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London calls his icons together for a tribute to pop & roll greats

“Why sound like me when I can sound like everyone else,” mused Greg London during a recent performance of “ICONS” at the Riviera Hotel and Casino.

Sounds like a performer with a serious identity disorder, but in the case of London it’s not about suffering from multiple personalities even though he hears voices in his head. Rather, the award-winning entertainer has simply leveraged a state of mind that enables him to effectively channel over thirty pop and rock & roll voice impersonations resulting in an entertainingly high-energy, one-hour tribute to music icons.

London’s vocal impressions move across the stage faster than a ring of fire, yet give the requisite visual and auditory stimuli that enable the pop & roll icon he’s tributing to appear at once to mind. Take his Johnny Cash redux for example: audience members catch the visual of London after he dons a Cash-style black frock as auditory queues pick-up the deep baritone imploring, “I keep a close watch on this heart of mine…because you’re mine, I walk the line.” A four-piece band provides the soulful live accompaniment.

Just don’t blink during his performance because you may be fooled into thinking it’s really Tony Bennett crooning “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” or Wolfman Jack howling “Midnight Special” and even Bruce Springsteen balladering “Born to Run.” London’s voice impressions are as lifelike as Madame Tussaud’s wax figures are to their iconic antecedent.

London makes a first-class go at a few of the more unique, difficult-to-emulate icon sounds: the gravelly, raspy voice of Rod Stewart in “Maggie May,” the vibrato voice of David Bowie in “Let’s Dance” or the hallmark nasal quality of Tina Turner in “Private Dancer.”

But it’s not just about the voice. London throws in gesticulations, full costume or small props to conjure up and accentuate additional associations to the real thing. For example: the somewhat spastic gyrations of Joe Cocker recalling his Woodstock performance in “A Little Help from My Friends” or the likes of Ozzy Osbourne and Elvis richly adorned in their branded fashions, whereas a simple shiny trumpet and white hanky are sufficient to greet the audience for “Hello Dolly.” And speaking of Louis Armstrong, London has been exercising his trumpet chops since he was a boy and regularly plays the guitar, piano, harmonica and percussion instruments on stage.

Three shapely dancers, who undertake numerous costume changes and whirl about in choreographed rhythms suited to the music genre, are delicious eye-candy, and the four-piece band provides great covers and backup vocals for London’s singing voice impersonations. The base player even provides some funny sidekick shtick. And when he’s not delivering on his vocal tour of music icons, London provides whimsical anecdotes about his career development – a gig at Capitol Records and a cruise ship jaunt – as he “finds his voice” along the way.

London is a gracious, sincere and engaging performer, who openly appreciates his audience and speaks tellingly about finding his dreams on the Las Vegas stage. Watching the energetic London perform, one is also quietly reminded of the voices and talent left behind by the great vocal impressionist Danny Gans who appeared on another stage not far from the Riviera…and who knows: perhaps someone will soon come along to find that his star and his voices will help him shine as bright.

 

By Jay Barber, Catalina Media Group

 

Filed under: Entertainment, Featured

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