If you could go see Olivia Newton John, Donny and Marie, or Matt Goss, which show you pick? A couple of throwbacks and an unknown (at least to me) makes for a peculiar choice, but that was the selection during my visit to Las Vegas last month.

Based on the booking agent’s recommendation, we took in Matt Goss at the Caesar’s Palace Gossy Room (in reality, Cleopatra’s Barge and not much converted—just big curtains draped between it and the Appian Way walkway). I was looking forward to it because I Googled this Goss fellow and saw that he’s a crooning Brit. I was hoping for the likes of a young Sinatra or Michael Bublé’s little cousin.

2015-05-23 22.13.37And it could have been that way, if Goss just sang. When he does—sing, that is—he’s not bad. But it’s difficult to tell how or what he’s doing most of the time because of the cacophony around him.

The band consists of a horn section, guitars, and a full drum set, which is a LOT to fit into the tiny room set with squished seating for about 150 people, and the number of solos each band member performs is staggering. The sound is turned up to fill an auditorium ten times the size; my ears literally hurt by the end of the show. The backup singers were hardly needed for what they were supposed to do, but they constantly and distractingly wiggled behind Goss in barely-butt-length glittery dresses, and they spent more time talking to each other and giggling than they ever did singing. Do they not know people can see them?

The lighting, at least on the night I was there, was abysmal; so dark most of the time that one could not see the singer’s face, spotlights trained on torsos left headless by poor control, and effects ruined by the lights being pointed in the wrong places. In a town like Vegas, it’s hard to believe one of its premiere properties cannot find better a lighting crew than whatever yahoo was running things that night.

And then there are the dancing girls. Mind you, people are practically sitting in each other’s laps in the tiny room converted to a theater, with foot-wide little tables to balance their drinks on, and into this setting prance four Vegas showgirl-wannabes for no explicable reason. They came out three of four times, in various skimpy outfits, and gyrated to the music (most of which wasn’t suited to anything remotely resembling showgirls). They weren’t in sync or doing any kind of interesting routine; it was like watching four pole-dancers set up in different corners of a strip club. At one point, a couple of these chicks got up on the tiny tables, bent over, and stuck their behinds in patrons’ faces—repeatedly! I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

Goss does not help his own cause either, showing up an hour late (he had in fact canceled the previous night’s show and never mentioned why), trying awkward audience rapport that seems forced, flirting rather embarrassingly with one the backup singers, and promoting the little bar tucked into the barge’s side where non-show-going patrons can catch part of the show for “free” while buying drinks. The word free is a sham; a GLASS of wine was $16 at the show; I can only imagine what the bar charges to let you listen in.

All of these antics and poor production values made the show come off as very amateurish, like someone attempting to simulate a glitzy Vegas concert in his garage. I sincerely hope that someone in Goss’s confidence lets him know that, if he truly hopes to be a respected singer, he might want to tone down a few aspects of the show. Better yet, just SING!

Next time, I’ll go with my gut and see how Olivia Newton John is holding up.