Music Review: Ultimate Elvis, Auditorium At M&S Bank Arena, Liverpool

Image Source: Ticket Quarter

This show promised the Ultimate Elvis experience, and that is exactly what we were treated to!

The stage set-up featured two guitar players, drummers, a piano player, the brass section and two backing singers called The Passionettes. Ben Thompson arrived on stage as Elvis Presley in a white jacket, black shirt and black trousers (not sure if they were blue suede shoes from our vantage point!) to strong cheers from a crowd determined to have a good time.

Shake, Rattle & Roll was a lively opening number, and we were immediately treated to impressive dance moves and shakes, as were Elvis’ trademarks in his younger days; this was followed by It’s All Right Mama and the all-time favourite Blue Suede Shoes, which was performed very professionally and slickly by both Elvis and The Passionettes.

Without a pause for breath, Don’t Be Cruel was next, with some very impressive and energetic dancing. Along the way, we had Stuck On You, Lil Sister and Marie’s The Name Of His Latest Flame. There was a continuous effort by all on stage, and it was nonstop with hit after hit. In particular, Big Hank provided an excellent piano accompaniment.

Hey Bossa Nova and When My Baby Loves Me came next, followed by two of Ben’s many “favourite songs”, and tunes that got the audience really excited, Return To Sender and especially Viva Las Vegas. Elvis then left the stage for a few minutes, and returned dressed in black leather, as the King was during his famous comeback special show. We then had a medley of Heartbreak Hotel, Hound Dog, All Shook Up and Evil. There was also a great version of Guitar Man and Lordy Lordy. Further favourites in Love Me Tender and Jailhouse Rock led us to a very authentic Why Won’t My Dream to end the first half.

The second half began with Elvis on stage with his guitar as he played it while singing See See Rider, then there was a rousing rendition of Proud Mary, an emotional You Gave Me A Mountain, and another impressive piano session for the brilliantly-sung My Way. At this time, Elvis gave out souvenir scarves to his many adoring fans of various ages! Ben said that Hurt was the hardest song for him to sing, and he often noted about having sips of “wa wa” (water).

Elvis encouraged the audience to join in and dance along with Johnny B. Good, Sweet Caroline and Burning Love. He then slowed down the pace with You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling, accompanied by great guitarists. The trademark Elvis dance was energetically performed to Poke Salad amidst huge cheers. More familiar tunes followed, assisted ably by The Passionettes and the great backing musicians. The iconic The Wonder Of You, American Trilogy and Suspicious Minds were just what the crowd wanted. The final song Can’t Help Falling In Love brought a fantastic show to a close.

This was a superb evening of musical entertainment. Ben was the most authentic soundalike of Elvis that we’ve heard, getting his high notes and mannerisms spot-on, and the backing performers were topnotch too. Highly recommended for fans of all music, not just those who love Elvis.

Overall Rating: 9.5/10 – Classic