Monday, 13 September 2010

Green Green Grass of Hyde Park: Radio 2's Elvis Forever

Part 2: In which Moira Stewart appears, KT embodies the King, Big TJ plugs his new album, and Priscilla loves us....

And then... Moira Stewart. Sorry? Come again? MOIRA STEWART. Turns out Moira loves Elvis. Clearly she loves Chris. "Darling!" she says to him. "Everything is everyTHING!" she says to us. I had to shut Clare up with her Frank Butcher impression and avoided joining the naughtys with a chant of "Moira, Moira give us a song." Then Moira was busy loving Tony Hadley who loves Bridge Over Troubled Water. The man next to me said, emphatically, "Tony's not fat". It's true, Tony's not fat. I was there. Michael Ball however, who came on next to strut about delightedly while singing You Don't Have to Say You Love Me, opened his jacket seditiously to reveal a tummy. Just a little one. Some, not many, shouted "Off, off, off". Clare looked confused and slightly cross, "something's going wrong here". I'm inclined to agree. And then Marti Pellow came back. Chris said he was the star of the first half. It depends what you like. Everyone liked Marti's In The Ghetto. Then Scouting for Girls were back with Hound Dog and at this point I gotta say, why didn't they bring back Imelda May? Imelda's Hound Dog I would pay to see. Oh I paid to see theirs too. But Chris promised! I think we were over time and a couple of returns got cut. If one of them was KT Tunstall I'll be super cross because KT was tremendous. "She's the nuts," said Chris. I could have put it better but he's right. "Ah'right Hyde Park?!" says KT Scottishly, Quatro-attired. A Little Less Conversation even had the orchaestra's conductor, Mike Dixon, getting so groovy with his baton that he looked like he might spank her with the joy of it. Now, I like the JXL Remix, but the KT groove was just special, people. Special. I'd give her a picture but she wouldn't stand still. "Elvis was living through KT you can actually feel it!" says Chris. Amen, I shut my mouth and open up my heart.
"Some know her best as Jenna Wade from Dallas. Some know her as Jane Spencer from the Naked Gun films. Some know her as an all round business whizz who can move and shake with the biggest and the best of them. We know her simply as Priscilla Presley". I'm sure Priscilla is used to adulation but she must have been quite surprised by the rapture (or not, she's a Scientologist after all). "Hello there, wow!" says she. The wave of people that she's talking about has grown - I guess latecomers and those floating about in the park on the last lovely evening of the year felt the call. Priscilla thinks Elvis might be a preacher if he were alive today. Priscilla is on to introduce the headline. She does so with the story of how Elvis wanted to hear the Green Green Grass of Home over and over. "Please, please, bring out Sir Tom Jones". Big Tom Jones bounces on with Run On. Run On is a traditional song, I'm not strictly sure it's gospel but happy to stand corrected. It is a fabulous song and Tom does it splendidly but can we just acknowledge it is an odd choice for Elvis Forever, unless, perchance, it happens to be on your new album, which in Tom's case is called Praise & Blame. Tom deserves another blog post and will surely get one sooner or later. In the meantime, I gotta tell you Jones the Rocker looks like a big curly-haired universal prophet. You can see his picture on Greek pots, Mayan wall-paintings, Benin bronzes, all in the British Museum. Tom loved Elvis and Elvis loved Tom. He strikes up "I've been travelling over mountains, through the valleys too". And the valleys cheer. Someone raises Y Ddraig Goch. Yay for Welsh Elvis fans. 

Tom pays tributes to his old friends, the TCB band. And then I think he's ready to go off, but the audience loves Tom and Chris suggests another song. "Tom, Tom, one more" says Chris. Tom sounds a bit shocked, "How can we do one more?" Tom chats with the boys and manages a respectable One Night ("What key? Whatever key Elvis sung it in"). My dad would say, unkindly, that Tom Jones isn't concerned with keys. It didn't sound unrehearsed, unless you count the conflation of the lyrics of both versions. The audience get the hang of it and we all sing along. We love our one night with Tom and Elvis. Chris sounds a bit sheepish. I think he might be in trouble ("he's gonna kill me afterwards").

Well where can you go from there? I think you can only go one step further. Enter the King. On the screens to the side of the stage is Elvis himself, singing the Wonder of You. Elvis in Vegas, "play the song James", and there's young James.... and young Glen... (echoes of Elvis at Wembley). And we are all singing. "I guess I'll never know the reason why you love me as you do". And you've got to wonder. When Priscilla says, "This is what a happening  is. I want you all to look around at each other, look in the back, look to the sides, and know that this is what happened in 1955, 56 57, whenever Elvis appeared." I look around, at the nine year old girl who knows all the words (including to Burnin' Love), the loved-up bikers, the four Geordies who are miles away, the ubiquitous Welsh women, the people in their stupid Elvis costumes, the good-looking rockabilly cats next to us, the bloke next to me who loved Suzi Quatro best.... Priscilla says "I want you to know that song really is for you. The Wonder of You! When he sang that song, believe me, he had all of you in mind". Priscilla gives Elvis's fans a little homage, and tells us that it was one of his dreams to perform in the UK, and that "he may not have fulfilled his dream of appearing here, but tonight he is here, with us in spirit". Someone unkindly shouts, you divorced him! (Let there be no doubt we all would have divorced him). Then we have fireworks and Elvis with Suspicious Minds (apparently a preview of Cirque de Soleil's Elvis show in Vegas which is coming here soon). Everyone comes on, KT is in a Tony and Suzi sandwich. Glitter explodes. And on the way out, everyone is pissed. There are stupid hats and a lot of hugging and bad wigs and light sabres. And you wonder what Elvis would have thought of it all. Or what he thinks of it, wherever he is. 

Thanks: Clare, BBC Radio 2
Pics: Pen77,, PA

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