Taylor Hicks at Bally’s Vegas: A Recipe for Success
by Louise Uznanski and Holley Dey
New recipes are often subject to intense scrutiny and customer review. Too bland, too spicy, too heavy, too light – hey, who changed the menu?! Bally’s did, no doubt about it. The Las Vegas venue made an unexpected addition to its entertainment menu this summer, injecting new ingredients and a fresh performance mix into the intimate and recently renovated Indigo room.
It proved a worthwhile gamble, a short-term commitment to southern soul food that returned rave reviews all summer long. Seems that Vegas likes sweet tea and country living, and this week Bally’s announced that headliner Taylor Hicks has agreed to a one year contract extension. The American Idol winner will return to The Indigo on October 17 and play select dates throughout 2013 in Las Vegas, as well as at other Caesars properties nationwide.
His summer show was decidedly different from the glitz and glamour commonly associated with the Vegas stereotype. There were no elaborate costumes, props or light shows to distract from the performance on stage. The focus was clearly on singer/songwriter Hicks, and on the veteran musicians who comprised his all star band. The music was rock, blues and country soul drawn from Taylor’s original albums and from a catalog of the bandleader’s favorite cover tunes.
The performances were intense and personal, delivered literally at the feet of the rapt audience in the front row. Hicks, who on television hook-up show “The Choice” insisted that nice toes are a dating must, could easily have inspected the nail polish of his most ardent fans. In such close quarters, the music was loud and passionate and real. The skill and effort of the musicians was on full display; neck muscles strained, sweat dripped and saliva flew as the energy built throughout the evening. There was a special delight in watching the camaraderie, the give and take among band members; a harmonica-guitar “duel” between Taylor and guitarist Jamie McLean was an audience favorite as each challenged the other to reproduce increasingly complex runs.
The American Idol winner delivered a winning show in Las Vegas this summer. His own power vocals and blistering harmonica play were a given, but the Bally’s residency confirmed that Taylor Hicks can build a set and a band that captivate an audience, returning that audience to their seats the following night, and with friends. Each of the musicians who played The Indigo this summer is individually talented. Together, the band offered a cohesive sound and unique product that impressed, including a stunning, soulful rendition of Elvis Presley’s “In the Ghetto” that was a consensus favorite.
Hicks has said that he expects to return the full band to Las Vegas for the extended run at Bally’s, and plans enhancements to the production at The Indigo. Hopefully, any minor tinkering will leave the musician core intact; this Taylor Hicks band is a recipe for success.
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Taylor Hicks Band at The Indigo, Bally’s Las Vegas