I saw the TCB-band with quite some singers, beside Elvis: Terry Mike Jeffrey, Maarten and Jenson Bloomer to name the best so far. I liked them all, one better than the other. Tonight I heard a vocalist that is from a totally different league. Dutch singer Bouke is by far the best vocalist – Elvis disregarded most of the time – that I heard singing with the greatest band on earth. He is subtle when needed and powerful when possible.
We went to the Belgian show some 160km away from home, while the show was only 40km away one day earlier. The TCB-band was unfortunately without Jerry Scheff, but he was replaced skillfully by a Belgian bass player, who also made the arrangements for the orchestra. The orchestra was conducted by Joe Guercio and included the original Hammond player. During Also Sprach Zarathustra and the opening riff it was already clear that the TCB-band and orchestra were very well balanced, complementary to each other.
Of course we knew Bouke from the CD that was included with one of the magazines of ElvisMatters and we saw some of his songs on YouTube, but we weren’t ready for what was coming. Boy, that man has a sound… sometimes very close to Elvis, but it never felt like he was trying to imitate him. Obviously the ballads are Bouke’s piece of cake, but also with the up tempo songs he did a very good job, especially Johnny B. Goode was spectacular. This was not only because of Bouke’s singing, but also because of the great solos by James, Glenn and Ronnie (okay, Frank did a nice bass solo too). Also Proud Mary, Polk Salad Annie and Suspicious Minds got a spectacular treatment by singer, band and orchestra.
Still, the ballads got the hands of the audience together the most: You Gave Me A Mountain was astonishing, I Just Can’t Help Believin’ tender, like Don’t Cry Daddy and In The Ghetto. What Now My Love brought the first standing ovation, it looked like Bouke was a bit uncomfortable with it and he went on right away. Also Bridge Over Troubled Water, My Boy and An American Trilogy (with a beautiful flute solo!) caused standing ovations. Still they didn’t belong to the highlight(s) of the show. That was reserved for Glenn D. Hardin on piano, with Bouke singing two of the songs they recorded in Nashville. Lead Me, Guide Me was really beautiful, with a slight support of a Hammond organ and the backing vocals. Unchained Melody was indescribable. Bouke’s rendition made Elvis’ versions turn pale, if I hadn’t more respect for Elvis I would say “Elvis, eat your heart out!”. Before some people (who never heard Bouke actually live) start to react again based on the YouTube version: no it isn’t the karaoke version, but a beautiful slow rendition, just like Elvis’s, but in tune from the first to the last second and way more powerful.
I only have one small comment for Bouke: don’t do the moves, you don’t need them. Last but not least: ElvisMatters congratulations with another great event!