Human Nature takes the Sound of Young America to new places
By Matt Kelemen
Photograph by Christopher DeVargas
Human Nature had an incredible 2012. The vocal quartet undertook its first American tour since becoming a Las Vegas headlining act, enjoyed seeing its 2011 PBS special with Smokey Robinson rebroadcast throughout the year, increased its profile higher than ever before by appearing on Dancing With the Stars and made it home to Australia for the holidays to reunite with family and friends as well as appear with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. The biggest highlight came after the former Sydney schoolmates ended their residency at the Imperial Palace (now The Quad) in December and announced they were moving to the 743-seat Sands Showroom at The Venetian in January.
“We will miss a lot of that feeling at the Imperial Palace,” says Andrew Tierney, who hits the high notes for the group. “That theater is great. It has such a personality, with people in banquettes with the tabletops, but I think people will be more comfortable here at The Venetian seeing the show in traditional theater seating. We’re still going to get them up and dancing. There’s no chance that’s not going to happen!”
Tierney says at least 150 more people will now be able to catch him, younger brother Michael, Toby Allen and Phil Burton at their five-nights-per-week, 7 p.m. shows. The Venetian move marks a watershed moment achievement in the career of Human Nature—the last vocal act to survive boy-band era intact, staying in the spotlight long after it dimmed on platinum-selling peers. None of their fans have forgotten them in Australia, as press from the recent trip home indicates, and reportedly their Motown songs brought the house down during their Melbourne show. Now they are major entertainers at one of the world’s major hotel-casinos. Without a doubt, they are soul survivors.
And they’ve more than lived up to the expectations of their musical mentor Robinson, who cited their rendition of The Miracles’ 1965 hit “Ooo Baby Baby” as “one of the best I ever heard, if not the best,” in the PBS special Smokey Robinson Presents Human Nature: The Motown Show. Tierney says the stakes are higher now at The Venetian. “It’s a very different theater and a very different stage set. We’re going to put some new songs in, and new moments, which will be exciting as well. We’re going to use screens in back of the stage so we can use footage (from the group’s history). The production elements will come forward in leaps and bounds. The show is about the four of us singing and performing these songs, so that doesn’t change, but what is around us does.”
They also plan to branch out and “do other things” mid-show, when they relate the origins of Human Nature and how they found Motown, or perhaps perform the Tom Jones-style version of AC/DC’s “Sin City” from their 2010 album, Vegas: Songs From Sin City. If their interpretation of that hard-rocking classic is indicative of what the future holds for Human Nature, the group will be on the marquees of Las Vegas Boulevard for years to come.
The Venetian 7 p.m. Thurs.-Mon., $59.95-$99.95 VIP plus tax and fee. 702.414.9000