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Moreno draws Vegas entertainment crowd in Palms opener

Updated July 31, 2022 - 10:27 am

We have long been impressed with the slick architecture of Vegas ultra-clubs. The electronic “Oootah! Ootah!” music, party cannons and spectacular LED effects creates a river of revenue.

That money is spent effectively on aesthetic design, production technology and sparklers tucked in bottles of Dom.

An inventive mind can make something special of these places, beyond their EDM party tableau. This is the case at Kaos, the formerly beleaguered nightclub happily hijacked by Frankie Moreno. The unflagging Vegas showman opened the first headlining residency at the club Friday night, and it was a happening.

Moreno and his backing band blazed through a set that largely leaned on Moreno originals. The frontman drew cheers for songs you might not have heard of, but his omnipresent FM Army know by heart. “Biggest Fan,” “The Biggest Cat In Town (a sentimental favorite),” and “Diva” rocked the room.

Moreno did slip in an Elvis medley near the top, and the cover of “Eleanor Rigby” he recorded with violin virtuoso Joshua Bell near the end.

But this was a show starring a Las Vegas headliner, playing music he has composed, in a place built for the likes of Cardi B, Skrillex and Marshmello. Moreno has already beat the odds at the casino now owned by the San Manuel Tribe. He’s back Aug. 19-20, and Sept. 23-24, and already reviewing openings beginning in January. Moreno says a two-weekend a month residency would be ideal.

The singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist has benefited from ample support, of course, and fortunate timing. He comes in with a history at Palms, where he performed his first ticketed shows more than a decade ago. The Kaos schedule was clear in the resort’s relaunch.

And, Vegas entertainers will likely be envious to know the hotel is paying Moreno to perform. He has stated he won’t lease a room. He’s not leasing this one.

Hotel GM Cynthia Kiser Murphey and entertainment exec Crystal Robinson-Wesley nabbed Moreno as the hotel’s headliner. Both were at the opening-night show (swept away by the spirit of the scene, Kiser Murphey bought something like 10 shots for Moreno to pass around to his entertainer friends in the crowd). Robinson-Welsey is a Kiser Murphey recruit from their days at MGM Resorts.

Robinson-Welsey is also a Moreno band alum. She sang backup for several years, in Vegas and on the road. Moreno asked her to sing again. The hotel official, who pretty much runs the show these days, belted out “Fever.” Great move. At the Palms, the temperature is rapidly rising.

In that house

Moreno’s band for the Kaos run is his brother Tony on bass; Mundo Keali’i on lead guitar, Don Meoli on drums; the horn section of Pete Bresciani (trumpet and also the occasional banjo), James D’Arrigo (sax) and Diego Morales (sax). Dre Young and Ashley Kellough are the dedicated backing singers. Moreno’s girlfriend, pro dancer Lacey Schwimmer, danced atop the piano to “Diva.”

Also, a high measure of Vegas’ entertainment community turned out. Moreno is reticent to list his dignitaries from the stage, because inevitably someone is left out (and we can related, for lists in this column). But! We’ll go for it anyway.

Entertainers in the room for Moreno’s opener included Stephanie Sanchez (also on the Palms’ entertainment team); Clint Holmes; Earl Turner; Chris Phillips of Zowie Bowie; Vincent John of Bronx Wanderers (appearing solo Sunday night at Notoriety Live); crooners extraordinaire Jonathan Karrant and Chadwick Johnson; Bryan Hopkins of Elvis Monroe; top comic Geechy Guy; The Space founder Mark Shunock and his wife, Cheryl Daro; jazz great Michelle Johnson; Skye Dee Miles (who hosted the cracking private post-party at the 55th-floor Ghostbar); rock vocalist Paul Shortino; rock-guitar star Christian Brady; The Funk Jam at Sand Dollar Lounge founder Anthony James; pop-opera singer Giada Valenti; Vegas singer-songwriter Shawn Eiferman, and longtime Elvis tribute artist Cole (just Cole) from “Million Dollar Quartet.”

Lovitz sidelined

An undisclosed illness has knocked veteran stand-up Jon Lovitz out of his entire headlining run at Laugh Factory at the Tropicana. Lovitz canceled his shows last week and over the weekend, and is out Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

Lovitz is a consistent near-sellout at the venue, as was the case for his postponed dates. Basil hasn’t booked Lovitz’s return, but is eyeballing the fall.

Gotta make this right

Santa Fe & The Fat City Horns’ cover at the 7:30 p.m. Monday performances at Copa Room at Bootlegger bistro is $30 (w/ one drink), $50 (VIP seating, w/ two drinks). We had listed their prices from their days at The Lounge at the Palms. That price is long gone, and so is The Lounge.

Cool Hang Alert

Column fave (and also Kats family fave) Rita Lim is back at Tuscany Suites’ Piazza lounge at 7 p.m. Sundays. Lim has impressive vocal range, and also great range in her set list. Country, R&B, rock, polka … She does it all. Well, not the polka. But Piazza is a wonderful hang, every night. Lim’s show is 7 p.m.-11 p.m. No cover.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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