Monday, 3 May 2010

How Great Thou Art: The rise of the Christian Elvis

Apologies for radio silence. I am pleased to announce that Everyday Elvis has indeed been undergoing Elvisness, but without reporting. So to get back on the gravel road, I am delighted to introduce a guest post, by Elvisiate Clare, who accompanied me to see Elvis in Concert, at Wembley Arena, 27th February, 2010. 
I never thought I would be going to an Elvis concert so to go to a second one was inconceivable this time last year.

Here is my previous experience of Elvis:

1/ At around nine years-old I developed a habit of listening to my dad’s Elvis album and walking around the living room imagining I was Elvis’s girlfriend, miming the words back at him and twisting my ponytail around my fingers to titillate him.

2/ At around 14 years-old I had a party. It was very very good. My sisters bought me Hooch to escape the embarrassment of my mum’s very devious plan of saying she would supply the alcohol for the party - information I coolly passed on to the rest of the prospective guests – only to pull out of the bag 1% beer with only an hour to go before anyone arrived.

Anyway that has nothing to do with Elvis but everything to do with the difference between sisterly and motherly love.

I was not all that generous with the Hooch and Bacardi Breezers and got very drunk. I remember vaguely my sister dancing to dad’s same Elvis album with the boy I fancied. At such a young age it is hard to understand your emotions and I wasn’t sure why that made me like him more. Now I know it was because he liked Elvis and not because he fancied my sister.

3/ A few months ago Pen77 wanted to go to the Ace CafĂ© to celebrate Elvis’ birthday. I didn’t really want to go but everyone at work said I should. I’m glad I did. The fans were glamorous and the band was amazing, unbelievable. I thought I was in a film. I wanted to go home, put on some red lipstick, a fifties pony tail and mime Elvis songs to Michael the Lift. He wanted to go to sleep. He won.

That night there was a raffle to see Elvis with his original band at Wembley. I made Pen77 check her ticket. She won and she only knew because of me. I felt proud. But then I felt a sense of horror. She would invite me. I would have to go to another Elvis night and not one with young sexy people but one with old fat people.

I had underestimated how many old, fat people you could put in one place, but Wembley is a pretty large venue.

Apparently these were the more typical fans witnessed by Pen77 at conventions. Imagine a woman in her forties, the kind who thinks it is OK to wear pink furry headbands. Maybe I’m just being cruel. I’m sure I’ll be corrected if I am.

I wondered if there was something about Elvis that made women connect with him. These people were too young to have liked Elvis at the time he was famous. So did they, like me, like Elvis because their dad did? Although it was never a bonding point between me and my dad I know the feeling of clinging on to any common ground – for a period of around two years we had many many conversations about the film Donnie Brasco. I even bought the French dubbed version to impress him. He doesn’t speak French.

The concert was pretty much like any concert I’ve been to in a big venue – Elvis was on the big screen and the band played along. As I am short I normally don’t have the luxury of seeing the performer on stage so it was a relief to know I wasn’t missing out on the “experience” or “atmosphere” as the big screen was were it was at.
The band were truly talented - Elvis's Vegas and touring backing band and singers, The Sweet Inspirations, The Imperials and the TCB Band. The highlights of the night for me were when they got to do their solos. However, I was not among friends with this view. The fans weren’t interested. They just wanted more Elvis on the big screen. They couldn’t get enough of Elvis. As soon as it was the band’s turn to shine, they got up to go to the loo.

Little did I know that the shock of the night was still to come.

The song that brought the house down. The one that got their arms in the air, their banners waving. The one that got them on their feet, embracing each other in celebration of greatness. It wasn’t Hound Dog, it wasn’t Suspicious Minds. It wasn’t even I Can’t Help Falling in Love. It was How Great Thou Art.

Thanks: None of this would have been possible without Michael the Lift or Pen77

Pictures: Pen77

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