Stayin’ Alive

The Bee Gees had the talent and good fortune to become huge rock stars in a career before and after their famous “Disco Era” image. More often than not, their contributions to the musical landscape in many forms always seemed to be overshadowed and underestimated because of it. As a family of brothers they created a huge body of work, songs that have become timeless through the years because their music was that memorable and that good.
However, all of their fortune has been marred by tragedy. Younger brother Andy Gibb (who had a solo career and sang with his older brothers occasionally) died in 1988, Maurice Gibb died in 2003 and Robin Gibb passed away in 2012, leaving only Barry as the last Gibb standing.
Their tragic history only heightens what a tribute show can deliver. While some thumb their noses at these types of shows, it’s really the only way fans of the music will ever hear the music live again. And people still want to hear the music after all this time.
That is where the “Australian Bee Gees” come in. They actually started years ago when the Brothers Gibb were still in full stride, but now find themselves delivering music to ever increasing and appreciative audiences. They are all about reminding people of the huge contribution to the musical landscape the Gibb brothers are personally responsible for delivering.
The Australian Bee Gees tribute show goes one step further in not only recreating the music, but the look and the respect for this group of talented brothers. The Bee Gees wrote a lot of good music, despite the jokes at their expense during the disco era, and created a sound long before there was a name for it. And what music that is.
Some people tend to forget there was more to the Bee Gees than “Stayin’ Alive”— much, much more. Apart from the Beatles and Rolling Stones, no other group has come close to producing such a consistent quantity of music that has lasted more than 45 years. And with such variety—songs such as “The New York Mining Disaster,” “Massachusetts,” “How Deep is Your Love,” “Night Fever,” “Jive Talking,” “Lonely Days,” “I Started A Joke,” “Tragedy” and “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart.”
Those are just the songs they recorded. Bet you didn’t know they also wrote “How Do You Mend A Broken Heart” (Al Green, 1971); “Grease” (Frankie Valli, 1978); “If I Can’t Have You,” (Yvonne Elliman, 1978); “Guilty” (Barbra Streisand, 1980); “Heartbreaker” (Dionne Warwick, 1982); “Islands In The Stream” (Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers, 1983); “Chain Reaction” (Diana Ross, 1985); and “Immortality” (Celine Dion, 1997).
They are the only songwriters in history to have five songs in the Billboard Top 10 at the same time.
All this material to work with has created a demand for the Australian Bee Gees to the point they have a permanent home in the Excalibur Hotel Casino in Las Vegas plus a touring company. It is the original cast from the Vegas show performing at the Riverside Resort this trip. Band members are Michael Clift (Barry); Dave Scott (Robin); Wayne Hosking (Maurice); Tony Richards (bass guitar/producer); and Rick Powell (drums).
Not only are they spot on with their recreations of the singular Bee Gees stylings, but each is an accomplished instrumentalist with many years playing in other bands.
They have performed as the Australian Bee Gees Show for 26 years with over 4,000 performances in 40 countries. They have taken up a semi-permanent residence at the Excalibur in Las Vegas the last few years (and make forays to Laughlin and the Riverside Resort).
Ironically, when they first started out in show business, they weren’t Bee Gees fanatics at all. They were just fans of all kinds of music. But, like other tribute artists, they soon found out they could make a comfortable living concentrating on one artist or group and not go the cover band route.
So what did they do? They became an Eagles tribute, of course. Well, not all of them, but the nucleus of the Australian Bee Gees show did. They quickly surveyed the tribute scene and discovered there were plenty of Eagles, Beatles, Elvis, ABBA and the rest being “sent up” but almost nobody was doing the Bee Gees. This, and the draw of the Australian connection, saw them quickly forming a tribute band called, of course, Stayin’ Alive. That was 1996 and with but a few minor changes, they have been going strong ever since.
They have succeeded, in taking the show beyond the small club route, making it more theatrical so they could land gigs in bigger venues and with more frequency. Thus, they can take over a main casino showroom and deliver a full-bodied show that actually educates audiences just how prolific and creative the Bee Gees were.
A lot of people were introduced to the Bee Gees through both the film starring John Travolta and the album, Saturday Night Fever. So this time, the Australian Bee Gees bring a totally new show to Laughlin, with an emphasis on the disco era.
But there is no escaping the enormous body of work that the Gibb brothers created and this show includes as much of it as possible in the allotted amount of time. Seriously, they could fill a five-hour show with the Bee Gees’ tremendous amount of music and still have to decide which songs to leave out.
While some people turn up their noses to the term “disco,” it is also the only reason many people show up to their shows. But no matter what your view is, the show is designed with dancing to get people moving and having a good time. You might just find, you just can’t help yourself when your feet start moving. Then you have to admit to yourself, there just might be something to some of this disco stuff after all.


THE AUSTRALIAN BEE GEES

Don’s Celebrity Theatre within the Rivereside

Wednesday-Sunday, June 6-10 (8 p.m.)

See “Showtimes” for tickets