Show Review: Danzig Was Almost Two Hours Late and It Still Kicked Ass


Growing up in Las Vegas, the “King” was everywhere. Elvis Presley tribute concerts are a big part of this city and I’ve attended more weddings where the happy couple were married by an Elvis impersonator than a priest. The King has always been the ghost that smiles down on the Las Vegas lights and reminds us that his presence, style, and showmanship are part of our town. Sure, you can argue that Frank Sinatra and the boys own that distinction, but The Rat Pack always seemed to say “we run this town,” while Elvis was the town recruiter telling everyone “it’s the place to be, exciting, and unpredictable every night.”

This past Friday, Misfits frontman and horror movie director Glenn Danzig decided to add to Las Vegas’ legacy of Elvis performances by bringing his much-maligned eye-roller of an album Danzig Sings Elvis to the stage. Knowing my own personal feelings on the album and what we ended up getting, I took time to familiarize myself with the songs he covered, with hopes that he’d deliver that out of tune rendition of “Fever” live.

On the night of the show, I was struck by how everything as far as the venue selection was perfect. Set at the old lounge theater at the Tropicana Hotel and Casino, you’re immediately hit with old school cool with red carpet stairs from the 70’s and the giant red curtain lining the stage. It’s also where major tribute acts in the town like MJ Live and Purple Reign: The Prince tribute show, perform nightly. The fact Danzig did his research and opted to not stage this at the House of Blues or somewhere equally cheesy solidified that he had a vision in mind for how that evening would go and he needed the right venue.

Show Review: Danzig Was Almost Two Hours Late and It Still Kicked Ass

As I entered the stadium in anticipation for a 9 p.m. start time and noticed the atmosphere was perfect for this experiment to work, I knew in the back of my mind there would always be a chance for some of the infamous aloof Danzig antics and the potential for it to be a shit-show. I was proven right about about a half an hour after things were supposed to start.

While the aesthetic was right, it was a little jarring to see the venue plastered with ‘SECURITY NOTICE: No Photos Or Videos Allowed’ on all the screens, though that’s nothing new if you know anything about Danzig. However, the sign stayed on screen as a man walks onstage at 9:30 who turned out to be the opening act. At first, I thought a drunk fan just walked onstage because the dude was barely able to walk and was visibly drunk, but he was actually a cellist and the opening act, Viva La Cello. He mumbled in the microphone and then performed a beautiful renditions of classic cover tunes while taking time out between songs to take shots with fans and asks for drinks.

The highlight was people randomly screaming Slayer at this cellist dude and him managing to play a quick riff before his 30-minute slot came to an end. Immediately, I thought “Danzig would be pissed if he saw this performance,” but I quickly learned that wasn’t the case, since we soon learned that Danzig missed his opening act because he was still on an airplane heading to Vegas. He was supposed to hit the stage at 9:30, but that was not gonna happen.

Here is a breakdown of the next 70 minutes of PA announcements to the crowd:

10 p.m. — “Danzig has not yet landed in Vegas. Make sure you are buying some drinks to get ready for ‘the Glenn Danzig!’” (The Glenn Danzig was the announcer’s words)

10:18 p.m. — “Report his airplane has landing in Vegas and we are waiting for him to deplane. Gives you more time to buy some drinks and get ready for ‘the Glenn Danzig.’”

10:30 p.m. — “Just a reminder that no photos or videos are allowed. If you are caught taking photos, you will be removed.”

10:38 p.m. — “Danzig is in the building! Make sure to go to bar and get some drinks!”

10:42 p.m. — “Another reminder about the no photos or videos.”

10:56 p.m. — Then yet another announcement all of a sudden “Ladies and Gentleman Glenn Danzig has entered the Building!” The crowd groans and a room at about 90 percent capacity starts emptying to about 70 percent.

11:10 p.m. — The red curtain opens and Danzig TAKES THE STAGE and opens with “One Night”

11:11 p.m. — A fan stands up with a phone in his hand, takes a photo, and Danzig charges and kicks the phone and the gentleman’s hand. Security escort him out and Danzig continues. The show is officially happening!

Almost two hours after he was supposed to hit the stage, all the potential circus nonsense that’s infamously tied to Glenn Danzig faded away. He sounded fantastic vocally, the band was tight, and the energy he exuded in his patent black leather jacket outfit is abundant. A red light background with his name in classic red Elvis light bulbs is the perfect stage set up. All is forgiven and all is forgotten, as the professional performer is winning us back so quickly.

As he rolls into the third song “Lonely Blue Boy,” all the misconceptions of his voice not being able to cater to The King is gone and the audience is his. All around me I hear the random voices saying things like, “he sounds great.”

Show Review: Danzig Was Almost Two Hours Late and It Still Kicked Ass

Eventually, Danzig tells the audience his being late “was not my fault” and you roll your eyes a little, knowing that he won’t take any responsibility for the 70 to 90 minute wait we all experienced, but we knew an apology wasn’t coming our way — it’s fucking Danzig! When he got to “Fever,” I was hoping for the off-key rendition from the album but I got the opposite. After he stopped the song due to the bass being out of tune and restarting, he sang it with a perfect tone and captured us all.

Danzig clearly loves Elvis and he was not going to let him down on stage, no matter the circumstances. As he continued on with the rest of the set, which included some other covers but primarily stuck to his Elvis album, he exceeded every version of the recorded offering in this live setting. “Always On My Mind” and “When It Rains It Pours” showcased the subtle genius of Elvis and his vocal momentum. A song that surprisingly left us all in awe was “Pocket Full of Rainbows,” as he captured the vulnerability of the original.

Despite some small distractions like a random woman walking across the stage while Danzig was performing and the fact that he seemed to repeatedly argue with someone offstage, those moments didn’t matter. By the time those things were happening, we were all in the palm of his hand, so we ignored the questionable things going around the venue.

Ending the show on an encore of “Mystery Train/Tiger Man,” he gave us a quick update that the Tropicana was kicking him off the stage and did not want him to go on. Because unapologetic Danzig is an easy look for him.

All in all, this was an event for us Las Vegas people. Thanks to all the antics involving drunk cellists, nearly two hour delays, and all the other stupidity that occurred prior to Danzig’s 75 minutes of stage time, one can easily look at this show and find a million faults to tear it down. I’m not that guy — I’m born and raised in Vegas. The schedule means nothing, its the show that matters and what Danzig did was prove that his Elvis tribute is a must-see. He will not be on the wrong side of side with any “what if’s” in regards to his tribute to one of the biggest influences in his career. let along a legendary icon.

Glenn Danzig is the new must-see Elvis tribute with the attitude and deep-cut mentality, so if he decides to ever do this again, ignore any negativity because it was and will always be special.

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