Generation KISS, LV/DC, and The Kings of Queen played The House of Blues at Mandalay Bay on Friday, August 4, 2023, with a support set from School of Rock All-Stars.
The House of Blues remains one of the top venues for rock and roll in Las Vegas. Having been putting on concert events of all genres in Mandalay Bay for over two decades now, it’s a fantastic place to catch a show, providing an intimate two-level environment with plenty of space to rock out. This night featured four fantastic tribute acts on stage, much to the delight of local rock fans wanting to experience some of the best songs of all time, paid tribute to by top-notch musicians.
On a side note before moving forward with this review, Mandalay Bay is one of many Las Vegas venues that now charges for parking; this has become frustratingly common in Sin City in recent years. However, if you regularly attend shows at Mandalay Bay or any MGM-owned venue, applying for and getting an MGM credit card gets you automatic Pearl membership status, which included free parking. Consider getting one if you attend regular shows at or near any MGM-owned property; you can save a few bucks on your night out this way.
Starting the concert was a short set from School of Rock All -Stars; this was not advertised in any of the materials I’d seen but was a pleasant surprise. Essentially, this was an all-star band of young students from local School of Rock music schools, performing covers of some of their favorite rock tunes, including songs originally by artists like Deftones and Soundgarden. In a day and age where so many youths (not to mention adults!) are content to sit at home and spend all day gaming or on their phones, seeing these youngsters pick up an instrument and take the stage was a breath of fresh air. While it’s clear these kids weren’t exactly entirely comfortable performing for an audience this large, they rocked the house with a spirted performance nonetheless. Different kids took the stage following each song, with some sticking around for more than one. These boys and girls have limitless potential, and were clearly young and hungry. Here’s wishing them the best of luck on their future performances and music careers!
The thing I hate most about concerts where multiple bands play is the long waits between bands for setup time, but I’m happy to say that this concert at The House of Blues actually had surprisingly fast setup times compared to some of the concerts I’ve attended around Vegas over the years, so a big shout-out to these bands and their crews for keeping things moving along in a timely fashion.
The second set of the night belonged to Generation KISS. This is the spin-off successor band to Sin City KISS; that name was retired following the passing of Las Vegas Gene Simmons Louis Reyes. SCK’s one constant member, Steve “ChippenPaul” Mitchell, continues to front the band in the guise of Paul Stanley, with an all-star lineup of fantastic Vegas musicians under the makeup of the other members. Bassist Mike Campion has the biggest shoes (or should I say demon boots?) to fill, taking on the role of Gene Simmons once filled by Reyes, but these guys do their job and then some, complete with authentic period-era costumes, and even some light theatrics. It was great to see these guys finally play a larger stage; so far I’d only seen them at Vamp’d. They took advantage of the added space and rocked the house, but this fan expected and got nothing less!
Due to the four-band structure of the night, each group understandably had limited set time. The Generation KISS boys made the most of the fairly small slot they were allotted, giving audiences plenty of KISS classics from the band’s “classic lineup” years, although they did throw in “Lick It Up” from the album of the same name (the first on which KISS didn’t wear makeup) for good measure, as well as “New York Groove” From Ace’s 1978 solo album. You can tell these guys have studied the real band’s moves over the years and are true fans, right down to performing the “Deuce Dance” at the end of that particular song, and even some blood capsules for our resident Gene Simmons performer. It was a great set, and I’d gladly watch a longer evening of nothing but Generation KISS on The House of Blues stage if given that option.
The third band of the evening was LV/DC; Las Vegas’ tribute to AC/DC featuring several fantastic Vegas musicians. Of course, the one man on stage who steals the show from start to finish is Keith Robert in the role of Angus Young; it was Robert who invited me to this event in the first place, and if you’ve ever seen this guy on stage, you’d agree that the amount of energy this guy has is completely and totally unrivaled. Believe me, you haven’t lived until you’ve seen this guy mimicking Angus Young mimicking Chucky Berry’s duck walk. He’s a skilled axeman, with even Dee Snider having relied upon his talents in the past.
The rest of the band continued to prove themselves up for the task at hand as well, bringing new life to AC/DC classics from both the Bon Scott and Brian Johnson eras. From the opening moments of “Let There Be Rock” in which Mr. Robert channeled the spirit of Mr. Young and never slowed down or held still to the latter moments with classics like “Highway to Hell,” this set from LV/DC was never boring. As with Generation KISS before them, the only weakness with this set was its brevity.
Closing the evening (I guess they could be considered the “Headliners” based on the fact that they played last and were the band most prominently featured in the advertising) was The Kings of Queen; the one non-local band of the evening. Queen is one of my favorite bands of all time; when it comes to frontmen, the late great Freddie Mercury knew how to rock a stage and command an audience like no one else before him. For reasons like that, it’s no surprise Queen is one of the most common bands to be represented in the form of tribute groups.
The Kings of Queen is a five-member band; while Queen was a four-man band, it’s not uncommon for Queen tributes to have an additional musician who can play keyboards in an effort to do justice to these songs that were recorded and put out by some of rock’s greatest musicians. Personally, I prefer this “extra man” approach to using backing tracks, so more power to these guys for taking that path.
The man portraying Freddie Mercury, Emo Alaeddin, takes the time to change costumes several times throughout the evening (including some… interesting ones), and looks the part of Mr. Mercury throughout several points in his illustrious rock career. He looks and sounds the part, and audiences couldn’t ask for anything more from a Freddie impersonator; he does the look and the sound of the man justice.
The musicianship of the members in The Kings of Queen speaks for itself, though I would argue that these guys are more of a “cover band” than a “tribute band.” Other musicians, while certainly talented and capable of doing justice to these songs, all look like they belong in different bands. The guitarist looked like he was going to audition for Steel Panther. The bassist looked like the long-lost third sibling of Jake and Elwood Blues. Again, I stress that these guys are musically talented and do justice to the musicians they’re paying tribute to, but a visit to the costume store might be in order.
Fortunately, when it comes to playing the music, these guys proved themselves no slouches and certainly handling the material well. For the most part this was a setlist of the hits; tunes like “You’re My Best Friend,” “Fat Bottomed Girls,” “We Are the Champions,” “Another One Bites the Dust,” “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” “Under Pressure” (with their drummer singing the David Bowie parts), and “Radio Ga Ga.” The band did somewhat reach into the vault for some of the minor hits like “Keep Yourself Alive,” “Bicycle Race,” and “Don’t Stop Me Now” as well, with each of these tunes getting the musical treatment they deserved. For me, the absolute best part of this set was its opening moments, with the band doing the “fast” version of “We Will Rock You” the real band always started their concerts with; moments like this shows the band truly appreciates the music they’re paying homage to. The singers of the previous bands even came back to the stage for a few epic moments about midway through the set! While I would’ve liked to hear more of the deep cuts, there was once again the issue with brevity since this night had to sandwich four bands together. I’d certainly rock out with them again if given the opportunity.
This was a truly epic night of rock and roll at The House of Blues, giving a packed house (apparently over 1,400 people attended) the rock show of a lifetime with fantastic tributes and covers of the best kind. If you have the opportunity to see any or all of these bands perform and you’re a fan of the material, you shouldn’t be disappointed.
All photos other than event advert by the author.