|ELVIS FOREVER - A REVIEW
By Brian Quinn
In order to celebrate the fact that 2010 marks what would have been Elvis' 75th Birthday, BBC Radio 2 organized the 'Elvis Forever' Concert in Hyde Park
(London) on Sunday 12th September, 2010.This was the second ever Elvis Tribute Concert held in the UK( the first one being a televised show over twenty
years ago). However, this was the first one outdoors. Elvis Presley Enterprises were fully involved with the event and Priscilla Presley agreed to attend.
The Concert was given considerable publicity on BBC Radio 2, especially on the Chris Evans Breakfast Show. It was reported that ticket sales were healthy
prior to the big day.
On the actual day of the event we were blessed with the weather as it was warm with mostly clear skies and no rain. On my arrival at Hyde Park around 5 pm
there was a long queue waiting to gain entrance and once inside it quickly filled up to what seemed capacity. As with most Elvis audiences these days the
crowd were a very mixed bunch ranging from young to old and all ages in between. As the Concert was held in Central London there were quite a few people
speaking in foreign languages so it would appear that tourists also took advantage of attending as one could buy tickets right up to the time of the Concert
Small Official Programmes were on sale inside the Concert ground and refreshingly were only £1 each. The Programme Introduction was written by Anthony
CHERRY, the Producer of 'Elvis Forever'....It read:
"ELVIS NEVER REALLY LEFT THE BUILDING, DID HE? He remains in our homes, on the internet, on the telly, and on the radio, everyday. Even while
you're listening to other music he's there, because he influenced so many. Without Elvis, there would be no rock 'n' roll and without that...well...un-thinkable.
I could quote you statistics. The greatest number of hits; the most gold records; the biggest star on the planet. but somehow, that doesn't explain why Elvis
endures. Perhaps it's the legend? The superstar lifestyle...his home in Memphis, Graceland....his unique sense of style? I think it's much simpler. It's the
music. Whether you like the rock 'n' roll records; or the movies; or the '68 special; or the Vegas shows, it's the music that draws you to the man. And that's
what we're about today.
All our artists from Elvis' concert bandmates who are bringing us his authentic sound, to new bands, indie musicians and out-right rockers are celebrating the
King of Rock 'n' Roll with you.
And what brought you here? Perhaps you're a dedicated fan; or celebrating a special occasion; or seeing a favourite artist? Perhaps it's because you want
to be able to say you were at a once in a lifetime event where Elvis sang in Hyde Park. (You will!)...Or perhaps it's because we all know that Elvis will never
leave the building. He is with us forever...
Producer, Elvis Forever"
On to the actual Concert. Before commencing my review of the various artists I must make it clear from the outset that the opinions given are purely my own
and in no way reflect what others might have thought of them. All such reviews must by their very nature be subjective. Further, I am going by memory and
some of the details may be inaccurate but I have done my best.
The producer Anthony Cherry commenced the proceedings by introducing himself and saying a few words about the Concert. He then introduced Chris
Evans (BBC Radio 2 DJ) the compere for the night. Chris bounded on the stage in a typical 'garish' shirt and was in good humour and spirits throughout the
Concert. He performed his role admirably and when introducing the artists and tracks proved that he knew what he was talking about with lots of accurate
'Elvis Overture' - BBC Concert Orchestra
The Orchestra was a massive 60 piece one with the men dressed in white Tuxedos and the women in black. They opened in traditional Elvis style by playing
what we all know as the '2001 Theme'. I love this music and always get a buzz every time I hear it. A first rate Orchestra with years of experience behind them.
'Blue Suede Shoes' - Scouting For Girls
This is a very popular group with today's teenagers and they got the show going with a classic Elvis track. The band were 'tight' and the bass player was
particularly effective, coming across loud and clear. I was not that impressed with the lead singer but they seemed to be having fun and are known Elvis
supporters as they had a Top10 release in the UK recently with 'Elvis Ain't Dead'.
'Can't Help Falling In Love' - Fran Healy - TCB Band, BBC Concert Orchestra and Capital Voices.
I must be honest in that I found Fran Healy to have a weak voice and not very impressive. He did a routine job on the Elvis track from 'Blue Hawaii'.
'I Just Can't Help Believing' - Marti Pellow - TCB Band, BBC Concert Orchestra and Capital Voices.
