Elvis-The Concert, the astounding production that reunites former Elvis bandmates live on stage with a state of the art video-projected Elvis, continues its historic and critically acclaimed world tour. This is, in effect, Elvis' first-ever world concert tour, which began in America in 1998. In his lifetime Elvis' only concerts outside the United States were five shows in three Canadian cities in 1957. A world tour was an unrequited dream for Elvis and for his international fans. More than twenty years after the superstar's death, the dream has come true.
Tours have included many American dates, highlighted by a three-show smash at New York's Radio City Music Hall. Outside the U.S.A. there have been three tours of Europe with sell-outs at London's famed Wembley Arena, a tour of Australia, and visits to Canada and Japan. Elvis fans, new audiences and even the most cynical of critics have been thoroughly wowed. The show has received tremendous acclaim. In 1998, Elvis-The Concert was designated a Guinness World Record as the first live tour headlined by a performer who is no longer living.
The show's concept is to present an authentic as possible Elvis Presley concert. The producers edited together a collection of Elvis' finest concert performances that exist on film and video and removed virtually all sound from the footage except for Elvis' vocal. The Elvis footage is projected on a large video screen. On stage a 16-piece orchestra and a group of Elvis' original bandmates from the concert era of his career perform live with the Elvis video. All music heard in the concert production is performed live except for Elvis' voice. On either side of the Elvis performance screen are screens that carry live action from the stage. From the first song it's magic. You're at a real Elvis concert.
The original Elvis bandmates who have participated in this production are: Joe Guercio (musical director/conductor), The Sweet Inspirations (female backing vocals), former members of J.D. Sumner & the Stamps Quartet (male backing vocals), former members of The Imperials (male backing vocals), former members of Voice (mail backing vocals), Millie Kirkham (soprano) and the TCB Band: James Burton (lead guitar), Glen D. Hardin (piano), Jerry Scheff (bass guitar), and Ronnie Tutt (drums). Former members of The Stamps, The Imperials and Voice alternate as the male vocal group from tour to tour based upon availability and scheduling.
Today, people are accustomed to seeing giant video screens used in live concerts to bring the star closer to the audience. Elvis' recorded voice and his on-screen presence are so powerful, the interaction with his live bandmates so seamless, the audience reaction so intense that, a few songs into the show, one can almost forget that Elvis isn't really there in person. Everything in terms of staging, set design, lighting, sound, and overall production is as if Elvis were alive and back out on the road. The audience response to this concept has been overwhelming. Long-time Elvis fans who attended actual Elvis concerts say they feel that same original excitement and electricity. The fans who never got to see him perform, many of whom were born after Elvis' death, say it is a dream-come-true experience they thought had been lost to them forever. The production is so authentic and so well done that there are moments in the show when even Elvis' own bandmates and members of the production team almost think Elvis is really back in the building!
Elvis concert footage for the show comes primarily from material shot for the MGM concert films That's The Way It Is (1970) and Elvis on Tour (1972) and from the historic 1973 global television special Aloha from Hawaii, via Satellite. This footage contains some of Elvis' finest performances from the concert era of his career, the era that is celebrated by the Elvis-The Concert production. The other main criterion for selecting from these films is that they were originally recorded in multi-track. Thus, the producers are able to drop all sound from the footage, then return to the footage the isolated track that recorded only from Elvis' microphone in these exact concert performances. Some material from his 1968 television special Elvis (a.k.a. the '68 Comeback), although very little of it was recorded in multi-track, works well with Elvis-The Concert production needs and is included. The 1968-1973 footage shows Elvis at the pinnacle of his superstardom, at the height of his powers as a concert performer, and in top form physically.
On August 16, 1997, marking the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the passing of Elvis Presley, Elvis Presley Enterprises and SEG Events presented Elvis in Concert '97 to a sell-out crowd at the Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis, Tennessee. It featured a great gathering of many of the outstanding instrumentalists and vocalists who had worked on stage and in the recording studio with Elvis over the years. The late Elvis Presley, via video, starred in the show. His former band members and The Memphis Symphony Orchestra performed live. This production more or less became the prototype for Elvis-The Concert, a smaller-scaled production that has toured extensively since early 1998. A major reunion concert on the scale of the 1997 show was called Elvis-The 25th Anniversary Concert, a sold-out smash at The Pyramid arena in Memphis on August 16, 2002. And now the touring production Elvis-The Concert hits the road again in 2003, including its fourth tour of Europe.