There was a hushed excitement in the packed auditorium at The Capitol Theatre in Horsham. Many of the audience who’d come were obviously Elvis fans with all the studs, glitz and slicked backed hair they could muster (I swear I saw some blue suede shoes!). All were waiting to celebrate, remember and enjoy the music of ‘The King’ at this very special 40th anniversary tribute evening. They weren’t to be disappointed. The opening drum solo by Steve Rushton was pure quality and left everyone raring for more. His drum playing was a masterclass in precision and rhythmic gymnastics and I could have listened to his playing all night. For this performance, Pace had left his band behind and this was a duo performance with drums, piano and vocals only. The connection between Pace and Rushton was tangible. They worked together as one to produce a sound that was full, vibrant, complex and sensitive. The energy that pulsated from the stage was truly awesome and didn’t let up for the whole evening – no mean feat for a two-man band. It was obvious that Rushton and Pace had collaborated closely to produce this show. The ease with which they worked together and read each other’s musical intentions cannot be produced overnight. This was a highly professional performance by Pace and Rushton which reflected a diligent and dedicated approach to their craft.
Nothing was left to chance, the detail was there and from the opening bar, it was clear that this show had been conceived, developed and considered with insight and thought over a long period of time. The Capitol Theatre in Horsham is well equipped with good lighting and sound facilities. It seats around five hundred people and is an intimate and comfortable space. The air-conditioning works well and there is plenty of leg space. The car park opposite the theatre and its large glass open reception space make this a welcoming place for an evening out.
Many of the audience were local, but others had travelled some distance to be at the show having experienced Elio’s Billy Joel Songbook show previously. Elio Pace has a unique way of connecting with the audience from the start. His blend of storytelling, virtuoso piano playing and vocal renditions of Elvis favourites had the audience hooked from the beginning. There were people of all ages in the theatre that night and they all had a fantastic time. I took my mother with me and, although she claimed to be, ‘much younger than Elvis’ she is, in fact, a contemporary of his. Her verdict on the evening was ‘magic – pure magic’. However, she did say she was glad Elio didn’t do the whole rhinestone look and kept the gyrating to a couple of fun thrusts in the second half! I think that this was appreciated by the diehard fans too – this wasn’t another Elvis impersonator but a talented musician celebrating the musical genius that was Elvis.
Elio’s sensitive performance was interjected with a narrative which informed but didn’t bore the audience. I certainly learned a lot about Elvis – both his personal and professional life. In the interval, I heard many people saying, ‘I didn’t know that – did you?’ It was during the interval that I met Jane and her friend Beverly, who told me they’d been to Graceland three times and just ‘wanted to be somewhere special on this anniversary evening’. When I asked if they were enjoying their evening they said, ‘we were worried that it would be a tacky Elvis impersonator but a friend, who had seen Elio before said that we would be in for a treat. He wasn’t kidding – this evening has been wonderful’. Duncan, who had been dragged along by his girlfriend said, ‘she loves Elvis and it’s her birthday so I bought the tickets but I’m surprised by how much I am enjoying the show’.
Kerry practically screamed at me ‘it’s the best birthday present EVER’. Matt, a local musician in his thirties, was impressed by Elio’s vocals, ‘he has a powerful, rich voice and the tone, musical phrasing and vocal clarity is polished without losing grit and integrity – that’s not easy you know!’. I bet it isn’t easy but Elio makes it seem so. His ease on stage and his obvious affinity for the music kept the audience in the palm of his hand. Although there were no scene changes, no support group, no theatrics the show worked on every level.
Elio’s virtuosity made for an evening of memorable music. He sang a repertoire from every stage of Elvis’s life from spiritual numbers to his well-known rock and roll pieces. Some of his lesser known music was celebrated together with some of his earlier pieces. I especially enjoyed hearing some of the music that isn’t normally played. Towards the end of the show, our travels with Elvis came to an end with his death. Using a radio broadcast from the time Elio sang with such passion that some members of the audience were wiping away a tear. Quietly and gently the high-octane performance slowed down and the significance of the moment marked with a reflective, almost spiritual repass.
However, the evening didn’t end there as we were soon dancing in the aisles again with a compilation of numbers linking a myriad of different audience requests together. I do believe that everyone in the auditorium that night heard their favourites and their appreciation was obvious. Elio and Steve had several standing ovations during the evening and they were very well-deserved. I was delighted to hear that Elio has planned to tour this show as well as his well-received Billy Joel Songbook performances. If you have a chance to go I would highly recommend it. I am not a diehard Elvis fan, I haven’t been to Graceland or married in the white chapel but after this evening, I may just look around for a pair of blue suede shoes!
Review by Elizabeth Lickiss
Any Elvis Presley fan will tell you that August 16th, back in 1977, was the day the ‘King of Rock and Roll’ died at only 42 years of age. To mark the 40th anniversary of that momentous day in music history, acclaimed singer-songwriter, Elio Pace honours his childhood musical idol with this very special, personal and powerful performance featuring many Elvis Presley classics as well as some rarely-heard and forgotten gems.
A SHOW LIKE NO OTHER
Elio’s sensational singing and electrifying piano-playing is accompanied on stage by the dynamic and percussive power of only a special guest drummer. Never before will you have seen or heard Elvis’ catalogue presented like this.
ELIO PACE presents ELVIS PRESLEY at
The Capitol Theatre, Horsham
Wednesday, 16th August 2017