By Jacqueline Monahan
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The classic rock show Raiding the Rock Vault has a new home on the strip, after a nearly two-year run at the former LVH (now Westgate) Hotel. 

Always popular, the show debuted on November 7th, 2014 in the very crimson (curtain and seats) Tropicana Showroom, providing a stark contrast to the black leather, blue denim, metal-stud-and-crystal bling, skulls, tattoos and fringe that adorn the musical artists and their fans.

Rock music standards from the likes of Motley Crüe, Billy Idol, Ratt, and ZZ Top form an audio backdrop before the actual show starts.  The 2000-seat venue’s walls sport projected logos of the hotel’s dining establishments (Biscayne Steak, Seafood, and Wine, Bacio Italian Cuisine, Beach Café, and South Beach Food Court).

As the red curtain rises and the lights dim, a large silver time capsule is revealed onstage.  This is the rock vault, out of which the band members emerge.  Two video screens aid in their introduction, displaying name and group affiliation(s) while a robotic female voice announces their arrival, one by one.

Starting with drummer Jay Schellen (Badfinger, Asia), each artist takes his place on stage. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Howard Leese -Guitar (Heart) Doug Aldrich -Guitar (Whitesnake, Dio) Robin McAuley -Lead Vocals (Survivor, MSG) Paul Shortino -Lead Vocals (Rough Cutt, Quiet Riot) Andrew Freeman -Lead Vocals (Lynch Mob, The Offspring) Michael T. Ross -Keyboards (Lita Ford, Hardline) Hugh McDonald -Bass (Bon Jovi) and Carol-Lyn Liddle -Lead Vocals (Masters of Rock) combine their considerable talents to turn the vault into a time machine for 120 minutes of head-banging harmonies.

Andrew Freeman Rock Vault Trop 62302
Andrew Freeman
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn

Carol Lyn Liddle Rock Vault Trop 62458
Carol Lyn Liddle
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn

Doug Aldrich Rock Vault Trop 62574
Doug Aldrich
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn

Howard Leese Rock Vault Trop 62296
Howard Leese
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn

Hugh McDonald Rock Vault Trop 62126
Hugh McDonald
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn

Jay Schellen Rock Vault Trop 62396
Jay Schellen
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn

Michael T Ross Rock Vault Trop 62133
Michael T Ross
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn

Paul Shortino Rock Vault Trop 62563
Paul Shortino
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn

Robin McAuley Rock Vault Trop 62609
Robin McAuley
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn

The musical trip recreates classic mega-hits from super groups like The Rolling Stones, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, The Eagles, Queen, AC/DC, Deep Purple, Van Halen, U2, Journey, Heart, Free, Aerosmith, Foreigner, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Whitesnake, Pink Floyd, and Boston.  Even this list doesn’t cover it all.  Simultaneously, video screens transmit group/song facts and images from the 60’s to the 80’s.  

Opening with the Who’s 1965 hit, My Generation, Andrew Freeman’s high-energy vocals get the audience revved up, accompanied by Leese, McDonald and Aldrich’s familiar guitar riffs, full of power and nostalgia.

McAuley, Freeman, and Shortino bring the song, while Leese and Aldrich bring the strut.  All routinely approach the end of the stage to play to dancing fans.  It’s two-hours of (nearly) non-stop hits, songs so familiar that lyrics automatically spring to the tongue.  The beat dominates the showroom and translates into a sway or stomp on the part of the largely undulating audience.

Highlights include McAuley’s vocals on Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven (laser show, too) Deg Leppard’s Pour Some Sugar on Me, and Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger, Shortino’s vocals on Aerosmith’s Dream On, Bon Jovi’s Livin’ on a Prayer, and ZZ Top’s Sharp Dressed Man; Freeman’s vocals on Journey’s Separate Ways and, accompanied by Aldrich’s virtuoso guitar, Whitesnake’s Here I Go Again.  Leese’s contribution to the Eagles’ Hotel California features his stunning guitar solo, and he and Ross engage in musical warfare to close out Deep Purple’s fog machine laden Smoke on the Water.  Ross actually karate chops the keyboard a few times to answer Leese’s string-talk.

Carol-Lyn Liddle’s vocals on Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams (along with McAuley), Pat Benatar’s Heartbreaker, and Heart’s Alone injects a bit of estrogen-fueled lyrics to rival the mega-dose of testosterone-laced tunes dominating the stage.

Three mildly amusing skits (a weed sale gone wrong, a wild rock star interview, and an Old Roadie Village retirement home scenario) are interspersed throughout the show, and could easily be excised without harming it.  Their inclusion gives the musicians a much-needed break that sometimes includes costume changes.

Two dancers gyrate to the Rolling Stones’ Honky Tonk Woman, one of them returning in an American Flag bikini for Supertramp’s Breakfast in America.  Both don boxing gear for Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger and black spandex skirts for Robert Palmer’s Addicted to Love.

The show ends with a trilogy of anthems, beginning with Foreigner’s Juke Box Hero and continuing with AC/DC’s Highway to Hell before Van Halen’s Jump closes the show to an already standing crowd and ovation.  The dancers return along with Freeman’s young son toting a guitar almost as big as he is.

Named Reader’s Choice Best of Las Vegas 2014 by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Raiding the Rock Vault has consistently been ranked the No. 1 Performance in Las Vegas on TripAdvisor.

Told you it was a trip.