Raiding the Rock Vault: Warp Five Rock n Roll @LVH

In Christine on The Scene by Christine McKellar

If a successful rock star’s stage life was measured in hours the math rocker Paynecould get interesting. Take John Payne, the producer of the increasingly popular “Raiding the Rock Vault” now playing at the LVH (Las Vegas Hotel). Not counting studio time to produce eight albums, travel time, set up and rehearsals, Payne toured the world with the popular band Asia for fourteen years. Based on a hypothetical formula that x =6 (nights a week); and y = 2 (hours a night), multiplied by 14 (years); the end result is 8,736 hours of entertaining fans.

And that was only with Asia. “This show is five nights a week,” said Payne in a recent interview after a near two-hour performance at the LVH. “It’s been a bit slow midweek, but I can see this being a six or seven night week. It’s been work, work, work, twenty hours a day for a year to get this going.” 

Written by Payne and Grammy Award-winning record producer David Kershenbaum, “Raiding the Rock Vault” presents a high-powered span of  five decades of revered chart-topping hits on the stage with some of rock’s  most respected and recognizable singers and musicians: keyboard RossHoward Leese [Guitar] (Heart, Bad Company), Tracii Guns [Guitar] (LA Guns, Guns n’ Roses), Robin McAuley [Lead Vocals] (MSG, Survivor), John Payne [Lead Vocals and Bass] (Asia), Paul Shortino [Vocals] (Rough Cutt, Quite Riot), Jay Schellen [Drums] (Hurricane, Asia), Andrew Freeman [Lead Vocals and Guitars] (Lynch Mob, The Offspring), and Michael T. Ross [Keyboards] (Lita Ford, Hardline, Angel).

“During a set we’re playing some of the best songs ever written,” said Payne. “You see every player on that stage giving one hundred percent. You’re looking at great musicians from super groups. I got to choose everybody. The best live performers and the best payers. I’m lucky enough I got to know them before and play on the circuit.”

Aided by a bit of theatrical interpretation in the guise of a lanky hippie transitioning from the pre-Viet Nam era to a slick Yuppie, the band pays homage to and keeps coming at you with classics from Tin Lizzie, Led Zeppelin, Bad Finger, the Stones, Pink Floyd, The Who, The Doors, Bon Jovi, Van Halen, Yes, Queen, the Eagles, Toto…and more. The vault itself is a time warp: it begins in the year 3012 and wends its way back to the late 1940’s when rock first got its label.

“We pay attention to detail. Like ‘Stairway to Heaven’. These are classic, classic songs you mustn’t mess with. This is the story of a lot of people’s life.  Baby boomers. First dates. Those things. The journey is the story of your life,” Payne explained. “I feel humble and glad I can do what I do. Rock doesn’t die because that genre is so detailed and so much a part of people’s psyche it will never go away.”

rocker andrewVocalist/guitarist Andrew Freeman (Lynch Mob, Offspring) pretty well summed up the appeal of “Raiding the Rock Vault.”

“It’s cool because it spans whole generations. My dad was here. He’s 69. He brought my son who is four. It’s got a huge demographic. It’s a great show. It’s really easy to do because it’s the greatest songs ever written. You kind of do your gig and enjoy the hell out of it.” Freeman commutes weekly from L.A. to Vegas for the show. “Hopefully, we’ll be here for a long time. Vegas is awesome. I love Vegas.”

Las Vegas and the LVH kind are in a sense a music vault in their own right. This is the city and that’s the hotel that headlined Streisand, Elvis, and Barry Manilow. The former Las Vegas Hilton was also the home of Star Trek: The Experience–the ultimate space warp. If you’re ready for warp five in rock n roll, “Raiding the Rock Vault” is the star ship to zoom on. – Christine McKellar

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