One Night With Elvis And His BoysBy Peter Verbruggen - Elvis Matters, April 27, 2005 | Other
If ever there was doubt about the future success of “Elvis The Concert”, every shred of that was wiped away last Tuesday in Brussels – when the TCB Band, the Sweets, the Stamps and the Joe Guercio (local) Orchestra kicked of the 2005 tour in Forest National. Let me be quite honest: up to 5 minutes before the lights went down, I was 100% sure that this would be the very last Concert on Belgian ground. The signs prior to the show were not good – at all. First off: this was the smallest team of original Band members that ever traveled with the Video show. No Ronnie Tutt, no Ed Hill, no Imperials… In fact, only 8 people on stage had actually worked with Elvis in the seventies, and that includes Ron Fuer, the organ player in Joe’s orchestra. Secondly, the ticket sales were under expectation with only 3000 tickets sold, two weeks prior to the show. And last but not least, the press seemed to have lost interest in the show. Not one journalist – except for one Belgian radio station (Studio Brussels) – paid attention to this event. Back in 1999, the first European virtual show made headline news with camera crews lining up to interview the band – but after 3 similar shows, the pregnancy of Britney Spears (‘Look how much weight she gained’) seems to be more important – glory to the simple minded.. But when I went in this huge, 6000 seats hall, “IT” was back! Promoter Clear Channel had managed to sell another 1500 tickets in two weeks time, mainly thanks to a campaign in the French speaking part of the country. It was Elvis Time in Brussels! His initials in bright lights on the curtain, the buzz of 4500 excited fans, Elvis-T-shirts, TCB necklaces, sideburns and Super Souvenir Programs everywhere. After 3 concerts in the small country of Belgium (Brussels 1999 and Antwerp 2001 and 2003), the turn-out of the fans (and non-fans) was once again astonishing. Agreed, 4500 sold tickets is no record, but hey – it was a Tuesday night and some people do have to go to work, right? The most heartwarming thing I noticed was the average age of the fans. Sure, there were elderly people as well – but that was a minority. I’d say the average age was about 40 – way too young to have experienced the pre 1977 Elvis hype. I saw kids, barely 5 years old, and in our group the youngest were 8 and 9. Isn’t that amazing? There were people coming from as far as Czech (I know, because we sold them the tickets), France, Germany and some of the UK (“no patience”). And the inevitable impersonators were there too, yes. Can’t security do something about that? What they may call a tribute is in reality mockery. Back to the show: exactly 9 minutes after 8 the deep trembling of Ron Fuer’s synthesizer announced that The Band was Ready to Play! As soon as the curtain dropped, screams, yells and shouts filled the concert hall. It seemed as if a million flashbulbs went off at the same time. It was fabulous – once again, although this was my 14th Concert show. And There He Was: dressed in his Aloha suit, like a prince from another planet. O See, See Rider… Frequent visitors know that the sound in Forest National has always been difficult to handle. The acoustics are terrible. Finish one song, and it comes right back at ya – not as bad as the Houston Astrodome, but close. This time, fortunately, the engineers almost got it right. Elvis’s voice was perhaps a bit too up-front in the mix (but did we really care?), and at times it seemed as if one of the major speakers on the right died for a second or two. Also, James’s guitar was too far back in the mix. It took the engineers 3 to 4 songs to fix the problem, and after that – it was a smooth run all the way. For those who’re going to see the show in the UK or in Holland, let me tell you this about Paul Leim (Shania Twain, Stevie Nicks, Lionel Richie, Olivia Newton-John,..). He is one hell of a drummer. I had the pleasure of meeting him in person last Monday, and he is just the kindest, warmest man you can imagine. Very friendly, a wonderful musician and a true admirer of the King. Ronnie couldn’t have asked for a better replacement than Paul. Watch his Drum Magic during Polk Salad Annie (2nd song of the 2nd part), see the expression on his face and you’ll know what I mean. Welcome on board Paul, you have proven to be the right man at the right place. Ronnie made the right choice! Also new on stage, was Tony Smith, who took John Wilkinson’s place next to James. Although Tony is a top guitarist (who took over James’s part in Paris, in 2002), he is too shy. Tony stepped out of the spotlight, leaving the attention 100% to James. I thought that it was wonderful that he used a Gibson Crest-like guitar, just like John used to have in the seventies. That is called RESPECT. Everything was there, the only thing missing perhaps, was a bit of spotlight for Tony. He knows his place on stage, and doesn’t want to push himself. That’s cool, but at the same time he’s very deserving of a bit more attention. Perhaps when he’s doing the home runs in the UK later this week? Highlights of the shows were – among many – of course “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and “Trilogy”. Especially that last song gave goose bumps. Portia Griffin (Sweets) took the song to a higher level, with her beautiful – almost Gospel like – voice. Elvis Presley would have been so proud of what this lady adds to his music. So, in short: this was NOT the