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Human Nature in top form, but why are we asking about Steve Irwin?

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Human Nature performs live at the Imperial Palace.
Photo: Scott Harrison/Retna/www.harrisonphotos.com

Uncle Dave paid Las Vegas an unexpected visit last night. At least, I didn’t expect it, until about 10 hours before he landed. It was one of these familial parachute drops that happens from time to time, and U.D. was here for a Merrill Lynch conference (not a Merrill Lynching, as it happily turns out). He had some time to maim, so I took him to see “Smokey Robinson Presents Human Nature and I’ll Spare You The Rest of the Title” at Imperial Palace.

Being a white guy from Idaho, Uncle Dave is a big Motown fan.

A few notes from the audience:

*In what has become an inevitability in public places across the city and, I expect, the country, a cell phone went off in the audience. The offending/offensive party, a guy wearing a remarkably tasteful, floral Tommy Bahama shirt and white shorts made the reasonable decision. He took the call.

Why? What is a conversation in this circumstance going to sound like?

“Hey Maury, it’s Lou … What’s that noise?”

“ ‘Just My Imagination.’ ”

“No, I can hear it. It’s a song!”

“That’s what I’m saying – ‘Just My Imagination.’ I’m at this Motown tribute show, four Australian guys singing Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye songs.”

“You’re in the show now?”

“Yeah!”

“Why the hell are you taking this call then?”

“Because I am an idiot! … Hello?”

*A guy up front interrupted the show by shouting at Human Nature’s Andrew Tierney, “Are you going to do a tribute to Steve Irwin?” Tierney paused, not expecting to be questioned about the late Crocodile Hunter during the middle of a Vegas production show. He managed, “Steve Irwin was a great man, and, um, we did pay tribute to him when Mike said ‘Crikey,’ earlier.” That was a reference to a mid-show video cutaway where band member Mike Tierney (he opens what is purported to be a backstage dressing-room door and sees a shark and yelps, “Crikey!” then explains that it is the band’s manager. But more pressing is, why is this guy asking about Steve Irwin during the show? Is this the time and place for that type of question? What is the thought process there? “I love ‘Please Mr. Postman,’ but I wonder, why has there been no tribute to Steve Irwin!? He was, after all, Australian.”

*The entire band was soaked by the end of the 90-minute performance, putting on as much energy as Richard Simmons’ exercise class in those old “Sweatin’ to the Oldies” videos. Toby Allen looks like he’s lost about 15 pounds, and his band mates all seem to be welterweights. Someone on the support staff should assume potato salad detail.

*Two months in, cocktail servers are still singing along to the show. “Reach Out, I’ll Be There” is a favorite.

*"Jersey Boys” music director Keith Thompson and cast member Rick Faugno were in the crowd, and we ran into them afterward at the valet. Uncle Dave, who saw “Jersey Boys” in New York, was duly impressed. It was a good night. Choreographed, even.

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