Written By: Mark Armstrong
Format: Music Show
Date: October 13 2018
Location: Echo Arena, Liverpool
It’s been over 40 years since Elvis Presley sadly and suddenly passed away, but his legacy as the greatest of all-time remains to this day. As you may expect, there are many tribute shows paying homage to Elvis across the globe, but few shows are as authentic and captivating as the current Elvis World Tour, which I recently sampled during its visit to Liverpool.
Unusually for a tribute show, we had not one but three different performers in the role of Elvis, and all three played their part exceptionally. Ben Thompson was up first in an old-school white suit, followed by Dean Z sporting all-black, and finally Shawn Klush, whose white and gold attire represented the later years of Presley’s career. Thompson and Dean shared the first half (which lasted just under 90 minutes in total), while the second half – roughly lasting around an hour – belonged to Klush, who has the reputation of being the World’s Greatest Elvis!
All of Elvis’ big hits were covered at some point, with the odd crossover (Hound Dog was used in the sets of both Ben and Dean). In some cases, the style of the rendition differed to the Presley version, but for the most part, the songs were faithful in rhythm and tone to the tunes that Elvis belted out all those years ago. As well as the likes of Jailhouse Rock, All Shook Up, Viva Las Vegas, Return To Sender and Suspicious Minds, the show added other traits familiar with Elvis, such as the dance moves – and did they get the fans excited! – the guitar solos by the backing crew, and the use of props such as a stool for Elvis to surround himself during some of his hits.
The crowd got rather excited throughout; at times, one could imagine that we’d been taken back to the 1970s, and this was a whooping audience totally wrapped up in the spectacle of seeing Elvis live. Case in point: the number of females who took up Dean Z’s proposal for a quick kiss on the cheek at the front of the stage during one song was huge. They were also full of energy when Klush distributed pale blue scarves to end the production, and each of the performers received catcalls to “take your kit off”, something that they thankfully did not comply with (hey, it was a family show!).
The main draw of this show will be the songs themselves, and each of the three stars were extremely believable as Elvis, delivering his biggest tunes as good as anybody other than the original Presley could have. Back in Elvis’ time, songs were largely kept fairly short, which ensured a fast pace to this show, although we were also treated to other songs, some based on the Liverpool location such as Something and Yesterday (those two of course being major songs for local lads The Beatles). The stage was kept minimal with no screens or extravagant effects, but there was clever use of colourful lighting, and during one or two songs, strobe lighting to make the performer – in this case Klush – stand out that much more.
Honestly, there isn’t much more that could be done to improve the live experience for this show. Certainly, the audience had a terrific time (including one older lady who enjoyed a lengthy dance during the intermission with another attendee to the vintage songs being played over the PA system), and it seemed like Thompson, Dean and Klush were all delighted to perform here, and to perform in a city associated with such musical history and heritage as Liverpool. It would have been nice to see a quick video montage of Elvis back in his heyday prior to things getting under way, but the evening certainly didn’t suffer because it was lacking in this area.
Summing this up, then, you couldn’t go wrong with watching any of these three artists perform live, so to see the entire trio one after the other was a joy. Elvis die-hards will get a real kick out of this, and for the few who are unfamiliar with Presley’s back catalogue, this show is a near-perfect demonstration of why Elvis was, and will always be, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Overall Rating: 9/10 – Outstanding