Daily Rituals: After 1,000 Shows in Vegas, Human Nature Reveals How They Prep for Each Night
Posted by Andrew C on Friday, June 27th, 2014
It seems like only yesterday that Human Nature left their native Australia to set forth on an exciting—but admittedly risky—journey. Starting out in the showroom in Las Vegas’s Imperial Palace, the quartet would bring its unique take on a distinctly American musical tradition to a whole new audience of… Americans! For all the group’s years of acclaim—and even with the huge support of the iconic Smokey Robinson—there was no guarantee that “The Motown Show” would connect with Vegas show-goers. More than 1,000 performances later, however, the verdict is in. Human Nature has conquered the New World.
“It’s crazy to think we’ve done more than a thousand shows in Las Vegas,” says Phil Burton. “We weren’t sure when we started whether we’d even make it through the first month, but here we are five years later! …I think the thing that has changed the most since show #1 is that we are much more confident about our place in Vegas. We aren’t worried about going home with our tails between our legs anymore, and that means we can now branch out a little and work on new ideas for the future.”
Back on April 12, Human Nature marked that landmark 1,000th Vegas show with a very special appearance by none other than the legendary Smokey himself, who joined the guys on stage at the Venetian’s Sands Showroom to sing a couple classics.
“Without a doubt, that was one of the biggest highlights,” recalls Toby Allen, “just being able to have Smokey join us on stage to perform with us again. It is a rare treat for us as much as it is for the audience. And with his surprise entry on stage in the middle of ‘The Tracks Of My Tears,’ the audience didn’t see it coming– and they erupted with enthusiasm. It was awesome.”
“It really is a true honor to sing with him,” Phil confirms.
Since that celebratory night, the Human Nature juggernaut has carried right on doing what it does, with dozens of shows setting them on course for the next inevitable landmark. But while their eyes are set on the future, hitting the 1K total did lead to some understandable bouts of nostalgia for the boys.
When asked to name a moment that most stands out from these past five years and that boatload of performances, Michael Tierney has a pretty quick answer.
“One of the special nights was definitely opening night at the Venetian,” he says. “We moved to that venue [in 2013] and it was pretty amazing. We started at the Imperial Palace a few years ago and it wasn’t the most glamorous of places. It was a pretty rundown casino there. The showroom was great. But to get to move to one of the best hotels on the Strip— it just felt like we’d really gone somewhere. It felt pretty great. Also, having Smokey and Berry Gordy in the audience—two of the pioneers–while we’re performing these songs… that was pretty amazing, as well.”
As great as highlights like that are, though, it’s probably more appropriate—since we’re talking about Human Nature’s longevity here—to dive a bit more into the day-to-day grind of being a resident Vegas show band. Singing with Smokey Robinson would be enough to motivate anybody, but what about those other 999 shows or so? What daily traditions, rituals, or superstitions have kept the lads plugging away at their best for so long without skipping a beat?
“My daily ritual usually involves something to keep me healthy and in shape,” Andrew Tierney says. “I workout in some way every day. Sometimes I’m more focused on a goal than others, but if I don’t do something active, I don’t feel like me. It helps that my wife is a gym junky, too, so we enjoy that part of our life together. I usually get up early, and with the show at night, our days are often free to enjoy some home time– catch up on TV or put off till tomorrow some handyman chores I don’t feel like doing today—I am a terrible handyman! I also feel cheated if I don’t make my daily trip to Whole Foods, even if it’s just for a fresh juice. We don’t eat out so a trip to Whole Foods feels like kind of a healthy cheat each day. With the show being a nightly event, it seems that the days are a good way to try and clear my head so when it comes to sound check and warming up for the performance, I can get excited about hitting the stage all over again.”
“Everyday is actually quite different for us depending on what we’re working on,” adds Michael, “whether it’s recording or planning shows or tours. I like to warm up my voice throughout the day, personally. But show nights at the Venetian always start with a sound check with our whole band at 6pm, then getting dressed and ready for a show at 7pm. It’s a pretty simple schedule to follow.”
“Yeah, I hate to sound boring,” says Phil Burton, “but there really isn’t much of a ritual for me leading up to a show. We do it so regularly that the previous performance basically serves as a rehearsal for the next night. The only thing I like to do before a show is have a shower– no big reason other than I just like to feel fresh going on stage. It’s not essential though. I can still perform without one! I probably just smell a bit [laughs].”
And there you have it. Eat your veggies. Warm up the pipes. And keep yourself clean. Three easy steps to put you on your way to 1,000 shows on the Vegas Strip.