If attending ‘Return to Grace’ at Place des Arts over the course of the next week or so, close your eyes.
Something somewhat common takes place. Steve Michaels sings and sounds just like his alter ego; Elvis Presley. Songs heard a thousand times before pierce memories from far inside brains. Transporting people to the fifties, sixties and the seventies. Elvis, audibly and with eyes closed shut – never died.
Open your eyes.
Elvis is still dead.
‘Return to Grace’ is an attempt to bring Presley back to life and more importantly, introduce entire generations to a figure known to them as; ‘That Fat Guy’. Youtube and tales from parents and / or Grandparents cannot bring the legend back to life.
Live or dead …
The production team of Return to Grace do an outstanding job. The entire evening is periodically punctuated with a narrative. Explaining both historic events of Elvis’ lifetime and Elvis’ own historic events.
From Sun Records, an honorable Army appearance, his 68′ Comeback special and his very historic first- of- a- kind satellite broadcast from Hawaii. Elvis’ time capsule has been unearthed and thankfully, the movie version of Presley was not found.
A quarter of the way into the show, somewhere before or after ‘Return to Sender’, a magical thing happens. Michaels becomes Elvis. The crowd’s snobby ‘ No One is Elvis’ attitude disappears and Michaels himself gets into the role. In fairness, Michaels is in character from the get-go, the audience is not. A combination of the songs and theatrics ( dancers, back – up singers, choreography and costumes) kills the most ardent Ebenezer music fan. Michael’s mannerisms, voice and gestures, closer to the real Elvis than Priscilla was in the past few months of her marriage to Elvis.
If Robert Downey Jr. is Ironman – Steve Michaels is ‘The King’ …
Michaels’ is the star in a role which must be one pressure cooker. After all, Presley was one of the most unique characters not just in the past fifty years, a deity of the ages.
Michaels’ voice carries the tunes and his banter cracks the jokes. Uncanningly duplicating Elvis’ balancing act of confidence and shyness. Michaels nails the Devil and the Angel inside of Elvis. The good and evil. Any tribute to Elvis would be void without Presley’s personality. Presley’s persona as much part of his fame as his fame was to his persona. Michaels and his team, the perfect students in a Graceland classroom. Disciples of Elvis’ church.
All the hits were onboard. ‘Jailhouse Rock’, ‘In the Ghetto‘. Teddy Bear’, Suspicious Minds’, ‘Lonesome Tonight’ and ‘Love Me Tender’. Just some of the timeless songs which Elvis ( Michaels) bestowed upon his adoring public at Salle Wilfred Pelletier.
‘American Trilogy’ – done faithfully from Elvis; Aloha from Hawaii, stole the second part of the evening. A recreation both physically ( jumpsuit) and vocally. A powerful tune in the satellite special, more powerful in person. The words; ‘Glory Glory Hallelujah’ sending shivers through spines bent over in awe. The backing vocals, male and female, providing the ‘spirit’ of the Hawaii show spiritually, religiously and righteous.
If ‘The Steve Michaels’ Special’ does anything, it fulfills a legacy through music and performance. Reminding ‘the punters’ of a time when showmanship was backed up by musicianship.
Elvis Aaron Presley used to put on shows that made eyes and ears stay open. Steve Micheals duplicates it.
Eyes and ears very wide open …