REVIEW: This is Elvis

Posted on July 12th 2018 by Whats on Northeast

Review by Andrew Bramfitt

It’s hard to think that the legend that is Elvis Presley, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll and one of the most iconic and recognisable voices ever to have graced the airwaves, could have been so close to quitting music performing for good.  It was after a gruelling run of movie productions in which Elvis’ role was diluted to, as he put it, “Sing a bit, hit the bad guy, get the girl” that Presley, in a stew of insecurity and self doubt, decided that he could no longer perform to his roots of live performing.  He’d been away from chart music for 8 years in which time the British invasion had taken America by storm, hippy and surf music had become the West Coast soundtrack and many were proclaiming Rock ‘n’ Roll was dead.

Persuaded by TV Producer Bob Finkel to make a TV special (developing an original idea by Presley’s manager Colonel Parker that he should make a Christmas show) Elvis began recording over 4 hours of material which would later be distilled down into the 50 minute special and broadcast on December 3rd.  The impact was worldwide with Presley’s recordings rocketing into the charts and calls for him to perform following long and hard from all corners of the globe.

At this point, Colonel Parker (whose motives were often very selfish in seeing how much he could personally make from Presley) signed Elvis up to 3 seasons at a brand-new hotel The International on the Las Vegas strip.  Once again, Presley’s insecurities resurfaced, especially when he thought of the alumni who performed regularly at the Nevada hotspots but he battled through and thus his Vegas show legend was born.

This show, produced by Bill Kenwright and Laurie Mansfield is a replay of these two pivotal shows in the Elvis flightpath to immortality.  Steve Michaels IS Elvis; he isn’t playing Elvis, he isn’t impersonating Elvis, he doesn’t have an uncanny passing resemblance to Elvis – he IS Elvis.  To be convinced of just how good Steve’s performances are, find out the two live shows on YouTube and be prepared to have the hairs on your arms stand up.  The live shows have all of Elvis’ power and style but still show some of his ring rustiness that was later polished from years of Vegas headlining – Michaels performance captures all of this and makes it, and him, the best EVER Elvis since Elvis.

This is not a journey show, it doesn’t have much dialogue outside of setting up the two performances, nor does it chart Elvis’ life at this time save for his initial reluctance to play such high profile shows with no warm up tour but for any fan of Elvis Presley there is no better show to see.  Steve Michaels is able to bring the intimate, fun loving Elvis seen on the ‘68 TV special and then explode into the Vegas show king, complete with brilliant set, band and backing singers.  Personal favourites are Burning Love and the hypnotic Suspicious Minds, guaranteed to get everyone up dancing and singing.


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