Down On The Town
by Alexander Oolo
Eternally Yours, Elvis
(With files from Jonathan Silbert)
Thursday, August 16, 2001 marked the 24th year since the great Elvis Aaron Presley passed into the eternal beyond.
But there was no talk of that a mere two days before, August 14. That’s when ‘Elvis – The Concert’ graced our fair city and landed in Toronto’s Hummingbird Centre for the Performing Arts.
Featured One Night Only, you could have sworn that ‘The King’ was truly among the full-capacity crowd.
The brainchild of Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc., the production reunites Elvis’ former band mates and back-up singers, accompanied by a 16-piece orchestra, live on stage, with a state of the art video-projected Elvis.
The show’s premise is to present an Elvis concert as authentic and genuine as possible. To achieve this, the producers edited together a collection of Elvis’ finest concert performances existing on film and video and removed all sound from the original footages expect for Presley’s vocal. The actual Elvis footage is then projected onto a giant two-story high (!) video screen.
Subsequently, it was often hard to distinguish if Elvis was actually performing on stage, particularly in combination with such a well-delivering live act (all on-stage action was carried live and broadcast onto two smaller side screens), or not.
Besides, there is just something so timeless, almost spiritual, whenever listening to songs by the iconic legend. And so, it must have been the combination of Elvis’ beautiful voice, his powerful on-screen presence plus the live playing & singing that invoked in most concertgoers such a strong willingness to interact with and react to, ultimately, an image on a screen.
This of course made listening and "seeing" Elvis perform ‘In the Ghetto’, ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’, ‘All Shook Up’ (wow, what body language he had), ‘The Wonder of You’, and, in particular my favourite, ‘An American Trilogy’, so much more intense and memorable.
In a way it is true. This is Elvis’ first-ever world concert tour since his untimely demise in 1977. In fact, a world tour was an unrequited dream for Elvis and his fans around the globe. If you think about it, Elvis, a deeply spiritual and generous man, with a unique way to sing, perform and spellbound, was truly loved and still-is the world over.
That’s why Elvis – The Concert should and will continue its historic and critically acclaimed world tour, ever since starting in 1998. Though the show is on hiatus for now, additional tour booking possibilities for 2001 and 2002 continue to be explored. The best way to get the low-down on any upcoming dates is by going to http://www.elvis.com/concert/, or by calling Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc. in Memphis, Tennessee, 901 332 3322, 800 238 2000.
One thing is for sure. Elvis is as popular, revered and loved as ever, with the concert having toured all over the world. Three times alone in Europe, including the Germanic universe such as Bremen, Berlin, Hanau, Hannover, Hamburg, Munich, Oberhaussen, Stuttgart, Vienna and Zurich.
Germany in particular had a big-time love affair with Elvis, since that’s the one country outside the U.S.A. where he spent quite some time; 18 months to be exact. That was during his army years when Elvis was stationed at Ray Barracks in Friedberg, Hessen, maintaining also an off-base residence in Bad Nauheim. He arrived October 1, 1958 and did not leave until March 1, 1960. It is authenticated that he found the fans in Germany to be as enthusiastic as in America.
In his lifetime Elvis only performed outside of the United States five times - three concerts in Canada in 1957 - with two shows in Toronto on April 2, two shows in Ottawa on April 3, and one performance in Vancouver on August 3, which marked his last international performance.
‘Elvis - The Concert’ has been declared an official Guinness World Record™ holder, noted as "the first live tour starring a performer who is no longer living."
Take me to your Leader
Forget the EX (Canadian National Exhibition), forget the Canadian Open, forget the Toronto International Film Festival. Forget all that is loud, non-creative and overbearing.
I’ve got something for you that is the real thing that concerns all of us and will inspire you in spades, if you so chose to attend.
I’m speaking of ‘World Leaders: A Festival of Creative Genius’ (www.worldleadersfestival.com) coming to Toronto, Canada. Presented by American Express, September 24 to October 30, 2001, Leaders is a proactive event in the world of international contemporary culture.
Ambitious in its undertaking, incomparable to anything in previous, it is fashioned to assemble a select group of world renowned artists who have pioneered a new vocabulary in creativity and have had a transformational effect on key artistic disciplines.
And here is the part that caught my eye: Harbourfront Centre (www.harbourfront.on.ca) has created this festival to emphasize that the true world leaders of today are creative artists. The leaders presented here are people whose artistic achievements and innovation are so significant that they have changed the face of world culture.
Now, who are they, who are these artistic, creative leaders?
Pina Bausch, Bernardo Bertolucci, Peter Gabriel, Frank Gehry, Quincy Jones, Guy Laliberte, Joni Mitchell, Issey Miyake, Harold Pinter, Robert Rauschenberg, Stehphen Soundheim, Phillipe Starck, and, Lily Tomlin.
The organizers could have not made a more amazing selection of human path setters.
Take dance-choreographer, Pina Rausch, for example. She is considered Germany’s number one cultural export and a creative pioneer. An astute German critic (Jochen Schmidt) calls her the "Mother Courage of contemporary dance…she broke down barriers and redefined dance: as an art not only about beauty…but above all about freedom, full of love, tenderness and humanity."
Or consider Guy Laliberté, the founder of Cirque du Soleil, who so aptly considers his team "merchants of happiness." Or look to Phillipe Starck, who’s been called the world’s most famous designer, viewing his work not as "decoration: it’s about feeling." Or revisit one Quincy Jones, who as a genuine music legend lives "in present time, always present time…that way you’re not involved with things you’ve already gone through…"
14 remarkable leaders altogether, over a time span of 5 significant weeks!
The way it works is that each World Leader will be featured and celebrated during one, exclusive homage evening. Explored will be the origins, inspirations and worldwide mark each of these revolutionary creators gifted us with (All homages take place at 6:00 p.m., at The Liberty Grand).
For a full Homage experience (dinner & celebratory presentation), tickets are $175. A limited number of presentation-only tickets are available at $85. Although most Special Events are free, some will be ticketed.
For information and tickets call 416-973-4000, or check in with the Box Office at 235 Queens Quay West, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
And finally, the evenings will also be an occasion to help launch Toronto’s elegant new entertainment complex The Liberty Grand. Standing majestically on the shore of Lake Ontario, The Liberty is the jewel of Exhibition Place. Constructed in 1926 and newly restored to its original beaux-arts exuberance, it now takes its place as one of the city’s premier venues for special occasions such as World Leaders.
Be sure that you will see me there.
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