I was fortunate to be part of an eclectic throng of Vegas entertainers, media, and fans who gathered at the Rush Lounge in the Golden Nugget Hotel the other night to celebrate the talents of longtime Las Vegas headliner Gordie Brown. This sort of party usually precedes a show’s opening, but tonight marked instead Gordie’s ongoing popularity. After drinks and photos in front of a step-and-repeat, the crowd headed to the Golden Nugget’s showroom for Gordie’s 1,740th show. That’s a lot of shows – nearly seven years’ worth.
What I have always liked about Gordie Brown’s performances is that he makes me feel as though he’s doing it all just for me. Tonight was no exception. Somehow, he made a large theater feel as though it was my living room, and that he was a friend who stopped by to share a few laughs. At the same time, his friendly persona and strong voice, backed up by his wonderful musicians, filled the showroom. For an hour-and-a-half, Gordie was a nonstop whirlwind of songs, impressions, and one-liners.
Although he is billed as an impressionist, Gordie isn’t a typical one. Most impressionists strive for – and are judged by – precise replication of their subjects’ faces, speech, and gestures. Gordie’s more like a jazz musician who creates a riff on a classic. What emerges is a totally original result that captures the essence of his subject infused with Gordie’s own talents and comedy. Gordie is especially good at rewriting song lyrics in unexpected, irreverent, and hilarious ways. (After suggesting, for example, that Barry Manilow may have had “some work done,” he burst forth with, “I can’t smile… for three weeks…”)
Who else did Gordie “pick on” in his show? Neil Diamond, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Willie Nelson, Sammy Davis Jr, Julio Iglesias, Forest Gump, Paul Simon, Tom Jones, the Bee Gees, Miley Cyrus, John Wayne, George Bush, Barack Obama, Sylvester Stallone, Donald Trump, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Christopher Walken, Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, Clint Eastwood, Robert DeNiro, Garth Brooks… and this is only a partial list. In addition, Gordie’s onstage for the whole show with nary a pause. He is not only a man of versatile talent, he is also a human Energizer bunny.
Gordie Brown performs five nights a week at the Golden Nugget Showroom at 7:30 pm. Most of the show is G-rated and suitable for teenagers on up. The best seats in the house cost $65, and general admission is $30.