opening show of the last tour ever. Far from. It can’t be. This was just the opening show of the Tour 2005. If Bob Sillerman is a smart man (and we know he is), this show will continue to tour the world for many more years to come. One condition though: he HAS to stick to the original band members. Imagine this show without James, Jerry, Glenn D. (you were awesome, Glenn!) or Joe – who would make the thing sparkle? Who else would make “it” happen? It’s exactly like Elvis said: these guys are the backbone of the whole show. They were and still are. More so, they’ve become his ambassadors. O, on a final note – the souvenir booth of EPE was somewhat smaller than in 2003: 2 sorts of T-shirts, shirts, lanyards, little pink Cadillac’s, posters (and more posters), EP glasses, a few gold souvenir records and a small variety of CD’s – that’s about it. For those who are waiting for THE Show: have fun tonight – for the others who saw the show in Brussels, I hope you enjoyed the evening like we did! Picture by David Hamal. And remember, the Elvis Matters fan club gives away a Duoticket For Elvis Classics. By popular demand, the Belgian fanclub ElvisMatters presents “Elvis Classics II”, a rock show with a classical touch. On May 21st and 22nd, Elvis’s conductor Joe Guercio guides a 75 piece orchestra thru the best live songs of Elvis. Last year, Joe Guercio praised on the show this way: “This is how Elvis wanted his songs to sound like. Elvis Classics is the ultimate tribute to his music.” Special guests are Jenson Bloomer and Tony Smith (UK). Although the show on Saturday is sold out, we offer our visitors a chance to win 2 VIP-tickets for the Sunday show (7 pm). If you’d like to see this show in Belgium, please mail in your answer to this question: who composed the 2001-theme “Also Sprach Zarathustra”? Send your answer to Elvis Matters If you want to be sure not to miss this concert you can get more information on this concert in our events section.
Elvis girl wrote on April 27, 2005
Great picture of our man, am waiting anxiously for Friday 29th to get here when i will be seeing him in all his glory again in Birmingham....can't wait!
Jim Semple wrote on April 27, 2005
I rang Birmingham NEC 2 days and she said there is still a lot of tickets outstanding, but I'm hoping we have a good crowd on the night.
Renan Augusto wrote on April 28, 2005
This cannot be the last tour! What about South America? And Africa? I live In Brazil and there are crowds begging for the concert. And this article says it seems they lost interesting? Come on man, we didn´t even had the chance to attend the concert! James Burton, Ronnie Tutt, Glen Hardin, EPE, Sillerman, whatever, consider this post representing the voice of millions (I say millions!) in Brazil that wishes to see you here. Elvis never played in other continents but now you have the chance to make this dream come true! Please!
Mauricio wrote on April 28, 2005
Last tour? Please don´t say that. Not before giving hello for brazilian fans that loves so much Elvis and TCB. Something must be done! Surely TCB would play a historic concert here. So I come here on this board saying: "Please look at us!". Who is the responsible for scheduling the concert? What´s necessary? Please don´t stop now, at least touch every continent, each part of the world with Elvis songs. It was his wish that unfortunately never came true. I don´t know if EPE reads this board or TCB members but reconsider about us. We beg man!! Brazil loves Elvis and TCB!
Marco Aurelio wrote on April 28, 2005
Hey, let´s get real! This can not be the last tour. I´m still waiting for something here in South America (especially Brazil) and Africa friends too. As Renan wrote below, it was an Elvis´ wish playing in all continents. I´m sure it would be great to have this concert here.
Pedro Nuno wrote on April 29, 2005
Peter you made a fine article but let me just give my opinion because, fortunatly, i was there too. I do agree that it can't be the last tour, the huge potencial of Elvis remais intact. About the age avarage, i do not agree 100% with you. More than 50% of the crowd had more than 50 years old. I haven't see 14 Concerts, only 4, but the youngest crowd i've seen was in the dutch concerts i went, in Rotherdam, 2001, and Amsterdam The Fantastic 2003, in booth cases avarage age crowd was less than 35 (my age). Paris (Bercy) 2000 had the most fantastic athmosfere of all. The sound i found it very good after the frist songs, since, in the frist part, i was seated back. In the second half of the concert i was part of the 60/80 fans that stood up in front of the stage and the sound was not that good, because you were too near from it. And it's true, people came from all over Europe: France, there was the "My happiness" Fan Club, Germany, England, the Czech Republic that gave us the honnor of the presence of fantastic Otto Meszaros, the guy that give to all of us all the Memory Records releases,and also PORTUGAL, the country where i'm from!! I it was a very, very GOOOOD CONCERT, with fantastic versions, including the new Trouble/Polk Salad medley, and the Long Tall sally/Wole lot a Shakin & Big Hunk of love, pure rock and roll explosion.
Sean Ryan wrote on April 29, 2005
I really hope they take this show to South America for the many fantastic fans we have over in that part of the world. I have seen the show a number of times and very much looking forward to witnessing it again in London next month. Words cannot describe how good this show is.
