Vegas Underground stood in front of a huge screen as a cartoon designed to put us in the mood for a night of Rat Pack-style music appeared behind them. The screen is not always used to good effect and it can hard to work out the identity of the characters and what exactly they’re doing. Backed by a superb seven-piece band, Peter Grant, a charmer who cuts more of a Buble figure than a Sinatra, begins the show by letting loose with two upbeat songs, including ‘Let the Good Times Roll’ which provides another signal of what we should expect from the evening. he introduced the singer Rebecca Poole as ‘very hot’ (he did this more than once and I’m not sure of its relevance. Plus we do have eyes, you know) and acknowledging Jazz FM’s claim that she’s ‘the new Julie London’ (a more interesting point), Poole delivers some impressive renditions, including the Nancy Sinatra classic ‘Bang Bang’ and the jazz standard ‘Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t (My Baby)’. Poole then begins on a bouncy version of ‘Hit the Road, Jack’ which sees Grant come out from behind a piano to join in the fun.
At least, it should be fun. Yet there was something amiss with the show I saw. There were a few too many references to Grant not being well previously (his voice was fine) and some technical niggles and troubles with monitors (which I didn’t notice). However, this is Big Band music and to create this in such a space and with so little time to set up is impressive. Each night features special guest stars. Dean Martin’s daughter is set to appear and the night I attended i was The Stylophones, fronted by a feisty Hayley Sanderson - a charming cross between Amy Winehouse and Velma Dinkley. The 1960s image and marionette-style, beehived, yellow-faced backing dancers add a light hearted twist to the evening and their routines felt fresh and fun to watch, if at times distracting .
The evening drew to a close with both Grant and Poole performing solo original numbers, then reuniting for rhythm and blues standard ‘Route 66’. Special mention must also go to Danny McCormack, whose piano-tinkling is on another level. He had the crowd cheering him on throughout the night. This is a good show, featuring plenty of talent; it just missed the mark in creating the genuinely carefree antics, insouciance and humour we generally associate with the best of the Rat Pack.