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Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend

Viva Las Vegas 2018 was bigger than ever and Vintage Rock was, of course, there. The only problem was actually taking it all in…

19 - 22 April 2018

The biggest rock’n’roll festival in the world just got bigger. Viva Las Vegas celebrated its 21st anniversary just as spring arrived in Nevada, and there were more people, more acts, and at least 20,000 more seats as the biggest names in rockabilly and jump blues converged on the Orleans Hotel complex in the sunshine. Add to that a massive display of classic cars, pin-up and dance contests, burlesque performances, and crowds dressed in authentic 50s outfits from all over the world, and you have the largest concentration of vintage rock fans ever seen, anywhere.

Headliners included Jerry Lee Lewis, Duane Eddy, The Stray Cats, Robert Gordon, and as many 50s trailblazers as were prepared to make the journey: plus, of course, the next generation of musicians and singers standing on the shoulders of these giants. It’s a credit to the vision of organiser Tom Ingram, a veteran of UK 50s festivals, who started the weekender with a handful of acts in Los Angeles before expanding to the vast open spaces of the US’s resort and gaming capital. In order to squeeze in the vast number of acts, live music tended to start at noon, running well into the early hours for those fit enough to keep up. To review only half the acts would require a team of six, so this overview must of necessity concentrate on highlights, so apologies to those acts we missed.

Reigning Cats & Legends

And highlights there were, notably Saturday’s daytime events in the open air car show area, where three now veteran acts proved in quick succession that they can still pull huge crowds and entertain them as well as they did 30 or 50 years ago. The main man for many, although he was previewed the previous day by almost every other Sun studio recording artist, was Jerry Lee Lewis. Resplendent in the type of bright red sparkling jacket seldom seen outside a circus, the Ferriday Fireball proved his keyboard skills remain as fast and accurate as they were 70 years ago.

Jerry Lee Lewis, in a bright red sparkling jacket, proved his keyboard skills remain as fast and accurate as they were 70 years ago
Duane Eddy looked cool dressed in black and with a dark hat
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