From the mind of CeeLo Green comes Loberace -- Live in Vegas. Part 70s soul singer, part Elton John, part Liberace, Loberace is a unique stage persona that is all Las Vegas. If it sounds tripped out, it is, but Green makes it work in this entertaining show that features dancing girls, numerous costume changes and many hits, both from Green's career and from artists he admires.
The show opens with a wild James Bond opening sequence parody set to "Ladykiller," before settling in to the smooth soul of "Bright Lights Bigger City." Flanked by dancing girls, Green hits the stage in the first of many flamboyant outfits, this one being best described as gold lame hooded pajamas. Green uniquely captures the essence of Vegas in this opening number and has the crowd hooked.
The first of many cover songs follows in the form of INXS' "Need You Tonight." Green sings over a backing track that samples Michael Hutchence's original vocals. Green sings his vocals in a higher register than Hutchence, but his performance is strong nonetheless. Green sings Prince's "Hot Thang" to one dancer, who does her best to turn up the heat and he embellishes an otherwise faithful rendition of Rod Stewart's "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" with a few slowed down, heavier parts. For this song, the dancing girls appear on a golden staircase, providing visual accompaniment to the song.
As part of Green's ongoing tribute to the artists who influenced him, Bryan "Boy George" Watkins takes the stage for a medley of Boy George's biggest hits. It's all very surreal as Watkins performs the songs in front of a psychedelic background while he and the dancers are dressed in American flag outfits. If it were virtually any other show, this might seem out of place, but somehow it fits here, even if it doesn't make much sense. Green seems to underscore this point with "Nothing's Shocking Anymore," a song that speaks to how desensitized we have become to everything.
A "Freak Medley" follows, featuring "Closet Freak," "Le Freak (Freak Out)" and "Super Freak." Veronika "V" Bozeman takes the vocals for "Le Freak" while Green handles those for "Super Freak," sticking close to the arrangements in both cases while making the lyrics to "Super Freak" a bit racier. Green is in his element singing this music and clearly relishes the chance to do so. Less successful is his version of "Don't Cha." Written by Green and made famous by the Pussycat Dolls, they sell the song a whole lot more convincingly than he ever could.
Green reunites his old group, Goodie Mob, with the group taking the stage in robes making them look like high priests of futuristic R&B. Their medley includes a fun take on "Planet Rock" and a rocking version of The Jackson's "Can You Feel It?" Green saves his biggest hits for last, with strong versions of Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" and an up-tempo rendition of the Motown-influenced "Forget You" that lets the fans sing the more explicit lyrics of the original album version.
An animatronic band, direct from Showbiz Pizza, takes the stage for "Forget You." This is the only time a "band" is actually on stage with Green, making the rest of the show seem, at times, like CeeLo karaoke. During the bigger production numbers, it's not always that noticeable, but when the production is minimal, such as with "Hot Thang," it becomes pretty glaring. Green's charisma helps to carry the show, but a live band would have helped the proceedings tremendously.
The disc is presented in 1080i High Definition Widescreen 16:9 (pillar-boxed 4:3). Note: nothing seemed to be in 4:3 when viewing, but that is what the packaging states. The Blu-ray listed both the main and bonus features as 16:9 while playing. Audio options include DTS HD Master Audio 48/24 and LPCM stereo. Both the sound and picture are strong throughout. An interview with Green is included as a bonus feature.
Green does his best in Loberace -- Live in Vegas to pay homage not only to the artists that he loves, but also to the spectacle that is Vegas. With elaborate stage sets, dancing girls, flamboyant costumes and hit songs, both his and otherwise, Green has crafted a unique, fun show. Adding a live band would enable Green to take his show to the next level, but that should not deter his fans from checking out this disc.