Unveiling their new residency at The Mirage recently, Boyz II Men found fans that aren’t as respectful of their idols as their idols are of them. Graciously, they handled it without complaint. I won’t. Is it really that much better to be shouted down by cheers and wild hoots than boos and derisive jeers? Not if you’re showmen (and the Boyz are) trying to put on a show.
Gentlemanly Boyz member Shawn Stockman humbly attempted to express the group’s appreciation for its new gig. Fans couldn’t care less: “WOO-HOO! OW! YAAAY! YOW!” And repeat—nearly every time Stockman or fellow soul masters Nathan Morris and Wayna Morris uttered words that didn’t have notes and a backbeat under them.
Adoration? Try impatience and selfishness. Fans want what they want (the music) when they want it (now). You’d think courtesy was a communicable disease. (As for overall cluelessness, it’s probably pointless to bitch about the woman in front of me texting on a cellphone that in a blackout could light up the MGM Grand.)
Grow up, people.
Performance-wise, the Boyz are every bit the R&B force they’ve always been. On a sleek stage similar to the one now hosting Human Nature at the Venetian, they provide the expected hits, including “On Bended Knee,” “End of the Road” and “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday.” Silky romanticism reaches its zenith on “I’ll Make Love To You,” when their ingrates—sorry, “fans”—most of them female, flock to the foot of the stage where they’re rewarded with roses.
Nodding to Motown, a medley performed in spiffy gold jackets—and including “My Girl,” “Just My Imagination” and “Tears of a Clown”—is pulled off with moves that could cause the Temptations to ask for dance tips. Nicely changing up the pace, an a cappella section that welcomes back ex-member Marc Nelson gives us goose bump-worthy takes on “In the Still of the Night” and “Yesterday.”
Modest tightening could alleviate several dead spots lingering between numbers when the Boyz disappear for costume changes. However, that’s asking for inordinate patience from fans with serious impulse-control issues.
Yes, it’s Vegas. Decorum isn’t a required nicety (a fact reinforced when a soused Strip-crawler banged out a drum solo on this critic’s car trunk en route to hotel parking). Performers do rev up crowds, whose energy is vital to their shows. Still, is requesting a modicum of courtesy at appropriate moments so unreasonable?
Producers should post a sign to patrons outside the showroom: “Kindly take a 90-minute asshole break. And enjoy the show.”
STRIP POSTSCRIPT: Happy birthday to the Colosseum at Caesars Palace, which opened March 25, 2003—featuring Celine Dion’s A New Day—and hosted the biggest headliners in the ensuing decade. Thus far at the Colosseum, no Christians have been sacrificed and no big, hairy, roaring, lip-smacking creatures have been spotted, unless you count Elton John and Bette Midler in costume.
What song should be played on the radio right after “I’ll Make Love To You”? Maybe Paul Anka’s “You’re Having My Baby”? Or something else? Email your choice to Steve.Bornfeld@VegasSeven.com or tell us in the comments.