Marti Pellow, former lead singer with popular group 'Wet Wet Wet' has a nice voice and gave a competent rendition of this popular classic track from Elvis'
Vegas era. Not an easy song to sing but the TCB Band and Capital Voices (all professional singers in their own right) helped Marti deliver the goods.
'My Baby Left Me/That's All Right Mama' - Imelda May + Band
I had been looking forward to seeing Imelda May after viewing her performances on YouTube and she did not disappoint. Lots of energy and a great voice
and backing band. The classic Elvis tracks were done in true 50's style with slap bass producing a great sound. Most surprisingly, after delivering what had
been the highlight of the show so far she did not appear to get the applause she deserved. Most strange and I cannot fathom this one out. Following her
performance the compare Chris Evans came on stage and said 'Imelda will be back later if you want her'. Unfortunately she did not return for an encore later
as most of the other artists did. Strange!!
'Always On My Mind' - Fyfe Dangerfield - TCB Band, BBC Concert Orchestra and Capital Voices
A new artist on the scene and one I had never heard of before. His hair style was unkempt covering a lot of his face and I thought that aspect let him down.
However, he has a beautiful clear voice and sang 'Always On My Mind' to perfection. Playing acoustic guitar he had minimal backing and did not need it. No
doubt we will be hearing more of Fyfe in the future.
'You've Lost That Loving' Feelin' - Tony Hadley - TCB Band, BBC Concert Orchestra and Capital Voices
Former member of Spandau Ballet, Tony Hadley, is an accomplished singer and did an excellent job on 'Feelin'. He has a strong voice and looked as though
he was enjoying the experience.
'Burning Love' - Jon Allen - BBC Concert Orchestra and Capital Voices
Another new face on the scene, Jon Allen, did a good version of 'Burning Love' without being outstanding.
'Are You Lonesome Tonight' - Craig David - BBC Concert Orchestra and Capital Voices
A real surprise here for me. Craig David was outstanding and for me was the best singer at the Concert. His rendition of 'Lonesome' was sung with real
sensitivity and he made a fan of me instantly. I had never listened to any of his records before but I will now.
'Such A Night' - Elio Pace - BBC Concert Orchestra and Capital Voices
Elio is also a new name for me and whilst doing 'Such A Night' justice was not particularly outstanding. However, he used the stage well and showed off his
piano playing skills by joining the Concert Orchestra player in the middle of the song.
'It's Now Or Never' - Tony Christie - BBC Concert Orchestra
An old favourite, Tony Christie, sang a straightforward version of 'Never'. Whilst having a good voice, Tony did not add anything to the Elvis original.
'If I Can Dream'/'You're The Devil In Disguise' - Nell Bryden + Band
Yet another artist I had not heard of before but she performed both tracks well. She is very much in the style of Imelda May and really gave both tracks her
all. We will no doubt be hearing more from her in the future.
'Return To Sender/'She's Not You' - The Magnets (Acapella)
Using only their voices, The Magnets attempted to deliver both songs in novel fashion. Personally I feel they did not come across too well and needed more
experience in this genre. However, they were enjoying themselves and did their best.
'Love Me Tender' - Fyfe Dangerfield
Fyfe's second visit to the stage was to sing the classic Elvis movie track. Again he had no backing but certainly had the crowd singing along with him. This
artist has a promising career ahead of him. A good find.
'All Shook Up'/Johnny B. Goode - TCB Band
Suzi Quatro has been an Elvis fan since 1956. She came on stage in her traditional black leathers, turned to the TCB Band and said "Tonight we are going
to kick some..." She then paused and said "Oh I don't know if we are allowed to say that on air - however we are going to kick ASS!! And she certainly did
with the help of the TCB Band. She performed both tracks well, particularly 'Johnny B. Goode'. Excellent. She looked a little tired tonight no doubt due to her
playing in Germany the night before. A class act.
'Leiber And Stoller Medley - BBC Concert Orchestra
Now it was the turn of the Orchestra to shine on some Elvis songs and they were very good.
'Heartbreak Hotel' - Jon Allen - BBC Concert Orchestra
Jon did a fairly good version of this track without being anything special.
'I've Lost You' - Mica Paris - BBC Concert Orchestra And Capital Voices
Mica, known as the UK's 'Queen Of Soul', has been around a long time and in fact appeared on the first Elvis Tribute Show as mentioned above. She has a
powerful voice and delivered an excellent version of the rarely performed Elvis track 'I've Lost You'. She had a minor upset during the first few bars of the
song when the microphone was playing up.
