Thursday, May 07, 2009

Elvis Lives

I've seen Elvis loads of times and I've never seen a bad gig. When he played in Bristol with "The Confederates", a backing band who seemed to be only doing it for money, he leterally pulled the audience to their feet and made the souless Colston Hall seem intimate. So, Elvis and a string quartet - what would that be like? I'd never heard "The Juliet Letters", the album he recorded with the Brodsky Quartet many years ago, but I seemed to recall it had been quite badly received, so was curious.

St George's is a small venue - 500 souls I guess - used normally for classical recitals - I've only been to the venue rarely, once memorably to sees Ronald Smith perform Alkan's "Concerto for solo piano". Elvis and the quartet came on stage and opened with "Accidents Will Happen" - I think the first song I ever saw him play on the "Armed Forces" tour in Coventry - excellent - a very good arrangement and a wonderful reinterpretation - I was knocked out by the quality of the musicianship. The evening covered a mixture of material. The Brodsky Quartet were showed at their stongest on pieces from The Juliet Letters - wonderful stuff. Of the material Elvis did with the quartet ,"Pills and Soap" and "Shipbuilding" stood out for me. But for me the highlights of Elvis's performance were the four songs he played solo, unamplified - all new and a couple of them never performed live before. The fourth song was great - Elvis started a little tentatively - unrehearsed - banging his foot on the stage dramatically and atmospherically - as he felt his way into the accoustic of St George's his performance grew and the song ended masterfully. Sorry for those who were there but missed this because they had to get back for the babysitter before he finished the fourth encore. Great show, great performers - and Elvis and the Brodskys seemed to enjoy the performance as much as the audience.

Perfect? No. Alison would have had to have been there.
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