Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

January 21, 2008

Elvis Birthday Party Bash

Colonial Theatre, Pittsfield
January 19
By Eric Sutter

"We will all be received in Graceland"... so goes the line of the song by Paul Simon. The Elvis Birthday Bash starring Scot Bruce as the young Elvis and Mike Albert as Elvis of the 70s proved the spirit of Elvis Presley transcended the ranks of mortal fame. Since his death in 1977, this ever-changing 20th Century icon has survived and spawned countless Elvis impersonators to keep the Elvis mythical status growing in the new century.

Scot Bruce uncannily resembled the young Elvis dressed in black slacks, blue sports coat, black and white two-tone shoes and a pompadour haircut. Along with the 7 piece Big E Band, he strummed his Martin guitar and shook his hips to early hits including "Heartbreak Hotel", "Don't Be Cruel" and "Love Me Tender." Halfway through, he pared down to a trio and performed the first Sun singles, "That's All Right (Mama) and "Blue Moon of Kentucky." Other hits followed as the band rocked "A Fool Such As I" and Bruce crooned "Can't Help Falling In Love." They ended with the swivel of "Hound Dog" as Bruce swaggered like the Fifties Elvis rocker.

Mike Albert proved Elvis has survived in more than one form. Albert added a female back-up singer and celebrated his 70's Vegas showman Elvis. Dressed in a Tiger decorated white jumpsuit with bell bottoms he cut into "C.C. Ryder" and the smash from 1972, "Burning Love." Albert's charisma and ability to involve the audience proved to be a crowd pleaser. As he sang the ballad "Are You Lonesome Tonight" he beckoned a female to join him on stage for a sing and swing. His powerful voice lent itself well to "It's Now or Never" and "My Way." His versatile voice cried the "Steamroller Blues" and gospel "How Great Thou Art" equally well. During the swamp-rocker "Polk Salad Annie" he relished it's stop-start rhythm which gave him an opportunity to demonstrate his karate routines during the instrumental breaks while the exaggerated imagery of flashing lights worked it's magic. A couple of songs, "In the Ghetto" and "Suspicious Minds," pushed a strong emotional response during the Comeback Special segment of the show.

In true Vegas style, "Viva Las Vegas" veered into cabaret-style slickness with the ensemble dramatically successful. The closing "American Trilogy" was thrillingly loud but soothing as the American Flag descended on to the center of the stage above the entertainers. Happy 73rd Birthday, Elvis.