From Vegas...


By • May 1st, 2000 •

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Standing ovations are relatively frequent in Las Vegas but they usually come at the end of the show. Not so for the Righteous Brothers, playing at the Orleans Hotel and Casino. They received five – yes five – standing ovations throughout the performance. For audiences accustomed to excellent shows that is quite an accomplishment – and well deserved, too.

Consummate performers with four decades of experience, the Righteous Brothers still put forth a Herculean effort to please. Though now 60, both Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield put as much energy into the show as they have throughout their careers. Unlike other aging stars we have seen recently, they are keenly aware of the audience’s reaction and know exactly how to tweak them into a near frenzy. From ballads to rock and roll, they belt out song after song, each well known to the members of the hand-clapping crowd. They adroitly intersperse their songs with jokes and stories, most notably, a recent advance in sexual pharmaceuticals as a recurring theme, and they even call their assembled do-op quintet The Viagra Five.

The first major highlight was a tribute to Ray Charles. Featuring a medley including ‘Born to Lose’, ‘You Don’t Know Me’, and ‘I Can’t Stop Loving You’, the bravura Bill Medley brought the audience to their feet for standing ovation number one. Later Bobby Hatfield reciprocated with an ebullient rendition of ‘Unchained Melody’ which was rewarded with standing ovation number two. In fact, it was the resurrection of this song in the hit movie Ghost that led to a platinum single record in 1991.

The Righteous Brothers are exquisitely supported by an eight-piece band. Not to be outdone, Barry Rillera, the lead guitarist (who has also served as their road manager since the beginning) received standing ovation # three for his solo. In my experience that is almost unheard of.

Among their recent accolades is the fact that ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling’, a song written for them, has just surpassed the Beatles anthem ‘Yesterday’, as the most played song in the world. Some record if you’ll pardon the pun. They include many other favorites including ‘Earth Angel’, ‘In the Still of the Night’, ‘Let the Good Times Roll’, ‘Old Time Rock and Roll’, and an invigorated version of ‘Little Latin Lupe Lu’.

The Righteous Brothers are on the road six to seven months of the year. When in your area, I highly recommend you make the effort to hear them. When in Las Vegas and they are performing, check them out at the Orleans. How much did I like the show? As soon as it was over I went to a WOW music store and bought ‘Unchained Melody: The Best of the Righteous Brothers’ CD.

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