BWW Interview: The 'New' Mr. Las Vegas, Frankie Moreno Talks 'New Las Vegas' & Songwriting Career
By Kevin Pollack
August 15th, 2017
If you go to Las Vegas, there is one act you definitely need to catch and his name is Frankie Moreno.
As a child prodigy on the piano and a gifted multi-instrumentalist, Frankie was first introduced to American audiences at the age of ten with his debut on CBS's "Star Search". Since then, named "Las Vegas Headliner of the Year" three times, Frankie has been wowing audiences from coast to coast performing his own brand of piano-pounding Rock n' Roll.
Frankie's performance on ABC's "Dancing With The Stars" brought him into America's living rooms again performing his self-penned hit "Tangerine Honey". He has continued with more television appearances, magazine covers and sold-out concerts including Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center and The Hollywood Bowl. The recipient of an Emmy Nomination for his national TV special "Songs at Home", Frankie is now starring in his own nationwide special for PBS titled "Frankie Moreno In Concert".
Frankie toured the U.S. with Grammy nominated country artist Billy Currington and country superstars Sugarland. Frankie has also joined multi-platinum artists Air Supply for their world tour as musical director, and wrote their radio single "Dance with Me", reaching #7 on the Top 40 Billboard charts.
With the looks and moves of Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis, Moreno showcases his brilliant original songs, guitar playing, piano playing and harmonica playing. You can call him a renaissance man. Even though his residency at Golden Nugget may be over, you never know where Frankie may end up next!
Review Frankie Moreno Golden Nugget
By Alex Belfield
Let’s be clear – Frankie Moreno is a world class talent. He’s effortless, incredible & inspiring. His new show at Golden Nugget Las Vegas proves that he is the epitome of a Las Vegas showman, headliner and star. It showcases his every talent. He’s got the writing skills of Elton, the piano skills of Joel & the stage presence, charm and charisma of Elvis at his peak – collectively that good!
Frankie Moreno is what Vegas should still be. A person with breath-taking skill surrounded by other passionate, talented, dedicated musicians who make him look even better.
For the first 30 minutes Moreno only plays his own material. Risky. Yet, it feels so comfortable, familiar & perfect that from minute one you’re engrossed by the show.
Frankie is a remarkable pianist and musician – he’s sickeningly brilliant actually. You cannot fail to be impressed by his energy, skill and pure musicality. It’s bewildering why he is not a mega-star playing the Colloseum. For these reasons Frankie Moreno is our SHOWMAN OF THE YEAR & BEST NEW SHOW 2017. A 5*master-class in showmanship, talent and joyous live entertainment.
Book Frankie Moreno TICKETS HERE!
Enjoy an EXCLUSIVE interview & review + HD VIDEO via YouTube:
Frankie has not only class, theatrical genius but swagger. He embodies a feel of better times when we had ‘stars’ not ‘celebrities’.
He understands the power of the crowd control and simply will not allow them not to participate. He does his show with the audience, not at them.
There’s no surprise in any of this – he’s a pro, he’s been doing this all of his entire life. He’s written for global stars whilst constantly touring the US as a headliner himself mastering his craft.
Rarely do you watch someone who was born to do this type of show. To compare his talent you get into the ‘legend’ and ‘icon’ categories like Celine, Rod, Whitney, Michael & frankly – Frankie could hold his own next to any of the above.
Kudos to the entire band who support Frankie magnificently. Such collective passion & genuine joy is rarely seen on stage these days. This is old school ethics made cool and 100% relevant for 2017 audiences. There’s a lot of ‘banter’ with the audience which may not be to everyone’s taste. Moreno wants party, so if you’re not up for it, I suggest you stay away. A lifetimes dedication and discipline has resulted in a world class performance by Frankie Moreno at Golden Nugget Las Vegas Thursday’s & Saturday’s at 8pm. A star is re-born!
Review by Alex Belfield for Celebrity Radio 26th May 2017.
Singer Frankie Moreno to play Carnegie Hall
By Robin Leach
When multitalented Frankie Moreno takes to the stage twice weekly downtown at the Golden Nugget neither he nor his band knows exactly what they’re going to play. But that’s not even the most dangerous part of his performance. Frankie is determined to turn the experience of listening and watching him into an unexpected and unscripted party — and, yet, don’t expect tunes or songs you even know.
His energy and enthusiasm are so electrifying that audiences leave their seats and start to dance at the lip of the stage. Now, he’s going to take that very Vegas vibe to the serious and sedate Carnegie Hall in New York. Frankie’s even won first-ever permission to have rolling drink carts — a la Vegas casino — roam the aisles of the prestigious and revered building since its opening in 1891. So patrons will be able to enjoy Vegas-sized drinks of scotch and soda, vodka and tonic, rum and coke or dispatch one to Frankie as he plays the hall that has hosted to such conductors as Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff.
You’d never guess from his pounding of the piano keys; his Presley-like gyrations at the microphone; the strumming of his guitar strings; and the on-stage razz-a-ma-tazz with the sometime upside-down-back-to-front antics with a variety of musical instruments that Frankie is a fan of the classics and their composers.
At a recent Saturday night concert, I watched with uptight, out-of-town business guests who broke their own polite codes of conduct by discarding jackets and ties and joined the showroom party. They wondered why Frankie, who was more dynamic than Elvis, wasn’t the biggest star on earth. I talked with him about that quirkiness of fame, his upcoming trip to Carnegie Hall in New York with the Vegas vibe and a lot more in the dressing room that Rat Pack kingpin Frank Sinatra once used years ago at the Golden Nugget.
