Elvis & Royal Philharmonic Orchestra - in Concert
London 02 Review - 2016
- 2016 Concert review by Brian Quinn -
The general media have been very positive in their reviews of the new 'Elvis & the RPO' UK concert tour.
It is amazing that almost 40 years after his death, Elvis Presley is still getting fully-deserved standing ovations at packed arenas.
Cleverly put-together, the interaction between an On-Screen Elvis and The Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra works better than many expected.
Once again the new Elvis shows have such an impact that reviews note, "So realistic fans felt Elvis really was in the building! "
Elvis super-fan and EIN contributor Brian Quinn was at the London O2 concert and reports back in detail on the lengthy concert.
Review of 'Elvis In Concert' at The 02 Arena - 23rd November, 2016
Setting The Scene
The ‘If I Can Dream’ Concert Tour in the UK came about through the tremendous sales success of the album of the same name it having achieved 1 million and 77 thousand sales/downloads/streams to date (Triple Platinum).
The idea for the concept of making the album and subsequent Concert Tour with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra came from one of the Producers, Don Reedman, over two years ago, who in conjunction with his cohort Producer Nick Patrick contacted Priscilla Presley to obtain her approval. This she readily gave as she knew that one of Elvis’ fondest wishes was to sing with a full concert orchestra – something he was never able to achieve in his lifetime.
Further, Priscilla wanted to show the general public that Elvis was more than just a rock ‘n’ roll singer and prevent him being labelled as such. Hence the tracks on the album (and on the follow-up one ‘The Wonder Of You’) were carefully chosen to show how eclectic Elvis really was, singing in many different musical genres.
Before reviewing each song, as great as they are, they come with caveats. The main footage of Elvis on the big screen only features him to create the illusion that he is actually singing with the RPCO and therefore the TTWII footage, wherever possible, does not show the TCB Band/Joe Guercio Orchestra or Sweet Inspirations/Imperials for obvious reasons.
Further, although much of the footage is magnificent and the clearest I have ever seen, some of it is not, particularly that shown on the smaller screens.
I hope that this matter can be ironed out before the European and Australian/New Zealand Tours in 2017.
What also amazed me was the album which the Concert was named after was not on sale at any of the venues other than the De-Luxe box set at a mere snip of £100!! I actually saw someone buy one!! TWOY album was on sale but even copies of these were placed on their side on the shelves so you could not see what album it was. I suppose SONY (UK) wanted people to buy the current album but the amount of sales they must have lost for IICD must have been huge. Needless to say, Elvis’ main chart rivals at this time Michael Ball/Alfie Boe and Little Mix were both on UK tours and both had their albums readily on sale.
Interestingly, on the Ball/Boe Tour they feature a Tribute to Elvis by singing three of his songs to close the first half of their concert and show great enthusiasm for his being back to No.1 on the UK album charts. Naturally, there were the usual T-Shirts and other Elvis paraphernalia on sale but no books or DVD’s/Videos.
Again a missed opportunity for people, particularly non Elvis fans, to buy these influential CD’s and Videos.
The Concert Programme cost £15 and is a first rate production measuring 12” X 12” encased in a black cardboard slip case with a rarely seen early sixties picture of Elvis on the front cover. The photographs throughout the rest of the Programme are ones most fans know and love from all eras of his career. There are also six pages devoted to the RPCO.
Overture – If I Can Dream
Welcome – Priscilla Presley
The Orchestra commences playing ‘If I Can Dream’ softly and then Priscilla enters the stage to welcome the crowd. She explains why Elvis is still so popular today and puts it down to the feeling he puts into his music and, of course, fan loyalty. She outlines that Elvis did not just sing a song he lived it.
She also mentioned that two months prior to his death in 1977 his management was in talks for Elvis to do a European Tour but sadly events overtook this.
She also mentioned the amazing sales success of both Elvis/RPO albums and thanks the fans for buying them.
Further, she stated that Elvis never took himself seriously and this endeared him to his audiences. She remembers that when he attracted much female attention on stage, he would turn around and smile at the band members.
As we all know, when Elvis used to kiss the female members in his audience, he often used to quip “Tough way to make a living boys”.
Priscilla then leaves the stage stating that she will be back.
The Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Robin Smith, then waits until the Elvis footage from the Aloha Show appears on the main screen.
This took a considerable time to appear and was the harbinger of several other instances of orchestra and footage not being entirely synchronized. The opening of the song is as we recognise it from the IICD album.
The Orchestra sounds great and the footage is as we all know. At the closure of the song when Elvis thrusts his guitar out to the side, the Orchestra are about five seconds behind him.
This aspect of lining up footage with Orchestra needs to be ironed out prior to the forthcoming 2017 Tours. Of course the TCB Band during their concerts had this down to a fine art but the RPO, being such a large orchestra, were bound to have teething difficulties.
On a first outing I am surprised they did so well.
Personally, I have seen the previous versions of Elvis in Concert with the TCB Band some 26 times and I can honestly say that the quality of the footage on the main screen this time around is some of the best I have seen to date. The footage on the smaller side screens was not so clear on several occasions. However, for me, this did not really affect the overall performance of the songs which sounded great. There were also two other small screens at both extremes of the stage which were for live feed of the Orchestra and members of the audience. There was a professional cameraman on the right side of the stage co-ordinating this. Whether the show was filmed in its entirety or just for the reasons mentioned above is open to speculation.
We will have to wait and see. Professional footage would greatly enhance any future TV advertising.
Welcome To My World
The footage is from the Aloha Show and is featured only on the main screen. Nice standard version with the RPCO backing strings coming to the fore.
Again from the ‘Aloha Concert’ – A great bluesy feel to this one showing off the talents of the RPCO and proving once and for all that Elvis could really sing the blues.
The drumming is outstanding on this song.
The version from ‘Aloha’ was featured on screen. It opened the same as on the IICD album then morphed into a very Sinatra-ish style of arrangement with plenty of brass being utilised, especially in the middle of the song. Michael Buble was not featured.
Nice contemporary feel.
You Gave Me A Mountain
Another ‘Aloha’ performance which was not featured on the standard TWOY album but is on the Deluxe- Box Set. Really powerful performance from The King and the RPCO back him to the hilt.
You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me
Elvis on the big and left of centre screens singing the version we all know and love from TTWII. Excellent singing and movement from Elvis with first rate backing from the RPCO.
I Just Can’t Help Believing
Elvis on the big screen singing this great B.J. Thomas original. Strangely, some of the footage was not as clear as the rest of the footage throughout the Concert. The two smaller screens were left blank during this performance. I particularly like the string section of the RPCO on this one, especially after the part where Elvis stops and restarts. It is great to see this footage again as it was only featured once or twice on the first few TCB Band ‘Elvis In Concert’ Tours. It was also left out of TTWII (Special Edition).
A wonderful song and a great fan favourite.
Again the footage is from TTWII. A song Elvis obviously loved singing and one that the RPCO can really go to town on. A crowd favourite which brought many to their feet at the finish.
One of my personal favourites from the whole concert.
You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling
Footage from TTWII. However, this time apart from Elvis singing on the main screen there was a further larger curtain in the background so one got a fuller picture of the original performance featuring the TCB band and Sweet Inspirations/Imperials.
Priscilla appears on stage again and talks about how Elvis changed when in the Army in that he matured along with his voice. She mentions that he wasn’t sure if his fans would still like him when he returned home and hence he constantly practised his vocal chords. She mentions that Elvis was only 21 when he recorded ‘Don’t and that it was a sexy song for the time.
‘It’s Now Or Never’ was mentioned next and then ‘Can’t Help Falling In love’ which she stated that Elvis always closed his shows in Vegas with as he was singing it especially for his fans who had stuck with him throughout the years. She then thanked the fans for being so loyal to him.
Her monologue then leads into the following three songs:
Obviously there is no footage for this song and instead a black and white head and shoulders picture of Elvis is shown on the big screen (similar to that shown on the front cover of Peter Guralnicks’s Book ‘Careless Love’. Again a nice arrangement and another crowd pleaser.
It’s Now Or Never
Of course this song is ideally suited to a Concert Orchestra and the RPCO did not disappoint with Elvis’ voice rising magnificently throughout and particularly at the end. No film footage of course but it had to be featured as it is Elvis’ biggest selling single recording.
