Elvis tribute artiste has Delhi rocking
Canada-based Elvis tribute artiste Stephen Kabakos took the audience back in time to the swinging 60s and the 70s in the country's first ever Elvis Presley tribute concert.Updated: May 08, 2008 12:33 IST
Elvis Presley, the king of rock and roll, set the capital on fire. The hip-shaking, gyrating rock sensation of the 60s and the 70s was in full regalia - his trademark long sideburns, high-collared sequinned jacket - as he belted out favourites like "Jailhouse Rock" and "All Shook Up" in his deep resonant baritone.
Only it was not the King in person. Award-winning Canada-based Elvis tribute artiste Stephen Kabakos took the audience back in time to the swinging 60s and the 70s in the country's first ever Elvis Presley tribute concert at the Hotel Radisson Wednesday night.
The hour-long gig, a part of Kabakos' nine-city India tour, was sponsored by United Spirits Limited.
The performer, who was crowned the Grand Champion at the 2001 "Images of the King World Competition" in Memphis, Tennessee, is one of the top three Elvis tribute artistes in the world.
For the capital bred on a staple of contemporary western and Indian sounds, the experience, as some members of the audience put it, was "uncanny". "It is like the King is here on-stage," said a 50-year-old executive from Gurgaon.
Stephen was true to Elvis Presley. "I do everything that Elvis did on stage and nothing that he did not do," he told the media. And on cue, the concert began with a high-voltage rendition of the legend's early number "Blue Moon".
He followed it with hits like "Jailhouse Rock", "Good Rocking Tonight", "Love Me Tender", "All Shook Up", "Blue Suede Shoes", "In the Ghetto", "Viva Las Vegas" and "Suspicious Minds". Kabakos was accompanied by a 15-piece string and horn orchestra and background vocals.
The audience cheered, sighed, danced and screamed for repeats.
The concert titled The Way It Was spanned the rock'n'roll legend's Sun Studio years, his pre-army movie era and the explosive concert years of mid 60s and 70s.
The performer took time off between the numbers to change into different Elvis costumes. From pinstripes to the high-collared rakish black leather open-chest ensemble to white silk jackets and flared pants done up in sequins and flashes of red silk and beads and the broad belt with silver waist chains, Delhi saw the "king" in all his shades and moods.
"Tribute music is a growing genre in the West. It is very popular. You have tribute artists playing Shania Twain, Celine Dion, The Beatles and Rod Stewart," Kabakos told IANS.
"But it is not Elvis all the way, it is my personal interpretation of Elvis Presley," said the tribute rocker from Ontario in Canada, who has cut a solo Elvis tribute album.
He has his share of critics. "Elvis cuts across continents, race and colour. People often compare my music to that of the legend and say it is not as good. I tell them to come to my show. So, I have had sceptics, mostly die-hard Presley fans, who have walked up to me after my shows saying they were impressed. I have managed to convert several such critics," Kabakos said. His favourite number is "Suspicious Minds", an Elvis classic.
"I grew up listening to Elvis Presley's music and at 12, I decided to be a tribute artiste. My mother, an Elvis fan, encouraged me and I groomed myself. It is Elvis that has brought me to India, his spirit. I have been here 72 hours and I have met some amazing people. Indians are wonderful and the cuisine is great," Kabakos said. He is married to his long-time girlfriend and says he is "a doting husband unlike the king".
Elvis Presley, who was born in a humble family in Mississippi on Jan 8, 1935, was one of the greatest rock'n'roll musicians of all time. He achieved cult status for his music, charisma, stage presence, hip-shaking and stunning good looks. He died of a drug overdose in 1977.