'Bridge Over Troubled Water' - Tony Hadley - The TCB Band and BBC Concert Orchestra.
The second performance by Tony Hadley and he again proved that he has a strong voice singing voice perfectly suited to this type of song. He commented
what a great night this was.
'You Don't Have To Say You Love Me' - Michael Ball - TCB Band, BBC Concert Orchestra and Capital Voices
Michael Ball is better known for his theatrical performances and his most famous role was in the stage production of 'Jolson'. He has an excellent voice and
certainly sang this Elvis and Dusty Springfield classic to perfection.
'In The Ghetto' - Marty Pellow - TCB Band - BBC Concert Orchestra and Capital Voices
Marty's second song at this Concert and he did a really nice version of 'Ghetto' without being exceptional.
'Hound Dog' - Scouting For Girls
The second song for this young group. Not as good as their first effort mainly due to this track being more suited to a 'performance' a la Elvis.
'A Little Less Conversation' - BBC Concert Orchestra and Capital Voices
KT Tunstall, a new name to me, sang this very well without adding much to the original. She used the stage throughout.
It was now the turn of Priscilla to be introduced to the audience and I must say she came over very well and did Elvis proud. She spoke of lost opportunities
by Elvis to tour overseas, specifying the UK as being particularly loyal to The King. She emphasized how much Elvis loved his fans and that although he was
no longer here in person his spirit was here this night and that his main love was singing for his fans. On behalf of all the Presley family she thanked the fans
for their continuing loyalty. At this stage of the proceedings quite a few fans were expecting Lisa Marie to be introduced to the audience by Priscilla but
apparently she was not in attendance. Personally, I find this very strange behaviour by Lisa. Now living about forty miles from the Concert venue she cannot
bother to attend. Very disappointing.
Priscilla then introduced Sir Tom Jones, who had received top billing. He performed three Elvis tracks, one of them 'Run On' being his latest single release
and two others - 'Tryin' To Get To You' and an unrehearsed 'One Night'. All three were performed very well but in a routine fashion for Jones. Of course
one can see why he became famous - his voice. However, he belts songs out without thought for 'feeling'. He said that he had been friends with 'Elvis
Presley' (note he did not use the more friendly 'term 'Elvis'). He gave a plug to his latest album and then was off. Interestingly, prior to leaving the stage he
appeared to be in deep conversation with James Burton and I'm sure the crowd thought he was going to do another encore but he did not. Be interesting to
know what they were talking about - I would not be surprised to find Burton or the TCB band on Jones' next album!!
Then came the highlight of the evening -
THE KING on the big screen singing 'The Wonder Of You' backed by the TCB Band, of course, and the BBC Concert Orchestra. James got a big cheer
when Elvis said "Play The Song James" and the big screen focused on James as he was then and now. Again, I appreciate that this was a Tribute Concert
but I do feel that Elvis should have sang three songs, perhaps 'Suspicious Minds' and 'American Trilogy' or 'If I Can Dream'. They would really have got
a great crowd response.
Then Chris Evans introduced 'Suspicious Minds' from the Las Vegas Cirque Du Soleil production 'Viva Elvis' and as it happens, Elvis' forthcoming single
release here in the UK. The single is taken from 'Viva Elvis - The Album' but the BBC Concert Orchestra played along with it. The crowd were bopping and
moving around to this. At the same time as the track was being played a firework display lit up the sky all around the big stage. A fitting ending to a
memorable evening and all for around £30. Excellent value for money.
Throughout the Concert some 'surprise' guests were introduced including cricketer Freddie Flintoff; news reader Moira Stewart; TV presenter Melanie
Sykes and two radio One DJ's, one female and one male whose names I cannot remember. All said a few words in praise of Elvis.
It must be said that ALL artists appearing, famous and new, gave their best on the night and did Elvis proud. My comments, as already stated, reflect my
personal opinions and preferences although I have tried to be objective.
As a final comment on the Concert - YES - it would have been great if more big names had been there but then again ticket prices would have been
As you can imagine, the crowds attempting to leave the Park all at once would have created havoc without the police erecting barriers and staggering them
leaving the Park, particularly due to this being a heavy traffic area. However, the crowd mood was totally defused at the Marble Arch Exit by a member of the
police force with a microphone. He told jokes all the time the people were waiting and he was really funny - the crowd loved him.
All in all a great day out and one that did Elvis proud.
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