Can’t Help Falling In Love
No film footage shown either from ‘Blue Hawaii’; ’68 TV Special or TTWII. An opportunity missed here I feel. However, the RPCO arrangement on this song is beautiful. I especially like the way it is brought to its climax with the string section coming to the fore. One of Elvis’ most famous songs and the crowd loved it.
In the Ghetto
Elvis’ message song, and one that is a crowd favourite, could not fail to please. Footage from TTWII featuring ghetto scenes. Beautifully sung and sincere. Made even more poignant with the RPCO backing. A real classic in every sense of the word.
How Great Thou Art
Wonderful performance as featured in ‘Elvis On Tour’ but with the power of the RPCO behind Elvis which gives me goose-bumps, especially at the finale when gives it his all and smiles. This has always been a personal favourite of mine and is one of my top three performances in the whole Concert. Gospel was always Elvis’ favourite musical genre and he never fails to please with such songs. Great audience applause at the end. This is what makes Elvis so different to other classic rock ‘n’ roll singers – he could sing in all genres with conviction.
Bridge Over Troubled Water
Another wonderful song from TTWII. Again made for the arrangements with such an outstanding orchestra. This is the type of performance that can convert non fans. In hindsight it was truly prophetic for the filmed concerts ‘NBC TV Special’ ‘TTWII’, ‘Elvis On Tour’ and ‘Aloha From Hawaii’ to have been made during his ‘Comeback’ period. We could not have such concerts as the current one without them. Of course there should have been more professionally shot concerts from 1969 – 1971 particularly but unfortunately it was not to be.
Following the intermission, Priscilla makes a surprise appearance to walk along the front row to mix and talk with some of the fans, young and old. What was surprising about this Concert was the amount of people from Europe in attendance including, Norway, Sweden, France, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Ireland and many other countries. The first three or four people she talked to were from other countries and when she finally found one from the UK they got a big round of applause. After speaking to a very young person she gestured to the crowd “This is what we want – more young people”. She came over very natural and did not overstay her welcome.
Priscilla enters the stage once more, sits down on a stool and relates the stories behind the private film footage shown on the big screen. There is nothing that the avid fan has not seen before with footage of Gladys and Vernon cleaning snow from the Pink Cadillac; Christmas time with baby Lisa; on holiday in Hawaii; the Wedding footage and several more. She came across well and genuinely liked remembering the stories behind the footage including some interesting little snippets we had not heard before. Following this she leaves the stage.
The first thing one notices following the intermission is that the volume of the Orchestra seems to have risen by a couple of decibels. This sound level is retained throughout the rest of the Concert. Of course experience has shown that during intermission many will have had a couple of drinks and become somewhat louder, losing their vocal inhibitions. On this point it is so annoying for people during the concert to go for drinks to bring back to their seats. It is unnecessary, disrupts the concert experience and blocks peoples’ view albeit temporarily. I am surprised that venue management allow people to do this.
The addition of this footage from the ’68 Special was a most pleasant surprise. What was even more surprising was the backing by the RPCO which was great and really rocked. The drummer was outstanding in his Perspex cage immediately facing the Maestro Robin Smith. The lead guitarist, although no James Burton, was an excellent player. All on stage were really enjoying this black leather segment and particularly later on during ‘Blue Suede Shoes’.
That’s All Right
Footage from TTWII and The RPCO are in full flight for this one. Members of the Orchestra can be seen enjoying themselves, clapping hands etc. and standing up and dancing on the spot. The cello players were spinning their instruments around in faithful Bill Black style. Great fun.
Performance from TTWII. As we all know Elvis sang this song in Vegas and on tour because he had to please the crowd. However, it is extremely short and personally I could have done without it.
Other included oldies such as Don’t Be Cruel, Heartbreak Hotel and All Shook Up are similar throwaways.
Are you Lonesome Tonight?
Whilst this performance is also from Vegas 1969 and short, it is a crowd pleaser as it shows Elvis’ sense of humour to the full with his ‘bald head’ comment.
It is a real tragedy that the ‘Laughing Version’ was never captured on film.
That would have been amazing to see.
Blue Suede Shoes
Footage from the ’68 TV Special and Elvis in black leather on his feet rocking at his best.
On the large screen it looks much better than on a TV screen.
