April 21, 2002 at The New Frontier, Las Vegas
“Rock ‘N Roll Legends” was your basic 1-hour whirlwind tour of rock ‘n roll. The voices are LIVE, but the instruments are mimed. The cast varies, as some nights you get Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison and Stevie Nicks. In fact, one night “Jerry Lee” was a no-show and “Frank Sinatra” took his place. Frank Sinatra as a legend of rock ‘n roll? I think HE would disagree. Anyway, for tonights show we got Ritchie Valens, Bobby Darin, John Lennon & Paul McCartney and a ‘70s-era Elvis.
Ritchie Valens was played by none other than the Elvis impersonator extraordinaire, Justin Shandor. We had just seen him do Elvis yesterday and earlier this afternoon, so it was a little bit of a surprise. However, Justin did a convincing job of Ritchie Valens, considering there is little or no video footage of Ritchie live. He went more for the authentic 17-year old Ritchie; NOT the sex symbol Ritchie that Hollywood gave us in that awful movie! “Ritchie” did three songs: "C'mon Lets Go", "Donna" and "La Bamba". The tape backing tape screwed up on the first song, but Justin recovered quite nicely. Between songs he did a funny joke about flying, of course in reference the the fatal plane crash with Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper. Overall, Justin proved that he is not a one trick pony with Elvis impersonations as his Ritchie Valen’s impersonation was quite convincing.
Next up was Bobby Darin played by the “George Harrison” of Day Tripper, Ray Wood. I’ve gotta say, the highlight of the show was Wood’s version of Darin. I’ve seen the video clips and he had the moves AND the voice down. The Bobby Darin songs covered were "Splish Splash","Dream Lover", "Up the Lazy River" and of course, "Mack the Knife".
John Lennon and Paul McCartney followed, played by Shaun Friedrichs and Frank Mendonca III (respectively) of Day Tripper. Having seen Day Tripper the hour before, I knew I was in for a treat as these two have the personas of the two leading Beatles down! Sure, they played two songs I had just seen then play with Day Tripper ("Back in the USSR" & "Revolution"), but they also played "Let It Be" and "Hey Jude".
After doing these songs together, “Lennon” left the stage as “Paul” did a solo rendition of “Jet". It was a great and unexpected solo version and I applaud the choice. “John” then came back on stage and did a note-perfect solo rendition of “Imagine”.
Finally, “Elvis” took the stage played by Tim Welch. Welch portrayed the ‘70s-era Elvis with great aptitude. His interaction with the audience was about the best of the many Elvis impersonators we had seen. Plus, Welch’s cockiness perfectly captured the early Vegas Elvis. Elvis got the largest chunk of stage time playing: "C C-Rider", "Burning Love", "For the Good Times", "It's Over", "Blue Suede Shoes", "Treat Me Like a Fool", "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" and of course, "Viva Las Vegas". He picked one old lady in the audience and used her for his sexual innuendoes during his whole performance, at one time telling her, "my eyes are up here baby".
Overall, the “Rock ‘N Roll Legends” was well worth seeing as ALL performers gave above average performances with their impersonations!