Elvis Unlimited invited ElvisNews.com for their convention in Randers. Having heard nothing but good about their previous conventions and looking at the programme that promised Scotty Moore (unfortunately D.J. Fontana wasn't able to come due to health problems), Ronnie McDowell, Shaun Nielsen, Joe Esposito, Ed Bonja, Keith Alverson and Ernst Jorgensen, we decided to go. We hit the highway, which turned out to be a long, but certainly not lonely one at all (the trip took almost 3 hours more than estimated).
Upon arriving we found out soon that Elvis Unlimited organised everything perfectly. A nice hotel in the centre of a beautiful city was our home base for two days. In the hotel we witnessed an obviously tired Scotty Moore still taking time for some impatient fans that wanted an autograph. We also encountered Ronnie McDowell and still we are not sure that the make up and wig he was wearing the next day really were an improvement.
On Saturday 10.00 a.m. the doors were opened, so everybody had time to do the necessary shopping (the latest FTD release "Eastern Special" and the Danish "Greatest Hits" collection were already available) before the show started at 12 o'clock.
Unfortunately the first thing we were told was that Joe Esposito wouldn't be there because of illness. Elvis Unlimited made up for this fact by having all staff members walking around in a yellow T-shirt that had besides their own logo on the chest a very big "ElvisNews" on the back, unfortunately they forgot the ".com" (but still… thanks, Henrik, we felt very at home! ;-)).
The show was opened with something that was looking like a sketch by Jess Rasmussen and the organiser Henrik Knudsen. Although we didn't understand much of what was going on on stage, it really seemed everybody was having great fun, both on stage and in the audience.
Then Henrik did an on stage interview with Ed Bonja and Keith Alverson, asking about their experiences during Elvis-shows. Ed Bonja had some great anecdotes about touring with Elvis and Keith Alverson talked about photographing Elvis as a fan. Next Shaun Nielsen did his thing. Besides singing some songs he couldn't get enough of telling how great he was according to Elvis.
Ernst Jorgensen had a small talk about the upcoming Vegas box and the "Summer FTD" (We didn't know that Ernst could sound so funny, and are very thankful to Arjan Deelen for translating it real time for us). Instead of the planned 1969 show this release will contain a show dating from 1975 (Murfreesboroo, May 6). This particular show was chosen because the recording has a very good balance between music and voice and Elvis was in a good shape vocally. Ernst played some songs of the show, "My Boy", "T.R.O.U.B.L.E." and "I'll Remember You", which were indeed sounding very well.
The main event, Ronnie McDowell with Scotty Moore, started with a country section in which Ronnie showed his admiration for other country artists and told a bit about his own career for about half an hour. It was fun, but clearly not what everybody was waiting for. When Ronnie thought he was getting a standing ovation, it was because Scotty showed up behind his back. It was the beginning of a great show. Scotty obviously enjoyed himself and the spark lit the audience on fire. The Danish people showed that they can really party and were gladly joined by the German, Norwegian, Swedish, Dutch and Italian (!) fans that took the time to travel to Denmark. Sun songs like "That's All Right Mama", "Blue Moon of Kentucky" and "Baby, Let's Play House" got a great treatment. Ronnie told Scotty to come in the spotlight and not to turn his back to the audience, but Scotty let him know that "he had to communicate with the band".
After the Sun-songs the show went on with a roughly chronological overview of Elvis' career: the early RCA recordings passed by, but also an outstanding "King Creole", "How Great Thou Art" and even "Hurt". If Scotty wasn't tired of the show, he surely was after the queue with admirers went by… he was signing anything from books to guitars for almost two hours.
During the convention we had the opportunity to spent quite some time with Ed Bonja and Keith Alverson and they both had a lot of interesting stories to tell. Ed Bonja from the "Elvis Organisation point of view" and Keith Alverson from the "audience point of view". Both were interesting perspectives. We asked all the questions we received from you, they'll be on-line soon.
Concluding we can only say that it was a marvelous convention; perfectly organised and really worth the trip. We know now why so many nationalities were gathered in Randers, Denmark of all places. When you have the slightest possibility to join the next convention: do so!
For more information about Elvis Unlimited and their convention, visit their website.