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Time still ticking at Flamingo Showroom

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Morris Day, asking the rhetorical question, “What time is it?”

The Time Reunion

Now I can say it: Jerome, you missed a loop in the back. It’s the one we usually miss when slipping the eel-skin (or whatever manner of skin that might be) belt through the back of the ox blood-colored pants that is a crucial component to the ox blood-colored suit. It’s the one not quite in the middle, but near the middle, on the right. Not a huge deal, but the loop is there for a reason, and it’s rather noticeable when you’re not wearing the oversized jacket.

I say this because, while Jerome always makes sure Morris Day is properly coiffed and assembled – the famous mirror always at the ready, even onstage – no one cares to make sure Jerome has always covered the details. So Jerome, next time out – check those loops.

And while on the topic of loopy (hey! good transition), Morris Day and The Time are just finishing a rollicking four-show set at the Flamingo Showroom. Their last show in what I hope is the first of many bookings at the Flamingo is Saturday night. This is the original lineup that pulled itself together and wowed the Grammys back in February, which was reportedly their first concert as a whole in 18 years. The famed band, thrust into glory in the epic film Purple Rain is Day, his sidekick-confidant-valet-sometimes bodyguard Jerome Benton, ace guitarist Jesse Johnson, bassist Terry Lewis (who deems himself the “head cheerleader” in the reunion effort), nosetackle-sized drummer Jellybean Johnson, and keyboard virtuosos Jimmy Jam and Monte Moir. The band, of course, owes much of its fame to Prince, who assembled the group as a sort of counter-project in the early ’80s. Jellybean, in fact, wore on his top hat a small, silver Artist Formerly Known as Prince pin (the familiar combination of the male and female symbols that graced the Rio when Prince headlined there). Jerome says he has “texted” Prince about showing up at the Flamingo during the Time’s run. Will it happen? “I texted,” Jerome said, laughing.

Jerome Benton, keeping the party moving at the Flamingo.

Flamingo President Don Marrandino, who watched the Time fire up the Grammy audience on TV, brought the Time in to fill some of the dark dates left open by the departure of Toni Braxton, who cut short her run at the showroom because of a heart condition (that condition notwithstanding, a fun game to play at the Flamingo is to try to find anyone on property who dealt with Toni Braxton who actually misses her). Say this for Marrandino: He never cowers from an intriguing booking. Over the past couple of years his showroom stable has included the Red Hat Society-inspired Hats, tireless afternoon illusionist Nathan Burton, and (upcoming) Donny & Marie. The Flamingo has one of richest entertainment histories of any Vegas resort – certainly those still standing – with artists ranging from Bobby Darin to Sly Stone taking the stage there. When I mentioned to Jellybean that George Wallace booked Sly Stone for a one-off show on April 1, 2007, the big drummer’s eyes got wide as he asked, “Did he show?” Yes! He showed.

So. The Time. No one parties like the Time, even today. Morris Day still can’t seem to decide if he’s nasty, or sexy. Sometimes he tilts toward the sexy, as in, “It’s time to get sexy, y’all!” But at that very moment, he switches to nasty: “We’re gonna get nasty with this one! Everyone get nasty!” Maybe he should put sexy/nasty to an audience vote each night, as to counter the confusion. But he still fits well into what he calls his “pimp suit,” a gold-lame jacket, black slacks and white shoes. Jerome, who serves no other musical purpose than to sing backup and hit the standup synthesized drums every so often, drives the show. He is as engaging a front man as you’ll find, and by the end of the night his suit – which he himself said looked like he’d “butchered an ox” -- was soaked. Fortunately (and here’s some local color), near the front of the stage sat the band’s dry cleaners, Tiffany Cleaners owners Dan and Judy Del Rossi, checking out the performance and, of course, tomorrow’s delivery.

Everybody, have you heard, 'bout a brand-new dance -- it's called The Bird?

It wouldn’t be fair or accurate to describe the Time show as a mere concert. It’s a fully interactive, audience-participation event for those who might be sexy, or nasty, or any fusion thereof. Jerome wades into the audience for the sexy-nasty women, to dance backup in a very long line stretching across the stage. They are all shapes and sizes, and when one particularly muscular woman – likely a bodybuilder, by the looks of those calves and biceps – strides onstage, Morris turns to his longtime deputy and says, “This one’s kind of scary, Jerome!” With little prodding from Day and Jerome, the women turn their backsides to the crowd and, on cue, shake such to wild response.

Day, his eyes ablaze when he finally sheds those dark shades near the end of the show, doesn’t do a lot of heavy lifting. He is the centerpiece, the Colonel Sanders of the act, but leaves for long stretches while his bandmates rock away. But the show closes with a crescendo, with the still-familiar “The Bird” and “Jungle Love.” You laugh when Day talks of the “brand-new dance, we call the Bird,” which is now more than 25 years old but, let’s face it, is right at home in this hotel. Let’s rename it The Flamingo, and of course make it sexy. Or, nasty.

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