This is quite an event. This year’s the 50th anniversary of Elvis returning to live performance in 1969, when he took up residency in The Hilton Las Vegas, and this tour celebrates it using footage of the King himself, with a live musical backing. You may wonder how it’s going to be pulled off, but you won’t be disappointed.
There are four elements to this show – Elvis on screen, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and backing vocalists, the TCB Band (Elvis’ own backing band), and appearances live on stage by Priscilla Presley as Mistress of Ceremonies and Jerry Schilling, associate of Elvis throughout his career, as Master of Ceremonies.
The synchronicity of the background film of Elvis performing and the orchestra is on point every step of the way. Robin Smith, conductor, leads each element through this musical journey, encouraging the audience to participate by clapping, singing along and dancing in the aisles. The backing singers are front of stage giving them a performance space of their own instead of them being tucked away out of sight. A nice touch.
The TCB band – James Burton (lead guitar), Ron Tutt (drums) and Glen D. Hardin (piano) – accompany four tracks during the first act and return midway through the second act to show the audience that they still have it going on! Burton’s guitar solos are still clear and well delivered and Hardin’s musical arrangements have stood the test of time.
The programme is divided into two acts, each act including the most famous tracks from the Elvis catalogue of songs and recorded performances. The American Trilogy has us up on our feet, the emotions still there. Suspicious Minds sets off a frenzy of boogieing around the auditorium. Adulation abounds, West Coast-style.
Priscilla Presley and Jerry Shilling make a valuable contribution during their spots in the show, sharing memories and commentary on the personal film sections that are on screen. It gives an insight into the real world of the Presley family and their friends, although a scripted commentary with an autocue would be of great benefit to these sections. Both
Priscilla and Jerry appear ill at ease, without the flow to make it appear there was chemistry between them.
It’s a thoroughly enjoyable night out, though. For adoring fans of The King, he lives on.