25th Anniversary Concert
- DVD review -
At last Elvis fans get the chance to re-live the 25th Anniversary "Elvis The Concert" performance 'live from Memphis', August 2002.
Through the magic of modern technology, Elvis is reunited with his original TCB Band, back-up singers and musical director for a unique concert special.
"Elvis Lives"? - Well, enough to give you goose-bumps!
At last Elvis fans get the chance to re-live the 25th Anniversary "Elvis The Concert" performance. This has been kicking around on bootleg, filmed by an audience member, for a long time but it was very poor quality & lacked any professionalism that this DVD brings.
To be honest, if a DVD can give me goose-bumps of excitement & anticipation within the first minute what more need I add?
Even before Elvis majestically appears, walking 'on-stage' as if he has never left us, there is the thrill of the Concert Hall darkness & the Black Limousine slowly crawling through the crowd towards the stage.
OK, so I admit that I was at this very concert, but with the impressive Surround-Sound (a real key aspect of this DVD) and clever editing, the producers have created a fabulous atmosphere.
It is all so cleverly edited, with Elvis glancing over to look at the musicians nowadays. There is very clever use of Glen D Hardin at the piano looking down as he follows Elvis' very performance on his TV monitor - and you'd swear that Elvis really was there.
It's like a magician's sleight-of-hand in keeping the suspension of disbelief. And it does work very well, mixing cameras in the crowd with the interaction on stage along with the genuine footage of Elvis.
Of course I do have a few grumbles. There are Band interruptions between the songs when then look back & talk about the "surrealness" of the Concert experience - while at the same time actually destroying that moment of surrealness for the viewer!
And I can't tell you HOW ANNOYING it is when the band interrupts the songs themselves. Unbelievably, and for no reason, they butt in to the middle of 'Are You Lonesome Tonight' (Yes, the TTWII unreleased sit-down version!), 'Johnny B. Goode', hell, even 'Suspicious Minds'!
But, while hardly forgivable, I will overlook these aberrations since pacing of the DVD/Concert is fabulous and the interaction between Elvis and the Band is fantastic. It is 90 minutes of heaven with Elvis pumping out all your favourite songs.
If you’ve seen ‘Elvis In Concert’ then you know all the tracks. However there are exciting highlights are the new addition of the astounding Gospel numbers, 'How Great Thou Art' combined with 'If I Can Dream' that feature The Jordanaires plus Millie Kirkham, The Imperials, The Stamps & The Sweet Inspirations. It is an absolute stunner.
And let's not forget the pure emotion of 'American Trilogy' being performed right there in Memphis.
The entire band looks like they are having great fun, although you know that they must be playing for their lives. They aren’t that young any more & Elvis isn't going to slow down!
James Burton glows in his fabulous red waistcoat, Glen Hardin has a wonderful smile, Ronnie Tutt and Jerry Scheff are as solid as ever, while Myrna Smith looks the same age as she did in the original 'Aloha.'
And look at those Sweet Inspirations get up and dance!
Unfortunately EPE do not own the rights to 'That's The Way It Is' so there is a noticeable drop in vision quality (a sort of haziness) when those images are used. You cannot expect the TTWII Special Edition DVD quality. However having watched it several times you do become lost in the moment and it's easy to ignore. Hell, when they are pumping out 'Steamroller' and 'Polk Salad' in thumping surround-sound you feel that you are there!
And what a glorious vocal Elvis produces on 'Bridge Over Troubled Water’. As Ronnie Tutt explains, in the Bonus Segment, with Elvis' original vocal isolated and using all the new audio equipment they can achieve more nowadays, with a greater dynamic sound, than when it was first performed. (Remember that in 1969 Elvis & the Band had to use The Internationals built-in PA speakers for amplification!)
The 30 minute Bonus Segment is also a worthy addition. It features The Imperials Joe Mosheo, Joe Guercio, Ronnie Tutt and Gordon Stoker all reminiscing about what it was like working with Elvis originally and their take on this new concert experience.
Joe Guercio notes (as we expected) that The Las Vegas Dinner Shows were "A 'yawning concert' with people eating steak and clinking glasses. The Midnight Shows were much more more focussed."
Ronnie Tutt explains more about how they produced the new show, as well as some nice asides about Elvis' Karate training. There is also a great moment from Gordon Stoker when he remarks, "We look good for old people!"
More EIN Technical Notes:
- Elvis' original vocal track has to be fed through a "gated switch" so as to eliminate the background sound of the original band playing coming back through his microphone when he is not singing. On a good Hi-Fi this is at times noticeable as Elvis' vocal track cuts in & out. It is very obvious on ‘The Introductions’ for instance when there is no other extraneous noise. I have never observed this at the Concert Event itself but that is because you are surrounded by 1000s of noisy fans. You may begin to notice this at other times during the DVD.
- At the genuine "25th Anniversary Concert" Act 1 focused on the 50s’ & 60s’ TV and Film footage of Elvis and also included the wonderful 'Gospel segment'. Unfortunately technical issues like early TV quality, the lack of separate Elvis Vocal track, as well as the budgetary limitation of EPE owning no rights to the Elvis movies means that the majority of the original Act 1 is missing from this DVD. Luckily for us, the highlight of the Gospel segment has been included.
If you were at the 25th Anniversary 'Elvis The Concert', or want to re-live the experience of seeing any of these fabulous events, you have to buy this DVD, it is sensational.
Verdict: If you succumb to the moment, then the wonderful mixture of Multi-Screen editing and band interaction makes this DVD technically more impressive than being at the Concert itself, especially if you have a surround-sound system. The track selection and editing is extremely clever and at times it is hard to believe that Elvis isn't really there. Any DVD that can give me immediate goose-bumps has to get a high recommendation. ELVIS LIVES, yes indeed.
DVD reviewed by Piers Beagley for EIN, October 2006.
Copyright Elvis Information Network 2006.
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Click here for 2006 'Elvis Presley In Concert' information.
Click here for 2006 'Elvis Presley In Concert' review.
Click here for EIN's interview with James Burton
Click here for EIN's interview with Sweet Inspiration Myrna Smith.
- Copyright Elvis Information Network 2006.
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