The greatest fanclub of Flanders, Elvis Matters, organized a show offering the full TCB-band, so including John Wilkinson. Unfortunately John isn’t able to play anymore, due to a giant stroke in the 80’s, as most of you know, but having them on stage together one more time is really something special.
Knowing the “EM”-festivities in the past, we headed in good mood towards Belgium to have a party. After some fooling around with a guy that painted his car Elvis-style, but made some terrible mistakes in song titles, and meeting up with old friends from all over Europe, it became about time for the show.
Before the show started the president of EM, Peter Verbruggen, awarded Al Dvorin the Elvis Matters Award for his "outstanding achievement in the Elvis world". John Wilkinson’s wife accepted the award on behalf of Al’s family. As you probably know, Al died in a tragic accident a couple of weeks ago and so we missed his great personality and stories in Belgium. Last year we received this award from Elvis Matters, and feel honoured to be listed on one list with Big Al Dvorin.
The band already got a standing ovation upon entering the stage, so the atmosphere was settled… we thought. Unfortunately EM sold the front row for higher prices (including a “meet and greet”) and due to some complaining by “non dancing” fans sitting on the front row after previous events, dancing in front of the stage was forbidden this time, where it was encouraged in the past. Although the TCB-band, Jenson Bloomer and the other members of Mondo Carne seem to love such reactions by the audience, it stayed a no-no this evening. Anyway, as much as we do not like that decision, we can understand it. The worst thing was that one of the “order” guys really behaved like a prison guard not able to handle the pressure and stress of his responsibilities. It gave a nasty taste to a lot of people.
Enough complaining, since this might give the idea that the evening was spoiled, but it wasn’t at all. The show itself was fine, with laughs, tears and of course great music. We were told Jenson Bloomer had some throat problems recently, but that was not really noticeable during the show. When Glen Hardin’s piano broke down he reacted promptly by doing a stand up comedian act that would make many professionals jealous. Glen himself did some nice additions to Jenson’s one man show, by impersonating Joe Guercio directing the TCB band. Perhaps the funniest thing was that it took the greatest guitar player in the world, James Burton to fix the piano. The first half of the show was one big party and some little minors like the piano problems could not take it down at all. Especially the bluesy songs like “Steamroller” and the medley “Reconsider Merry Christmas Baby” were outstanding.
James Burton even played his Dobro again on “Funny How Time Slips Away”, obviously not to his own satisfaction, but the crowd loved it and asked for more. JB gave it with his signature song “Johnny B” that got a driven treatment.
After the break it was time for the reunion moment in the show, and John Wilkinson came on stage to do some songs, among them of course “his” “Early Morning Rain”, “Party” and “His Latest Flame”. It was good to see the complete band on stage, only one guy was missing… but he will not make it to any reunion, but probably he was enjoying it on cloud #9, together with Big Al.
After a few songs and some memories Jenson Bloomer came back on stage to fire a couple of more great songs. “Polk Salad” highlighted both Jerry Scheff and Ronnie Tutt, while “An American Trilogy” brought an ovation for Mondo Carne’s keyboard-player John Anthony because of his “flute” solo and finally… they couldn’t hold the crowd away from the stage because it was “Suspicious Minds”-time. After “Can’t Help Falling In Love” we even got an encore in the form of a powerful “Mystery Train/ Tiger Man”.
All together we had another atomic evening at the VITO, and we are already looking forward to the next big EM event… “Elvis Classics II” next May, which you should attend whatever it takes.