Opening of Miranda Lambert’s “Velvet Rodeo” Residence on the Las Vegas Strip at Planet Hollywood Resort

Miranda Lambert’s Las Vegas is a pyro playground, filled with sparks in the air and sparks covering her dress, hat and boots.

But Lambert’s “Velvet Rodeo” is also covered in crisp musicality. The star wears ruffles on the sleeves of her dazzling blue jacket, but it’s largely a no-frills show. Lambert and his band are simply queuing up at the Zappos Theater. She spoke with her six-string acoustic, like she was winning over the crowd at a Nashville honky-tonk.

Who needs a night of choreography when you can play all the chords?

The packed crowd at Friday’s opener savored a generous complement of hits from Lambert during the 90-minute production. She has already spent more than two weeks perfecting the show filled with fan favorites. “Famous in a Small Town”, “Gunpowder & Lead”, “Tin Man” and “Little Red Wagon” were some of the personally charged numbers that got the crowd going.

“Drunk,” his duet with Elle King (minus King, in this show), had the crowd swaying and swaying. Of course, many felt the feel in the song title, seemingly heightening the “Velvet” experience.

Lambert pulled off his latest release, “Palomino,” with “If I Were a Cowboy.” The album is the 38-year-old Lambert’s eighth solo album. Along the way, “Velvet Rodeo” brought more pyrotechnics than I can remember at the Zappos Theater. You could feel the heat on your face during “Gunpowder & Lead,” among several fiery moments.

The warmth was also felt musically in “Little Red Wagon”, when Lambert called the lyrics, “I fucked up Oklahoma”, seen as a certain message of personal growth. As always, the crowd roared at that line.

Lights play an important role in Lambert’s show, ringing the stage, hitting the audience, then stepping back to totally bathe the star in white light. A very effective use of stage effects in a production that otherwise features a live music show like this.

There are some quibbles at the start of this residency. As warm as Lambert is as a live performer, we don’t see the star up close on the theater’s LED screens. His clips and even the giant brand MIRANDA and Velvet Rodeo are effective and powerful. But we don’t have close shots of this familiar and engaging superstar on these panels. So you feel a distance, a disconnection, in this show that could be easily corrected.

And I’m sure the crowd, especially its avid fans, would love more real-life narration from the scene as well. Chat with those rambunctious fans up front, maybe, to cross that chasm. Talk about her influences, how Vegas fits into a career where she’s already won. In fact, Lambert’s simple message, “Thank you for spending your hard-earned money to see me tonight,” hit the nail on the head. A typically direct message to his multitude of followers.

And those fans have already spoken. “Velvet Rodeo” would sell very well. The ambitious residency was brought home by veteran Live Nation executive Amanda Moore, whose company is in an exclusive booking partnership with Caesars Entertainment. Lambert casually mentioned that she would be at the Zappos Theater “for two years,” although the series only sold out through April. This would be a great reason to reload the pyro cannons.

We’ll call Lambert’s post just a tease, for now, merely hypothetical. But this superstar and his musicians are the real deal.

Newton joins the TRF gala

wayne newton joined Imagine Dragons, host Joel McHale and star guests like the legend of the hoop Shaquille O’Neal and celebrity chef Guy Fieri at the Friday night TRF gala at Resorts World Las Vegas. Newton was honorary chair of the event at an evening that raised a record $3.5 million for the group’s childhood cancer charity.

The leader of Imagine Dragons Dan Reynolds had mentioned to Newton that the band had just completed an extensive tour, including a performance at Allegiant Stadium, and was concerned about their vocal quality. This was before singing during the event’s closing acoustic set. But Newton reports, “He sounded just awesome.”

Mr. Las Vegas has known the group for several years and appeared on stage with them at the “Vegas Strong” benefit show at T-Mobile Arena in December 2017. Newton, 80, has recently been in high demand for public appearances. “It seems like everyone is coming out of COVID and picking up their lives, picking up where they left off.” This includes Vegas legends.

Cool Hang Alert

dead money, the three-piece soul/rock band from Las Vegas, turns up the heat at 10 p.m. Monday at the Sand Dollar Downtown at the Plaza. The trio claim, “Sassy vocals, bouncy beats and nothing to lose.” And speaking of sauce, try the pizza. No cover charge. For ages 21 and over.

John Katsilometes’ column airs daily in Section A. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at [email protected] Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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