As mentioned earlier, the RPCO and crowd alike were really getting into this one. Outstanding.
Footage from the ’68 TV Special where Elvis sings this in his black leather outfit sitting on the steps at the side of the stage flanked by two female fans. Elvis looks great and the RPCO give it a special feel.
Love Me Tender
Film footage from the film of the same name. Always a great song and simple backing from the RPCO which does not detract from it. Nice and original.
When one considers Elvis was only 21 when he sang this it is astounding the feeling he puts into it.
Great nostalgia for many in the audience.
I’ll Be Home For Christmas
A surprise addition to the set-list. No doubt included as a sample of what is rumoured to be the next Elvis/RPCO album – a Christmas one.
This version came across very well and many people have commented since seeing the concert how well they liked it.
In my opinion it definitely improves on the original version.
The Wonder Of You
Footage from TTWII. Elvis in top form of course and the backing from the RPCO is superlative.
Top UK Fashion Model, Kate Moss, always a big Elvis fan, has made a video especially to promote ‘The Wonder Of You’ single from the Elvis/RPO album released in the UK on December 16th in an attempt to get it to No.1 for Christmas. I hope she succeeds. However, the track will have strong competition.
The original version is shown from TTWII with Elvis shaking his body complete with arm thrusts at the end. Unfortunately, the arm thrusts were not synchronised properly with the RPCO and Elvis’ powerful ending came some five seconds before them.
Having said that the song was the signal for fans to get up and dance in their seats. This has always been, what I consider to be Elvis’ greatest stage performance.
The 02 crowd loved it and it got a standing ovation. It is a great experience to soak up the atmosphere of so many Elvis fans enjoying themselves and I say to fans who have not attended one of these ‘In Concert’ shows to do so as soon as possible. They are an experience to behold and like no other.
I cannot even comprehend what it would have been like if Elvis had been at the 02 in 1970!!!
What Now My Love
A pleasant surprise this one and several people have stated that it was one of their favourites from the whole show. Not often featured, the footage from the Aloha Show showcases Elvis’ vocal range and power. Some great side shots of his face.
The ending was magnificent with Elvis giving it his all as were the RPCO.
Great applause from the audience.
Big Hunk O’ Love
Innovative start by the RPCO and straight into Elvis at his rocking best. Performance footage from TTWII.
This one really rocks along and many in the audience were dancing to it.
For me, this is the highlight of the whole concert and certainly the one with the best crowd reaction (although ‘Suspicious Minds’ gives it a close run). The footage is from the Aloha concert.
The whole Arena was lit up with people turning on their mobile phones and most people on their feet waving their arms and singing along. At the end, the performance got a lengthy standing ovation and justifiably so.
What is so prophetic about this song is that Elvis’ truth is still ‘marching on’ 40 years after his untimely death.
One fan was waving a large Confederate Flag during this. Tremendous performance.
If I Can Dream
This song closes the concert, being a crowd favourite and title of the first Elvis/RPO Album. Also the sentiments are most suitable in today's turbulent world.
Priscilla returns to the stage to thank the RPCO for their magnificent efforts and also the crowd for their enthusiasm.
It must be said the RPCO were amazing and led by Maestro Robin Smith who was obviously enjoying every minute of it waving his arms about like a windmill. Great fun.
Overall a great concert. The combination of Elvis and The Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra are a force to be reckoned with and of course Elvis fans enmasse cannot be matched. Their enthusiasm after so many years is amazing to behold. Every now and then we all need reminding just how great our man really was and there is no better way than to experience him in concerts of this ilk.
Credit must also be given to the vocal trio of two females and one male who had excellent voices and were obviously enjoying every minute of it. The outstanding musicians for me were the drummer, pianist and guitarist. To those who say I may just as well stay at home and watch a video do not really get it.
The atmosphere, sound and crowd enthusiasm cannot be repeated at home. For those who have yet to see this Concert you are in for a real treat. Enjoy!
- As a footnote the above review is taken purely from memory and I apologise in advance if it is not entirely accurate. It is also my own personal review of the Concert and may differ to other people’s recollections or opinions.
Review by Brian Quinn.
-Copyright EIN December 2016 - DO NOT COPY -
EIN Website content © Copyright the Elvis Information Network.