Q: Why do you only play originals at the beginning of a show? That’s a dangerous high-wire balancing act?
A: Very much, I think I do that just for that reason. People come (to) my show and they don’t know who I am. I guess it really comes down to this: Our whole show is me just trying to figure out the crowd. You have so many different kinds of people in the room. We have a pretty diverse crowd from little kids to 80-year-old women celebrating their birthdays. If I go in and I start playing familiar music because they don’t know me, I instantly get them on my side in a false way.
If I play “Mustang Sally,” they love “Mustang Sally.” OK, we’re all friends but it’s not anything real that they’re going to take away. It’s just for the moment. It’s just there and they like the song and they’re just, kind of playing along — like if we were in a bar or something. If everything is unfamiliar to them, I can start reading them more as people and seeing like — what they are liking about what I’m doing, what are they not liking about what I’m doing. And win them over with a real human aspect.
Look at it like this. If I just met you for the first time in a bar and we’re having a conversation, I want to get to know you. I don’t want you to tell me a story about somebody else and maybe — the risk is — maybe I don’t like you. … So, I kind of just built off that philosophy. Just let me create a real thing when I go on stage. I want to let you know who I am. I’ll weed out the ones who aren’t going to like me, which (are) going to be some. When I’ve got them on my side — and we’re friends — we can just start sharing all kinds of music at that point. So, that’s why I started doing a couple of cover favorites toward the end.
Q: Is it easier to perform as a party rather than as a show?
A: I don’t know what you call what we’re doing. It’s a party because it’s fun like that, but I’ve just never been one (who) has been seeking stardom. I’ve never sought after being a celebrity in that sense. I’ve always just wanted to be a really good musician. Even as a child, I idolized these stars — Elvis and Frank Sinatra and Jerry Lewis and all these guys. But, my goal is, I want to be better than them as a musician, not a bigger name. That was never a goal. When I walk on stage, I don’t want it to be: Hey, look at me; look what I can do. I like just more that kind of connection of let’s just go out there and we’ll share music together; we’ll share drinks together. So, I don’t even know if it’s so much a party. Zowie Bowie does it more of a party. What Clint Holmes does is more of a musical show. I’m not really sure what we’re doing, honestly.
I tried the show thing, with the Planet Hollywood experiment and it was a wonderful show. I love that show but every night, I had to go back and do the exact same thing and it just got stale. This to me — I feel like I can really go out and — you know, we changed the song — if you came back to the next show, it would be different. It’s a similar formula but not the same
Q: Do you really go out there as you’ve said — “there’s no such thing as a set list.” How does the band know where you’re going and what to play?
A: Signals. It’s kind of like baseball. Like the catcher gives the pitch: This is our fastball No. 1, our curve ball No. 2. I give them signals. …. I have a list of songs that I would like to play but, in no particular order or anything like that. If the crowd is all standing on their feet and excited and my next song on my list to play is a ballad; it’s not going to work. So, I just skip that.
Q: Now you’re making a leap from unbridled fun at the Golden Nugget to serious stuff at Carnegie Hall.
A: The Carnegie Hall concerts are going to be right at the start of the New Year. First up though, is The Kennedy Center on Sept. 15-16 of this year. I did a job with Joshua Bell several years ago. We just met and it was a fluke, he liked my stuff; I liked his stuff. We made a record and the single that we did together became No. 1. It changed my life because it was a classical song for an arrangement.
It didn’t have the impact of Taylor Swift getting a No. 1 single on the Pop Chart. This was the Classical charts. But, it really changed my pay scale — my everything. You know, we went from making $1,500 in a bar to making $15,000. Since then, I’ve done a lot of work with Joshua. We did a couple of records and he just introduced me to a whole world of classical people and that introduced me to the people who run the New York Philharmonic and the National Symphony Orchestra. As we met, we all got closer. Two years of cultivating these relationships turned into them asking me to come and play a special show celebrating Frank Sinatra. We won a couple of different symphony events: Carnegie Hall New York, Kennedy Center Washington, D.C., and Toronto.
They invited us to play the music of Frank Sinatra and, of course, I said, yes, of course. Now, I’m not that familiar with the music. I know the music. I know it all by heart but I never sang it — not my style. I learned all the songs and walking on stage at the Carnegie Hall for me was like a dream come true. We sold out Carnegie Hall, we sold out Kennedy Center, we sold out all these places and they’ve been wanting to do another show just for me. A few months back they called wanting me to do my show with the orchestra behind me; plus Kennedy Center is Sept. 15-16 and one in Baltimore the month after that. A whole lot of them follow — Carnegie Hall feels for me the ultimate achievement. For me, that’s the top of the game. It doesn’t translate so big to my Vegas world for some reason. A lot of people either don’t know about the power of Carnegie Hall or don’t care. It just doesn’t cross over. If I were to go and play the Colosseum at Caesars, oh my god, the whole town would be talking about that for sure. The last time we played there (at Carnegie Hall) we wound up on the front page of the New York Times while here it didn’t rate a blurb in a blog.
Q: So either in January or February, you’ll throw your party on the stage of Carnegie Hall with 85 musicians behind you. How do they know what you’re going to play as the party rocks on?
A: I have to do the charts for 85 musicians. I need to have the charts all done by next month and as you can imagine, that’s a pretty big task. So, I’ll probably have somebody help do a couple of them. But, I’ll try to do as many of them as I can because I want to do them.