Review: Elvis in Concert
By Jay Darcy
Whilst he passed decades ago, he will live on in our memories, and in our hearts, until the end of time. He’s an icon, a legend, frozen in time, immortalised, eternalised, and eternally loved and appreciated. He’s Elvis Presley, the King, and the King is back!
I love music. I particularly love old music. And I love going to concerts and gigs. I was lucky enough to see (and review) Cher on her farewell tour in October, and Shakespears Sister on their reunion (and farewell?) tour in November, and I’ve splashed some cash to see Diana Ross on hers in July.
But there are so many musicians who it is impossible for me to see. The likes of Dusty Springfield, Whitney Houston, and, of course, Elvis Presley. I saw the musical Dusty last year, the musical This is Elvis (featuring the incredible impersonator Steve Michaels) the year before, and I’ll be seeing the musical adaptation of The Bodyguard (starring Alexandra Burke) next week. Impersonators don’t appeal to me quite so much, but I am seeing the controversial Whitney Houston hologram tour in February.
Steve Michaels is an incredible Elvis impersonator, but, alas, he is not Elvis. Indeed, whilst all of these shows arouse controversy and debate, Elvis in Concert is free from any of that drama. At its core, it’s just a celebration of Elvis’ music and his live concert performances. No holograms. No CGI. Just Elvis.
Elvis in Concert (even called “Elvis Presley 2019 tour” on the programme) is billed as the closest thing, and the next best thing, to seeing the real thing in concert. What makes it extra special is two of Elvis’ biggest dreams were to perform in the UK and to perform with a live orchestra. These two dreams died with him. But if his legacy lives on, why can’t his dreams? And If I Can Dream… can’t my dreams come true?
The tour uses video footage of Elvis performing at different concerts, singing some of his greatest hits, like Jailhouse Rock and Suspicious Minds. Whilst we’ve all seen some of these videos before, to see it on huge screens in an arena – an arena that Elvis should have had the honour of performing at – was particularly special.
Elvis was joined by the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra; the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra have recorded three platinum albums with Elvis’ music. They are one of the most renowned orchestras in the world; every note they created was divine, and it was wonderful seeing an orchestral take on some of the world’s most iconic songs.
As well as the RPCO, the legendary TCB Band was also there. They performed and toured with Elvis back in the day, so it was very touching and special to see them, now all old men, reliving their younger years and honouring their friend. There were also three live singers who provided Elvis with some fantastic backing vocals. They were both talented and enthusiastic. I particularly enjoyed their jazz movements to Hound Dog.
The event was “hosted” by Elvis’ ex-wife, the iconic Priscilla Presley, who previously performed in Manchester as the Wicked Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the Opera House. I will go to the grave regretting I did not go to see that pantomime (I’m not a big fan of pantos but I adore Priscilla). She came across as humble and modest; she was not flashy or showy. She seemed thankful and grateful that so many people are still so in love with her ex-husband, and she clearly still loves him very much, too.
She was joined by Jerry Schilling, a close associate of the Presleys. When they showed some unseen video footage of their younger years with Elvis, they had a small disagreement over whether one video was before or after Elvis and Priscilla’s wedding, which was funny. They appeared unrehearsed and natural, which was charming. They also chatted to the TCB Band, which was sweet.
Elvis has a stellar legacy, and people will be Jailhouse Rockin’ to his music until the end of time. Elvis in Concert is a worthy tribute to the King. It’s nostalgic and cathartic. It left me feeling a little bitter that, unlike so many of my other favourite artists, it is literally impossible for me to ever see Elvis in concert… but I did see Elvis in Concert, and, boy, was it swell!