- 17 Aug 17
General relativity, the geometric theory of gravitation, explains how the curvature of spacetime causes gravity by exerting a force on passing objects. The orbits of planets around stars, like our own Earth around the Sun, prove that spacetime is curved. Otherwise, planets would just travel in straight lines. In theory then, this bend could be turned into a loop, allowing time travel.
It all looks so simple written down, but Hot Press still can’t get that crappy DeLorean that we bought off a lad in Bray to run right. So, alas, we cannot go back to the plush surroundings of the Hilton in the Las Vegas of the seventies, or to NBC’s Burbank, California studio in 1968, or even further, to Shreveport, Louisiana in 1954, to witness the Hayride broadcast. What is an Elvis Presley fan, with only the most basic grasp of theoretical physics, to do?
Help is at hand in the form of Kevin Doyle and his The Way It Was Orchestra, and the good people at Dublin’s Grand Social, who offered a fine tribute to the king on the 40th anniversary of his passing. Hot Press has caught Kevin’s show a few times over the years and, as anyone who squeezed themselves into a dangerously packed show in Jimmie’s Juke Joint at last year’s Electric Picnic will tell you, there is no finer ambassador for the glorious music of the Memphis Flash on these islands.
Tonight’s show starts in a surprising manner, however. Doyle takes to the stage in his civilian clothes, there’s not a quiff or a jumpsuit in sight. At first this seems bizarre and disappointing, but in forcing people to concentrate on the music being played and sung, it proves to be effective. Doyle’s voice is a velvety thing of wonder and the orchestra, which includes a full brass section as well as a compliment of backing singers, must be in rehearsal 24 hours a day to sound this loose and this tight at the same time. Their secret, perhaps, is that they are not merely a band trying to slavishly copy the music heard on Elvis’ records, rather they are playing music they love the way they feel it. This is a band the genuinely swings.
The first half of the show runs through the likes of ‘Mystery Train’, ‘Heartbreak Hotel’, ‘Don’t Be Cruel’, and ‘Pocket Full Of Rainbows’ amongst others before things really take off with a holler inducing ‘I Can’t Stop Loving You’ and a rockin’ ‘Walk A Mile In My Shoes’. The crowd, genuinely all ages, one elderly gentleman I spoke with revealed his two hobbies to be ‘Elvis and Pints’, are having a ball, but they can feel something brewing. Kevin is a handsome man but, as my mate puts it, he looks more like a soccer pundit than the king of rock n’ roll. Like Clark Kent in Super Man II, as much as he might want to just be himself, circumstances may call for the full superhero rig out.
Accordingly, after a short break, Doyle explodes back on to the stage transformed, bewigged and befrocked in a gloriously spangly white two-piece suit. It’s a ridiculous notion I know, but the full Elvis gear seems to make it all sound even better. This second half is the Vegas show made real – ‘I Just Can’t Help Believing’, ‘Proud Mary’, ‘Burnin’ Love’, Polk Salad Annie’, ‘The Wonder Of You’ – it’s all gold. Music is supposed to be fun, and this fantastic show reminds you of that.
Hot Press spoke to Kevin briefly later in the evening to ask him about the two-pronged approach. “I'd like to think these songs are good enough to entertain an audience without the need for the caricature element. We are always looking for a new twist to the look of the show, and so while other impersonators are going with ‘Joe Bloggs is Elvis’, we feel it's a little different to state ‘Kevin Doyle is NOT Elvis’”
Excusing name dropping which very nearly breaks the table, he remembers speaking with the likes of Ronnie Tutt, James Burton, Glen Hardin and Jerry Scheff, all members of Elvis’ TCB Band. “When they tell you “hey man, there's no real need to try be something or someone your not", and ask "are you brave enough to play this set as you?", it plays on your mind! “
There you have it, endorsed by the Taking Care O' Business band themselves. No matter what outfits Kevin Doyle, and his downright amazing The Way It Was orchestra, are sporting, they remain the best there is at what they do. The King himself would approve.