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Elvis Lives… Forever?

UK’s Rob Kingsley thrilled two packed houses at the NCPA this past weekend with his performance as Elvis Presley

Sunil Sampat Nov 10, 2016
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Rob Kingsley. Photo: Last Tour International

Rob Kingsley. Photo: Last Tour International/Flickr.com

In the realm of pop or rock music, Elvis Presley has to be a glorious exception; there appears to be no sell-by date for his music. Nor is he restricted by geographical boundaries. Elvis remains just as popular universally as he ever was. This is quite a remarkable phenomenon in a business where songs are promoted, demoted or eliminated on a weekly basis!

Well, Elvis showed up in Mumbai this past weekend and played twice on Sunday to full houses. Of course, it was a ‘bootleg’ Elvis. Rob Kingsley from the UK, brought to India by Número Uno Productions, was the Elvis in question. He was accompanied by a quartet of keyboard, lead guitar, drums, rhythm guitar and a backing vocalist. The concert at NCPA’s Jamshed Bhabha Theatre was one of two shows held on Sunday, both to packed houses.

‘Elvis’ was quite a reasonable facsimile of the great Mr. Presley in looks and attire. He also has a remarkable similarity in looks, with the charming Elvis smile! Kingsley has mastered the signature moves and mannerisms too, and when he sang all the Elvis evergreens — “Jailhouse Rock,” “Teddy Bear,” “Love me Tender,” “Blueberry Hill,” “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Heartbreak Hotel,” “It’s Now or Never,” “All Shook Up,” “Big Hunk of Love,” “See See Rider,” “Don’t be Cruel,” “Return to Sender,” “Are you Lonesome Tonight,” “Johnny Be Good,” “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” “Viva Las Vegas” and some more, he had the audience eating out of his hands.

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He sang the entire gamut at a stretch for about 90 minutes to a crowd totally involved in the performance. The jiving in the aisles, the singing along and other demonstrations of involvement were perhaps a novelty at the JBT, an auditorium accustomed to more highbrow stuff.

The question is: what is it about Elvis that makes him such an evergreen?
He is perhaps the biggest popular music superstar — with the possible exception of Frank Sinatra, and one wonders why this is the case. For example, every year, there are several contests for Elvis look (and sound)-alikes in several parts of the US and elsewhere in the world. His popularity is certainly not on the wane. The music of Elvis cuts across generations and the contemporary youth, always cynical about pop music from another era, also embrace Elvis’s music as their own. At the Sunday concert, the age groups went all the way from those in their seventies (or older) to teenagers, all lip-syncing to the range of popular Elvis songs.

Our assessment of this ‘evergreen’ phenomenon is that Elvis’s music is happy music, meant for dancing or listening. The songs are easy to remember and perform an allude to happy times. It is based on the boogie-woogie rhythm, which, in turn, comes directly from the blues. The blues, of course is the root of rock and jazz, and as some musician once observed: nothing satisfies like the blues. Maybe that is the reason for Mr. Presley’s immortality, or maybe one of you readers has the answer!

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