Click to comment on this review -
EIN sincerely thanks Brian Quinn for this great review.
|Elvis & RPO Tour live in UK: The Elvis with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra tour kicked off at the Hydro, Glasgow on November 17.
Priscilla has been at the concerts to present the introduction and finale.
Reports back from fans are very good so far. Two video screens are used, one in front featuring Elvis close-up while a second larger "Cinema-screen" is used behind the orchestra for extra videos.
The set-list includes several surprises including, 'Don't', 'Love Me Tender' using movie footage and even 'I'll Be Home For Christmas'.
The sound of Elvis and the orchestra was superb.
Brian Quinn will report back for EIN on the London concert.
Below is the setlist
|Overture - If I Can Dream
Welcome - Priscilla Presley
Welcome To My World
You Gave Me A Mountain
You Don't Have To Say You Love Me
I Just Can't Help Believing
You've Lost That Loving Feeling
It's Now Or Never
I Can't Help Falling In Love
In The Ghetto
How Great Thou Art
Bridge Over Troubled Water
Trouble / Guitar Man
|That's Alright Mama
Don't be Cruel
Are You Lonesome Tonight
All Shook Up
Blue Suede Shoes
Love Me Tender
I'll Be Home For Christmas
The Wonder Of You
What Now My Love
Big Hunk 0' Love
| 'The Wonder Of You' Elvis Presley With The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra: You can Order the CD or vinyl versions now through Amazon or AmazonUK. EIN has been informed that the "Deluxe box-set" and vinyl versions will however not be released until December 2, 2016
The CD versions will be out world-wide - October 21, 2016
The Wonder Of You: Elvis Presley With The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra presents the iconic artist’s unmistakable voice and most dramatic original performances augmented with lush new orchestral accompaniment. Recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London with acclaimed producers Don Reedman and Nick Patrick, the album spans a variety of musical styles that Elvis embraced, from rock and gospel to country and ballads. Featuring beloved Presley classics along with several surprises, standout tracks include a sultry new version of “A Big Hunk O’ Love,” the glorious “Amazing Grace,” the heartfelt emotion of “Kentucky Rain” and a stunning new take on the classic “Always On My Mind.” The new album is the follow-up to the global phenomenon 'If I Can Dream' released in 2015.
'The Wonder Of You: Elvis Presley With The Royal Philharmonic' VINYL release is presented in beautiful gatefold packaging and pressed on 150g vinyl.
'The Wonder Of You: Elvis Presley With The Royal Philharmonic' DELUXE Edition includes 3 additional tracks on CD, two, 150 gram LPs in a gatefold package, a poster suitable for framing and a 12 page booklet, all housed in a 12”x 12” lift off box.
'The Wonder Of You' Elvis with the RPO - In-depth CD Review: It is forty years since Elvis Presley entered a recording studio and he seems very reluctant to record anything new. So in terms of releasing a "new" album of Elvis material the topic has always been a tricky one. After the massive 2015 success of "Elvis with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra" and ‘If I Can Dream’ the follow-up was inevitable and 'The Wonder Of You' recently achieved Number One in the UK album charts.
But can a follow-up really be as impressive - and do the true Elvis fans have to approve of these on-going fake "Revisions"?
Click here as EIN's Piers Beagley and Bryan Gruszka are back again to cause "Double-trouble" and supply a very detailed review, discovering what's good and bad...
And HAVE YOUR SAY - what do you think of the new album? Are we wrong in our opinions?
(CD Reviews, Source;ElvisInfoNet)
See EIN review of 'Aloha From Hawaii' 40th Anniversary' release
See EIN review of 'Prince From Another Planet’
See EIN review of 'A Boy From Tupelo'
See EIN review of 'Young Man With The Big Beat'.
See EIN review of 'Elvis Is Back!' Legacy Edition review:
See EIN review of 'The Complete Elvis Presley Masters' in-depth Review
See EIN review of 'On Stage' 40th Anniversary LEGACY in-depth review:
See EIN review of From Elvis In Memphis (40th Anniversary Legacy Edition)
See EIN review of 'I Believe' BMG Gospel set.
See EIN review of 'The Complete '68 Comeback Special' CD Review: