Tenors of Rock reel in the classics
Were you born with rock chops—belting “Gimme Shelter” before the doc even slapped your little rocker’s rump? Or perhaps they were hatched in-utero, you warbling “In My Room” in the womb? Or maybe … it was even before that.
“‘Desperado’ by the Eagles is the song I was conceived to, my father told me,” says Gareth Richards. “He said it was the seven-minute version, not the four-minute version.” Big props to Pop for that—and for siring the founder of the Tenors of Rock, the five-man font of classic rock anthems.
“The earliest we go is The Beatles and the latest is Bon Jovi, so we skip through a wide range,” Richards says. “We’ve had shows with a 90-year-old woman sitting next to a guy with a long beard and leather jacket, and they both get up on their feet.”
Rocking the hit catalog, the big-voiced Brits—Richards and his brother, Dai, plus Jonathan Williams, Tommy Sherlock, and Jimmy Denning—boast a theatrical background (collectively, they’ve appeared in Les Miserables, Mamma Mia!, Wicked and Footloose) that bolsters their rock-out performances on songs made legendary by Led Zeppelin, Guns n’ Roses, the Rolling Stones and AC/DC, among others.
“The idea was to have a rock band with five different frontmen,” Richards says. “You can’t have five Axl Roses in a band, so it was important we all understood it was a collective group and everybody has their moments to be their own guy. It gives a different flavor as a group.”
Spicing those flavors are inventive adaptations on tunes: performing “Stairway to Heaven” on a staircase; harmonizing barbershop-style on “Sweet Child O’ Mine”; dovetailing “All Right Now” into “Hey Jude”; power-balladeering on “Bed of Roses” and “Carry On Wayward Son”; and adventurously tweaking “Bohemian Rhapsody,” with vivid backlighting upping the Queen classic’s drama quotient.
“The boy band genre has been so popular and I thought we could do the same using classic rock—but as a man band,” Richards says. “We’re not anywhere near as pretty as One Direction. We’ve been called Wrong Direction. We’ve been called the Spice Men. But The Beatles were essentially a boy band. You lift the framework and adapt it.”
Surrounding the boys is a hellzapoppin production brimming with video projections, creative lighting effects and staging, the singers often fanning out into the audience, enhanced by the sensual gyrations of Little Miss Nasty, the Sunset Strip-based troupe of female dancers.
“All the big rock shows are finding ways to get into and over the audience,” says RJ Durell, who directed and choreographed the show along with partner Nick Florez. Known as GoldenBoyz, they also guided Baz: Star Crossed Love. “Rihanna had a big bridge over the audience. Katy Perry had balloons throw her around. We’re looking to translate that trend in concert tours into this theater.”
Adds Florez: “Us living in Los Angeles, we were inspired by places like The Whiskey and The Viper Room, where it’s a rock ’n’ roll club. Weaving in Little Miss Nasty makes it reminiscent of ’80s rock videos and makes certain moments feel larger than life.”
In every way—as Richards and his dad can attest—this production was well-conceived.
Harrah’s, 8 p.m. Wed.-Sun., starting at $35 plus tax and fee. 702.777.2782