (a link to the interview will be here, when it’s available), and learned more about their process, careers, and how they came to end up in Las Vegas. As seasoned stage actors, appearing in such shows as Sister Act, and Les Misérables, it’s clear they have a love of music, and a love of performing. (Tom Jones, Michael Ball, and Ronnie James Dio are some of the strongest influences, for those wondering).
The five lads (Jonathan, Dan, Dai, Jimmy, and Tommy) share vocal duties on some of the greatest hits from classic rock. Even the most casual fans of music from the era will undoubtedly know all the songs played. The Tenors wanted to play music that, not only did they love, but that would have as broad of appeal to the audience as possible. In: Pinball Wizard, out: Rainbow in the Dark.
The performance uses a lot of spectacle; the wings of the stage open up, showing vintage posters of different bands, a catwalk extends across the stage, and a giant series of LCD panels illuminates things, giving pyrotechnic effects, without the danger. A live band is also used, which is always better than a recorded track. Clearly, the band is having as much fun up there as the singers, and become part of the performance as well as the other singers.
The band broke from the music at different intervals, to introduce the other members, different songs, and what the music means to them. A heartfelt story for The Eagle’s hit Desperado is best heard from them, you’ll just to hear it for yourself. And, of course, being the stage veterans that they are, things would not be complete without a little theater, and they performed their own arrangement of Music of the Night from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera – a nice contrast from the rock that was played, that showed how genuinely talented all of the Tenors are.
Though the Tenors are not the originators of the songs, it is not fair to dismiss Tenors of Rock as just another revue, or cover show – it is its own thing altogether. There’s no narrative that ties the show together, just five good friends up on stage, singing their favorite songs, from Queen, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, The Eagles, and many more, to an audience who is as equally enthused as they are.
Las Vegas is the entertainment capital of the world, and there is no shortage of entertainment; many hotels have three or four shows at a time, and the drunken antics of pedestrians can be wholly entertaining as well. For the music fan, short of paying a premium for Elton John or Rod Stewart, you’re not going to find a better value than Tenors of Rock at Harrah’s. The show is high energy from beginning to end, and the music is performed by artists who genuinely care about doing the classics justice, while injecting just the right amount of themselves into it. When Las Vegas calls, answer; it just might be the Tenors of Rock.
Words and Photos by Josh Chaikin