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Pop Music Reviews : Wayne Newton Serves Some Vegas Velveeta

When “Also Sprach Zarathustra” blares forth at the start of a performance, and it isn’t a screening of “2001: A Space Odyssey,” what you have is a sure harbinger of bad things to come. Wayne Newton’s show Saturday at the Celebrity Theatre in Anaheim started with a tinny rendition of Richard Strauss’ portentous music. Sure enough, over the ensuing two hours-plus, Newton built up a daunting monolith of blandness. And the shtick with which the Las Vegas-based singer insistently beat a sellout house over the head was deadlier than the bludgeon employed by the murderous ape in the opening sequence of Kubrick’s film.

But Newton’s predominantly middle-aged-to-elderly audience had come to adore him. Before he had finished his second number, women in the crowd had bestowed six bouquets, seven kisses and one Mickey Mouse doll on their hero--with many more offerings to come.

Newton’s array of songs, including country classics and ‘50s rock ‘n’ roll hits, was potentially strong. But it was all so much fodder to be put through the blender and processed into Vegas Velveeta. Delete the sleepy mellowness from comic Bill Murray’s lounge singer sendup and you have an approximation of the Newton style.


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