BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in: Entertainment
Front Page 
UK Politics 
TV and Radio 
New Media 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Monday, 25 January, 1999, 08:49 GMT
Elvis virtually live in concert
Elvis in concert
One night only - Elvis to take to the stage in London
He may have been dead for nearly 22 years - but that was not enough to stop Elvis Presley from doing his first ever concert in Britain on Saturday.

Thanks to the marvels of technology, footage of the King on giant screens was mixed with live performances on stage from his original band - some of whom are now aged in their 70s.

More than 10,000 Elvis fans were granted the first ever sight of their hero on the British stage at London's Wembley Arena. Tickets for what was effectively his first-ever concert tour out of North America sold out in three days last October.

The stuff of dreams
Brian Quinn, a long-time member of the Elvis Presley fan club, said it was something British fans have only been able to dream about up until now.

Speaking before the concert he said: "I've waited 41 years for this - as have the other Elvis fans in this country and it's going to be a tremendous show. He may be dead but he isn't dead in spirit and his talent lives on."

Getting the show on the road

Some might say die-hard Elvis fans need little persuasion to convince them that Elvis is alive, however the show's designers went all out to make the concert as authentic feeling as possible.

He might be spotted in the crowd
"There are absolutely no Elvis impersonators involved in this concert," promoter Paul Savident said. "That's not to say there won't be hundreds of lookalikes in the crowd though."

The producers edited together a collection of Elvis' finest concert performances on film. All the sound except for the King's vocals were removed and the images projected onto one screen measuring 60ft by 40ft and two others measuring 30ft by 40ft.

On stage a 16-piece orchestra and Elvis' former band members performed live in tune to the video.

All in the best possible taste
Elvis performed, talked to the audience and made entrances and exits. He introduced and even interacted with the live players. Sound creepy? Not at all says the musical director, Joe Guercio.

"I don't find it creepy - not creepy at all. It was emotional for the first rehearsal but it wasn't creepy," he said.

Just like the real thing

Buried deep in a thronging crowds, concert-goers are well accustomed to watching giant video screens to feel close to their idols.

In Elvis - The Concert, the King's presence on screen was said to be so strong and his interaction with the band members so seamless, that a few songs into the show it was easy to forget that Elvis was not actually there.

The King never performed outside of North America
"The feeling is real. With Elvis is on screen with the original band behind there's a feeling like it was - it's exactly how it used to be." Joe Guicero said.

The show was first staged in the United States last year, including three sold-out performances at Radio City Music Hall and Elvis' return to the Las Vegas Hilton.

Paul Savident said the show "went down overwhelmingly well".

"No-one has said 'that's odd or weird or sick'. Everyone has been totally up for the whole thing," he said.

The one-off London concert kicks off a European season - but promoters say Elvis could live on to come back to Britain for a nationwide tour.

Rosie Millard speaks to musician Joe Guercio and Elvis fan Brian Quinn
BBC Arts correspondent Rosie Millard: Elvis makes his digital debut
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Entertainment stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Entertainment stories