Elvis - The Concert


Elvis - The Concert, Bournemouth International Centre

THEY came in their thousands to worship at the feet of the King and left with tears of joy in their eyes. For Elvis seemingly rose from the dead last night as his original 1970s' Taking Care of Business (TCB) band was reunited on stage.

Just seeing the legendary guitarist James Burton, bassman Jerry Scheff, drummer Ronnie Tutt and keyboards maestro Glen Hardin would have been a joy. But there, projected huge on to a screen behind them, was the man himself, 23 long years after his death, delivering a classic vocal performance.

The result was awesome. The concert started to the rousing strains of Also Sprach Zarathustra, the stage hidden behind huge white drapes. Suddenly Ronnie Tutt's machine-gun drumming led the band into C.C. Rider as the covers fell away to reveal a 30 foot tall image of the king of rock 'n' roll, dressed in white, studded with rhinestones sporting a serious batwing collar and cranking headlong into full, glorious musical flight.

Over the next two hours the band and singers - rehearsed note-perfect to interact with the videos - re-lived the glory years. We got everything from the big ballads to the out and out rockers. From In The Ghetto to Hound Dog. The finale was, of course, The American Trilogy.

Joining the musicians were vocalists The Sweet Inspirations, The Imperial Quartet, a 16-piece orchestra and even members of the Bournemouth Symphony Chorus, helping out with a little gospel.

Using unique full-colour archive film footage from landmark concerts in 1970, 1972 and 1973, the engineers have managed to revisit Elvis at his best. It was a little bit of time travel and  the musicians, older and greyer than the ghosts of their past that flickered across the screen, seemed to be enjoying the opportunity of a second youth.

The show, which finds the King interacting with the audience and even introducing his musicians, has been touring the States for more than three years to ecstatic receptions. But the producers say this current tour will be its last.

The audience loved it. Not least because  it represented the closest they will ever get to their dream coming true. For although Elvis performed more than 1,000 concerts before an estimated audience of 20 million fans, he never realised his ambition to appear in the United Kingdom.

March 2001

© Jeremy Miles 2022