Elvis To 'Perform' In Memphis Tonight
Yesterday (Aug. 16) marked the 24th anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley. Since that time, hundreds of thousands of fans have marked the annual somber occasion during "Elvis Week" with a candleliYesterday (Aug. 16) marked the 24th anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley. Since that time, hundreds of thousands of fans have marked the annual somber occasion during "Elvis Week" with a candlelight vigil to Presley's gravesite at the Graceland mansion in Memphis. But tonight, many of those same fans may feel as if Presley never left the building at all.
"Elvis - The Concert" is a state-of-the-art concert production featuring Presley's original band members from the 1970s, including J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet, the TCB (Taking Care of Business) Band, the Imperials, and musical conductor Joe Guercio. As Elvis "sings" his hits on a large screen above the stage (recordings that were drawn from career-spanning live performances), the musicians play live onstage behind him. And according to Guercio, who worked with Elvis from 1970 to 1977, the show isn't different than any artist currently on tour.
"It's phenomenal," he says by phone from Nashville. "It's hard to explain to people, but if you go to any concert today, if you're not sitting on top of the stage, you're watching screens. It's the same vibe. He's alive in the building with this, he really is."
The concert initially was partially performed at Graceland in 1994 during Elvis Week and again in 1997. Guercio says that the show needed some fine tuning but, having worked on "Unforgettable," Natalie Cole's Grammy-winning duet with her late father, Nat King Cole, he knew it would work.
"It works because of the energy," he says emphatically. "And the energy, the momentum, it's unbelievable. It's bombastic. The thing that people have to understand is that there is no imitator up there. This is the original cast. There is nothing off-Broadway about this show."
The show has toured throughout the world and has drawn acclaim throughout, even being named by the Guinness Book of World Records as "the first live tour starring a performer who is no longer living." But it also has seen its share of skeptics, thinking the show is in bad taste or a blatant cash grab.
"I would say come to the show," he says. "We played Radio City Music Hall and we had one of those so-called 'wise-ass' interviewers. He asked, 'What do you think Elvis would say to you today if he walked onstage and saw what you were doing?' He'd probably say 'Slow it down, boys.' He's 25 years older!"
According to Presley's official Web site, the Memphis show this evening marks the final performance of "Elvis - The Concert." However, Guercio believes the concert will return next year to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Presley's passing.