Priscilla wrote on April 30, 2005
Saw it for my first time in Birmingham last night and it was fantastic....really good how it is done.
Jim Semple wrote on April 30, 2005
I saw it at the Birmingham NEC last night and it was absolutely brilliant, better infact than when i last saw it at Birmingham 2 / 3 years ago. Ronnie Tutts stand in, as you would expect, was absolutely fantastic as well. My only moan is the NEC have to do something about the lack of toilet facilities, I thought I was gonna burst at half time!
Elvis girl wrote on April 30, 2005
Was at Birmingham last night with my family, had a great evening, it just gets better, didnt want it to end. Even managed to shake the hands of both Myrna and Estelle, how thrilling is that!!
Andreas77 wrote on April 30, 2005
That's fantastic news!! How many people in the audience? I'm travelling from Oslo with my girldfrind and brother to see the show in London. Saw it in '99 in Oslo - fantastic: young crowd, the press loved it and everybody thought he was great!! This is the number one way to win over new Elvis fans, can't understand those of you who oppose this concert. Which of the songs worked best Jim? My only regret is that they should have included Bridge from On Tour instead of THWII.
Jim Semple wrote on April 30, 2005
I think most people would agree, that its the second half of the show, when the crowd really start going for it. Highlights for me were, Bridge Over Troubled Water, Suspicious Minds is truly awesome, My Way, American Trilogy, The Stamps singing Sweet Sweet Spirit, The Sweet Inspirations singing Inspiration, Polk Salad Annie, You've Lost That Feeling etc etc etc ! Don't get me wrong, the first half is excellent too, really is, but due to the brilliant songs in the second half, it is in my opinion much weaker. The only song I felt out of place, probably due to the frantic, continual wonderful music was ''I'll Remember You'', which is strange as its one of my favourites. Mind you, the band and orchestra need a slower song to get their well deserved breaths back ! On a scale of 1 to 10, i'll give it 15 !
NOSTAB wrote on April 30, 2005
The show at the NEC was superb, Andreas, I would estimate that of the 9,000/10,000 capacity, the tickets were 95% sold, just a few empty seats right at the back of the arena. My main concern was that of Ronnie Tutt being missing but beleive me, Paul Leim was abolsutely awesome, never missed a beat and plays comfortably as hard as Ronnie in his early 70's prime. Great to see the TCB guys, Joe Guercio, the Sweets and the Stamps.
Renan Augusto wrote on May 01, 2005
Sean Ryan, thanks for your comments. Brazilian fans do appreciate it and we hope we will see this concert here. Best Regards buddy.
TonyM wrote on May 01, 2005
Well guys, it was the three 'S' 's for me - Superb in Sheffield on Saturday! This was only the second time of seeing the production in 5 years but this one appeared to more magical than my first experience of seeing it inside the 'Big Red Shed' in Glasgow - otherwise known as the SECC, and as expected on that night in 2000 the acoustics didn't live up to much. But, Saturday night (April 30th) at Sheffield's Hallam FM Arena will hold a special memory as everything appeared to fall into place just nicely - the acoustics, the audience, the band, the 'Big Man', my joy and ...my tears...
Justtcb wrote on May 02, 2005
My friends and my 9 yr old son attended both Birmingham NEC (4 rows from the front) and Sheffield Arena (7 rows from the front) on Friday and Saturday (cos we're greedy haha) Both concerts were absolutely brilliant and and at time totally overwhelming. Managed to get some great pics. The TCB band were perfect and we couldn't of asked for more from them. A big congratulations to all concerned but a special thanks to all the fans that attended because they are so friendly, kind and considerate. They truely are the best in the world and I'm proud to part of such a great fan base.
Alanj wrote on May 10, 2005
Seen the show in Manchester(8th) and it was even better than the last show i seen there a few years back.The sound was amazing and the crowd were fantastic.The crowds response to The Wonder of You and Suspicious Minds was Brill as everyone in our section were on there feet dancing away.Still got the shiver down my spine when 2001 started!Amazing.Can't wait for the next tour!!!
Only Elvis wrote on May 10, 2005
Saw the show in Manchester on Sunday, and WOW WOW WOW!!!!!! I can't say enough about how fantastic this show was! I was tearful and my heart was pounding away when Elvis came on the screen, I had chills! The music was awesome, the band sounded so great. The crowd and the atmosphere were fantastic too. I would see this show again anyday. Got lots of cool souvenirs too, Proudly wore one of my concert tees to work yesterday and it certainly got noticed! Suspicious Minds was AWESOME! Also have to say Ed Enoch and the Stamps were great, he looks good and he sounds wonderful. And we had a guy in a jumpsuit down in front doing the same moves as Elvis, and from where I was sitting he was doing a pretty fair job! I don't generally like impersonators, but hey, if they love Elvis too, there ain't nothing wrong with that! Let em have their fun as long as they are respectful. Elvis Lives!!!!! TCB.