So you come to Vegas and see a poster advertising “The Australian Bee Gees Show” outside the Excalibur Hotel and Casino. What to make of that? Will they have kangaroo backup dancers? Fear not, it’s nothing so Nickelodeon at “The Australian Bee Gees Tribute Show.” This particular act formed in Australia and gained such acclaim that they landed a nightly residency at the Excalibur.
The Bee Gees were all English, but they did relocate to Australia to achieve their first chart success. Once they were “big in Australia,” their label relocated them back to the U.K. to begin marketing their act to the world at large. This was back in the mid-to-late ’60s. Although the public knows the Bee Gees best for their contribution to the marvel that was disco fever (and their contribution to the film “Saturday Night Fever“) the group actually formed as early as the late ’50s. The Australian Bee Gees Show has a deep roster of hits to pull from.
Nevertheless, this tribute show is a lean 75 minutes. If you’re a Bee Gees fanatic, you might find yourself wishing it was longer. On the other hand, you may be glad – the seating isn’t very comfortable, with small plastic chairs and table seating crammed close together in an intimate theater that could probably use a renovation. Make friends with your neighbor. It will be awkward otherwise. The ticket is relatively inexpensive, but the drinks are still Vegas prices.
These Aussies deliver the goods, however. Dead ringers for the brothers Barry, Maurice, and Robin Gibb, they hit the famous falsettos and three-part harmonies that make the Bee Gees instantly recognizable to fans and detractors alike. They change wardrobes throughout the show, from flowery 60s pastels, to staid respectable black blazers, to sparkly walking disco balls accompanied with the finger-pointing dance moves that John Travolta made famous. They indulge in hits “You Should Be Dancing,” “Jive Talkin’,” “How Deep Is Your Love,” and of course “Stayin’ Alive,” cracking wise in between songs and running classic concert footage on the cinema screen behind the band during costume changes.
This probably goes without saying, but you won’t like this family-friendly show if you’re not a Bee Gees fan. Something about the Bee Gees is universal – great songs transcend genre. In other ways, few acts are more polarizing without being political. That falsetto vocal is something you either love or hate. Depending on whom you ask, it’s 50/50 whether disco is essential pop culture or a stain on the history of the music industry. (If you ask pop singers and songwriters, the praise becomes much more widespread – like the Velvet Underground, the Bee Gees’ greatest legacy may be the mega-stars whom they influenced.)
At some point in the show, though, the audience is invited to step up and dance in the clear spaces beside the stage, and the real party begins. This is dance music, and a bumping beat beneath an infectious melody atones for many sins. The producers probably would have been better off doing away with the crowded, uncomfortable table seating, at least at the front of the house. Let’s not forget – we should be dancing. Those guys who look a lot like the Brothers Gibb said so.
Verdict: Putting a Bee Gees cover band on stage in a room that isn’t at least 70% dance floor probably bears reconsidering. In all other respects, “The Australian Bee Gees Tribute Show” at the Excalibur Hotel and Casino is one of the best tribute shows in Vegas. Make a night of it and find out How Deep Is Your Love.