No city does entertainment like Las Vegas. We’ve always been over-the-top and sensational, which is why our city has always attracted the world’s best entertainers. But there have been so many entertainers in this town, that it’s easy to forget who’s been here and who’s been overlooked. So we at Las Vegas Magazine created a YouTube playlist that highlights some of Las Vegas’s greatest performers and performances, past and present.
Surprisingly, it’s hard to find quality video on YouTube of Manilow performing live in Las Vegas. It’s not like he isn’t one of the most popular performers to ever have a Vegas residency (He was inducted into Las Vegas Magazine’s Hall of Fame this year). Anyway, in much of this video, Manilow is looking directly at the camera, singing right to you. That’s also the exact effect he has when you see him in concert. He’s kind of like a musical Mona Lisa. “Is he looking at me?” you wonder. “He’s definitely looking at me.”
If you’ve never experienced the thoroughly enjoyable experience that is Blue Man Group, they condense what makes their show great in this NPR Tiny Desk Concert. They’re successful in being inquisitive, creative and just plain weird. At one point during this video, the Blue Men guide the crowd through a hilarious meditation. If you participate at home, you’ll likely end up with a smile on your face.
This collection of Carrot Top appearances on The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson shows why the Top has been on top of the Las Vegas entertainment world for the last 15 years. While props are the foundation of his comedy, Carrot Top is a genuinely funny person, so between his bits (some of which are dated but still hilarious) and his chatter with Craig Ferguson, you get a glimpse into the comedian from top to bottom. Also, look for the shoutout to the Las Vegas Magazine issue where we tamed his ’do.
“I’m Alive” may not be Dion’s most recognizable song, but the video shows an intimate interaction between her and the audience. While she appears calm and reserved, her presence is commanding. It’s the mark of a true performer. And when she thanks all the crew involved in making her show possible, as well as thanking the fans, it’s a subtle reminder that we collectively uplift one another.
Criss Angel will either blow your mind or creep you out. In this video, he’s successful at doing both. In what seemed like a pleasant day at the park, Angel had to stop by to tear two people apart and swap their limbs. He didn’t even bother to put them back together correctly. It’s possibly the most talked-about illusion he ever did on TV.
Elton John and Las Vegas were always a perfect fit. His larger-than-life personality matched the city’s glitz and glam, and his ability to reinvent himself measured up with Las Vegas’s ever-evolving physical and cultural landscape. Though he’ll likely always be remembered for his exuberance, this version of “Tiny Dancer” reminds us of Elton’s real talent—when the man sits down at the piano, people listen.
Elvis’s legend has grown so much bigger than the person that it’s easy to forget he was a regular guy. I mean, the guy loved peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Pretty simple. This video, however, offers the best of both worlds: You’ll see his legendary showmanship, along with his down-to-earth and playful personality. One highlight is when he scares the bejesus out of one of his backup singers.
Sinatra was nearing the end of his career in this video, but he still had some magic left in the tank. The guy was just an electric performer. He was capable of making the crowd feel as if he was their friend, sharing laughs and good times. This clip will make you feel sorry you weren’t there.
Liberace’s finale from this concert at the Hilton in 1980 is a montage of WTF moments. He goes from playing boogie-woogie to joking with the audience, which seems normal enough. Not so fast. A Mariachi band suddenly stomps across the stage while playing “El Son de la Negra,” then Liberace rolls out in a Rolls Royce, and then there’s a lassoing cowboy named Lorenzo Escamilla. All within a span of 10 minutes. But when you think about it, this video perfectly captures the essence of Liberace’s performances. They were excessive. They were gaudy. They were … perfect.
Penn & Teller are legendary Vegas magicians. Mat Franco is on the rise, looking to take the baton from his magical elder statesmen. This video puts them together, pranking Las Vegas tourists. It’s a perfect blend of Penn & Teller’s elaborate and creative showmanship, with Franco’s incredible sleight-of-hand skills.
This concert is too good not to share the whole thing. If you watch it all, it would be two hours well spent. And if you’re quarantining right now, you probably have time to spare. So just do it. From the start, the energy level is infectious and it never subsides. He doesn’t play “Danke Schoen” or “Daddy Don’t You Walk so Fast,” but he does play banjo, trumpet, piano, guitar and fiddle. And he’s sporting a sweet mustache. It’s quintessential Vegas viewing.