Monday, March 24, 2008

I Saw Wayne Newton at Casino Rama on March 20, 2008

I saw Wayne Newton this past week. I made a vow to myself when Johnny Cash died that if I had the opportunity to see a legendary performer I would go and check them out before they die. Wayne Newton falls in that category for me and so I have a deep sense of satisfaction that I saw the man perform.

I called ahead to see if cameras, perchance, were allowed. They said no. I was going to take it anyway but if they would have confiscated my camera I would have been very sad. So instead I opted to take a sketch book and a pen and see what I could do. What happened was I got into the body of Wayne. These are all very fast gesture drawings, about 30 seconds each, some longer, maybe a minute or two if I was lucky. He kept repeating certain stances and I could feel them as I was drawing. The bend at the hip, the wide-legged stance, the bobbing head. Very interesting. I feel like I understand him as a performer better for having drawn him. I am going to make this a regular thing. Hopefully my sketches will improve as I go along but it's a very intriguing way to remember an event.

Here are his backup singers. What was strange is they sat through most of the show. Don't know why. I wonder if they were sitting so the focus would always be on Wayne? He did feature many members of his band and his singers as in this solo artist, only with the Wayne Newton family for two weeks he said. She had a very powerful voice. The other singer was with him for 5 years and the other said she'd been singing backup since she was 15.
She was definitely in her 40's at least.

There were several instruments lined up on stage for him to use when he got to that part of the show. An exquisite white guitar. It was so beautiful. I don't know much about instruments but I really wanted to play that guitar. There were two others, an electric and another acoustic, and two banjos. He also picked up an electric fiddle and played it, a genuine surprise to me that he could play a fiddle and equally impressive was his piano playing with large screen closeups of his giant pinky ring. He did an impression of Liberace which the 70+ majority crowd really appreciated. As did I.

He played a variety of music, coming onstage to the strains of 2001 A Space Odyssey, poignant give Arthur C Clarke had just died, then it changed to Viva Las Vegas and quickly into CC Rider. A rock'n'roll medley. Medleys. Who thinks the medley is a good thing? My husband and I were trying to guess pre-show what he'd be wearing. I thought something gold. He said black tux. He was right. It had a really really high cut on the vest. Seemed odd to me. And he was puffy up top, like he'd tip over. A funny shape and hard to sketch.

After the medley he sang Mack The Knife. I was thrilled! First an Elvis song, then that classic. Other songs were Johnny B. Good where the only audience member who was under 20 got up and danced in the aisle. Yes, that's one person dancing. Wayne loosened his bowtie, to the delightful squeal of the ladies cause he was ready to rock. He played Spanish Eyes during this segment on that fantastic white guitar.

Speaking of the audience, several older women rushed the stage throughout the show handing Wayne really old records for him to sign. He took them graciously and signed them after the show. One woman gave him flowers and throughout the show there were whoops and hollers and whistles whenever Wayne said he'd " see them in their room after the show" or "I hope you're next to my room here at the hotel", with many ladies offering to come up to his room and see him. Oh, the sexual tension was thick my friends. Thick. Bodes well for sex after 70 let me tell you.

He finished with his classic, Danke Shoen. I had strains of "Daddy Don't You Walk So Fast" going through my head for a week prior to the event. He never sang it. I'm kind of glad. I don't like that song much. He did perform The Impossible Dream, seated, lyrics in hand, voice failing, shouting more than singing, with the backup vocalists drowning him out. He said he was doing it as a favour to an audience member and it was unrehearsed. Hmmm. He read the notes for one stanza then was up on his feet belting is out as best he could. I think his story was a fib.

Other things of note: this guy His job was to sit stage left, in the dark and roll and unroll Wayne's mic cord. He doesn't use a headset and he doesn't use a cordless. The mic cord is real prop for a singer like him. He twirls the mic with it. He waves the cord around. Can't get that flair with a cordless. It also adds to that "old time performer" thing.

Here's a sketch done pre-show.There's a lady with a fancy shawl, part of the orchestra he had, and a camera. They were taping the event. He told us we might be caught on tape, though we were definitely too far back for that to happen to us. As an aside, the setup at Casino Rama is very good. I don't think there's a bad seat to be had there. The seats could be roomier, but the view is great. Speaking of the venue here's a compilation sketch of the ushers. Most of the ushers seemed to be over 65, with a minority in their 30's perhaps? They all wore sparkly vests, white shirts, black pants and bow ties. They had to seat many elderly people with canes and walkers and find room for wheelchairs. Lots of those wheelchair ladies had the sparkliest clothes. I remember one woman with a black satin cap full of white rhinestones. I fear that will be me if I am lucky enough to get that old and see an ancient Green Day perform.

Here's a concert review that pretty much echoes our own experience.

With one big exception. I loved Wayne's Mack the Knife. It was worth the whole trip to me. There he was, white spotlight, black tuxedo, black hair, pink face, sparkly giant diamond pinky ring and watch, fingers snappin', shoulders hunched, head a bobbin'.... PERFECT.


Tim Hunt said...

Great review. Too bad about the camera ban, but like the courtroom artist documentation. I almost feel like I was there

redcatdance said...

Ah Tim. Thanks for that. You would have loved it.

Agsniece said...

Wonderful account of Wayne's show. I've had the pleasure many times and you did an excellent job of capturing "Mr. Las Vegas".

redcatdance said...

Gee thanks agsniece! Love to hear that I caught something of Mr. Las Vegas in this post! I really had a great time... seems you have too!

David Simpson said...

My wife Annette is the back-up singer you refer to as being with Wayne Newton for two weeks. Thank you so much for blogging, and posting these creative, expressive drawings. Up until about three weeks ago, Annette was enjoying being a stay-at-home mom for several years, but when this opportunity presented itself, we made arrangements for her to take advantage of it. She loves it!
I sure wish you could've taken photos- I don't have any of her singing with Wayne, and haven't seen her perfom yet- but we really enjoy the drawings as the next best thing!
Again, thanks, and if you want to see the cutest kids in Henderson, Nevada (and a video of Annette singing in church recently), go to my blog!

redcatdance said...

Wow David, thank you so much for posting to my blog! Your wife has a FANTASTIC voice! I certainly understand arranging your life for this opportunity. I'm glad you enjoyed my drawings. They were very fun to do, and in many ways much more memorable and satisfying to me than taking snapshots. All the best to you and your wife and her travels... how exciting! ... my next trip will be over to your blog...

Paula said...

WOW I really enjoyed reading the review with the stetches attached. That was a clever way to present your article. I've been a Wayne Newton follower for over 30 years and I haven't seen a bad show yet. You commented on Waynes chest. He has a barrel chest plus he works out regularly. Could be the reason the man looks so "FINE" at the age of 65 huh? I'm looking forward to my next Wayne Newton show which I hope is soon! Until then I have to rely on reviews such as yours THANKS.

Anonymous said...

I would like to go to Las Vegas and play in a high roller casino but it’s an expensive thing to do, even more so when you live in the UK. I have to resort to playing a casino game online instead which lets me win the money but I miss out on the atmosphere, but still save £600 on the 14 hour flight. So until I win big all I’ll do is play online casino dreaming of Las Vegas.

Cindi said...

I love these amazing gesture sketches!! You have truly captured the essence of this event and I loved David Simpson's comments...

Secret Wayne Newton Fan Club Member