American Idol, smoky small bar, Broadway, Vegas....it doesn't matter for Taylor Hicks. Just like his song lyric, "Wherever I Lay My Hat, that's my home," whichever venue this gray haired talent finds himself in, he is completely at home. And he definitely makes his audience right at home with him. How does he do it? He travels continually, lives in many different places, and never forgets his Alabama roots. Yet, when you are in the crowd watching his show, you truly believe he is at home and in complete comfort on any stage, in any town.!
Well....for starters...the man is a gigantic energetic bubble of honest talent. He pulls no punches and makes no attempt to glitz up his Vegas shows. It is the real thing....pure energy, passion, soul, and a taste of many types of music but always reflecting his beginnings. Taylor Hicks is a song writer and incorporates some of his best work into the Paris show, formerly at Ballys. He also gives excellent voice to some favorites of other artists and cleverly inserts "tags" or pieces of these songs into his own, making them fit somehow, and then eases back into the original song. And all without anyone missing a beat.!
Another reason that audiences come away with such a smile after seeing a Taylor Hicks show, AND keep coming back for more, can be attributed to the musicians with which he chooses to surround himself. Brian Less, who is his keyboardist and musical director, tour manager, long time friend, and all round great guy, lends his incredible touch on keyboard and organ, and sings with Taylor on many songs. I can't ever imagine a show without his amazing presence. Throughout the years, Taylor has changed his band. But rest assured, he has a knack for including some of the best musicians around in each change. Sometimes he has an incredible sax player, sometimes no sax, but still the music is fabulous. His bass and lead guitarists compliment the show in ways that need to be seen live to appreciate. His drummers and/or percussionists are always right on the money as well.!
But the main factor in the success Taylor Hicks is experiencing during his extended Vegas run at Paris Hotel's Napoleon's Lounge, is his connection with the crowd. It is an intimate venue and every seat is a good view. Sure, it's the same songs with a few changes here and there, the same banter and stories, the same outfits...etc. But, hey...it's VEGAS! And this is a Vegas show in its full glory! And people love hearing the banter, the stories, the jokes, and most of all, THE MUSIC. So, they keep coming and coming. Included in this very entertaining and energizing evening is the story of how he got to Idol and fans, old and new, never tire of delighting in it. There are Taylor Hicks early songs, which he wrote that are outstanding in their unique and "real deal" feel. There are favorite covers, such as: "Taking It To The Streets," with classic Taylor moves and some new tricks as well. "Nineteen," is one which always brings a crowd to its feet and to tears, celebrating our troops, "Back To Louisiana," a personal favorite of mine, gets everyone moving with its bluesy sound and amazing harmonica solos. And "Maybe You Should," a beautiful ballad which Taylor Hicks proudly tells us is reserved for Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, and the rousing "Seven Mile Breakdown," help round out this rollicking, fun performance. The encore doesn't disappoint. Taylor belts out Viva Las Vegas in true Elvis/Taylor style.
For those who can afford the VIP ticket, you get a private Meet and Greet with Taylor Hicks. He signs pretty much anything and everything that isn't attached to your body, and takes pictures with you. If you choose the non VIP ticket, you can still get to meet him after the show at his merchandise table, which is attended to by a very gracious and knowledgeable lady. Every time I have been to his show, both at Paris and Ballys, this table was full of appreciative fans wanting to buy CDs, t shirts, coozies, and other various treasures to remind them of their great experience. I want to add here that the staff at Napoleon's Lounge is very courteous and helpful to all fans.!
All in all, this is without question the best live music show on the strip! If you find yourself on a plane ANYWHERE near Las Vegas, get yourself a ticket to the liveliest and most entertaining musical experience around the city! In closing, I just have one thing more to add:
TAYLOR HICKS! We loved you before Vegas, we love you during Vegas, and we will continue to love you on the next step of your amazing Journey
Photos of my latest evening at Napoleon's with this talented artist are available in two places:
For full size images, in our TMO Media member section: