Elvis: King of the World
Festival Theatre, Friday 1st February 2019
(Reviewed by John Glennie)
This was a mega-concert with a great band, choir, backing singers and Aussie Jack Gatto performing as Elvis Presley. The show also included James Cupples singing Tom Jones. Elvis and Tom reached the top of their music genres – legends both who became friends and performed together once at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. James Cupples, of The Voice fame, joins Jack Gatto to help recreate that famous moment.
The show was created by Australia’s John St Peeters and has played around the globe. Gatto has an exceptional voice and has been described by Elvis’ first cousin as having the closest voice to the King they’d experienced. His voice and performance was flawless, with his multiple costumes being made by Elvis’ designer.
The first half of the show had many flashbacks on the big screen to Elvis’ early days including classics like Heartbreak Hotel and Have I Told You Lately That I Love You. There was some great video footage with longer interludes as Gatto went off stage to change costumes. A video clip was an interview with Tom Jones and how they became friends, eventually performing on stage together. At this stage Cupples entered the stage and did a song with Gatto while the video of their live show was playing on screen.
Gatto departed the stage and Cupples sang a number of Tom Jones classics including What’s New Pussycat and Delilah. Cupples had St Peeters playing the ‘squeeze-box’ – could have done without that as had no relevance to the show or Elvis! St Peeters was introduced as the conductor, but didn’t really do much of that. He spent too much time trying to be a ‘show-pony’ and we found him extremely distracting and annoying. It would have been much better if he hadn’t been given a microphone too as he was very loud when on it – at least he thought he was funny.
After the interval it was, thankfully, all Elvis as we traced through his career and more costume changes. The band and backup singers were excellent, but the sound mix virtually cut out the 20-odd choir. Apart from two quieter songs relating to Elvis’ divorce from Priscilla – Always On My Mind and Separate Ways – we weren’t even aware that there was a choir so they probably weren’t needed. The only other song where the choir could be clearly heard was the final (Gospel) one for the night – sorry, forgotten its title!
Overall, a great night celebrating the King with Jack Gatto’s voice doing Elvis proud. James Cupples also has an excellent voice, but it wasn’t as close to Tom Jones as the Gatto-Elvis correlation. It was basically a guy with a good voice singing Tom Jones songs and that section could have been significantly shorter so as to give us more of Elvis.