You know these songs. You love these songs. Sing them loud and proud with the rockers who helped craft them.
It’s like Nirvana never even happened.
When rock got “serious” in the ’90s, the party moved across the street to hip-hop and R&B. It’s easy to forget how much fun rock n’ roll used to be. Rolling Stones. Heart. Aerosmith. Bon Jovi. Do I have your attention yet?
The fire hasn’t gone out completely. Rock used to be about sex, drugs, counterculture, wild parties, dancing, and the joys of being young and alive. You know, the same thing pop songs from every era have been about. Now “Raiding the Rock Vault“, a rollicking romp through three decades of “classic rock” (everything from the 60s to the 80s, in case you didn’t already feel old), is here to remind you at maximum volume.
Staged in a small auditorium in the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, this show is billed as “Real Rock” by “Real Rock Stars!” Will your $70 ticket get you Axl Rose singing the hits? Eddie Van Halen shredding “Eruption?” Sadly, no. How about Doug Aldritch, one of many guitarists who cycled through Whitesnake and Dio? Mark Boals, who sang for Dokken and Yngwie? Or Blas Elias, former drummer of Slaughter, a hair band unfortunate enough to drop their second record the same year that “Nevermind” came out?
These are not household names, but they had high-level careers in a calling to which many are called but few are chosen – the calling of the AquaNet sex god in spandex. Some of them are honest-to-goodness Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame inductees. Leather pants and long hair are no longer a flattering look for many of them as wrinkles etch and hair thins.
None of that matters as they rip through instantly recognizable classics by Fleetwood Mac, Queen, Journey, and more, leading the enraptured crowd in ecstatic sing-alongs. The players are consummate showmen and women, veterans of a day when a guitar was as much a stage prop as a musical instrument. If the decline of rock n’ roll has taught these veterans anything, it is to make it less about ego and more about the crowd and their good time.
In between musical numbers, actors perform funny skits spoofing the dunderheaded excesses of latter-day rock stars, as they cluelessly sit for interviews and let their passions run away with them. Also, it wouldn’t be a Vegas show without scantily-clad go-go girls, so young hotties are on hand to dance in bikinis for no good reason, besides your enjoyment.
The obvious comparison is “Rock of Ages,” but in this revue the music is front and center, rather than a ham-handed attempt to string a plot together from rock lyrics. There’s a laser light show, but no pyro. That’s probably a good thing in a theater this small.
It’s hard to imagine a crowd having a better time, even a Vegas crowd. No aggro mosh pits in sight, this is music for dancing, pumping your fist, making out with your sweetie, putting arms around the shoulders of friends and loved ones and singing the words you know so well at the top of your lungs. You have to be made of ice not to join the crowd belting “Dream on! Dream on! Dream until your dreams come true!” The writers of this music really believed that sentiment; they wanted their fans to believe it too. “Raiding the Rock Vault” is hell-bent on keeping that dream alive.
Verdict: If this music is your guilty pleasure, turn yourself in. You deserve to spend a night out at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, and experience Raiding the Rock Vault with some of the originators of that music, singing along to the jams, anthems, and power ballads that launched a billion hormones.