Date 9 January 2005, 8pm Venue Centennial Theatre, North Vancouver

Reviewer: John Jane


 

 

 

 

 

 


Good tribute artists walk a narrow line between being eerily accurate and obscenely exploitative. The performances of Wally Tiemer and his junior “role-mate,” Dean Z in the Elvis tribute that celebrated "The King's" 70th birthday tracked that path right down the middle.

In a highly entertaining, two-hour, Vegas-style spectacle, the pair re-lived some of Elvis’s most memorable live performances, including his first television appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” the Elvis NBC special that came to be known as "The '68 Comeback Specia,l" and the historic 1973 satellite broadcast, "Aloha from Hawaii."

Each act was separated by a pre-recorded narration by local legendary DJ Red Robinson, who met Elvis Presley when he came to Vancouver in 1957. Robinson’s informative commentary was accompanied by still photographs of Presley’s live performances projected onto a monochrome backdrop.

Dean Z singularly handled the “Rockabilly” and “Movie Years” segments of the show, displaying much of Presley’s famous youthful charisma with songs from his early career, starting with “Ready, Teddy” and “Love Me Tender.”

Featured performer, Teimer, appeared on stage for the first time, dressed in black leather in the pivotal “Comeback” segment. His talented four piece backing group, led by guitarist Dan Hare, expanded to eight musicians plus three female back-up singers.

 

 

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Like "The King" himself, Tiemer is a natural baritone. His respect for Elvis’s music comes through with every note — and after five years of refining his tribute act, he still feels a special connection to the acclaimed “King of Rock n’ Roll.” Songs as diversified as “In the Ghetto” and “A Little Less Conversation” (currently heard weekly as the signature theme of the popular TV show Las Vegas) demonstrate Tiemer’s ability to cover the entire scope of his idol’s career, but his dead-on treatment of the “Gospel” segment, aided by the Gospel Life Assembly choir, evoked the most emotional response from the audience.

The Vancouver tribute artist has developed a strong local fan base. Looking around the theatre, it was difficult to spot an empty seat, with many having attended all three shows presented at various venues around the Lower Mainland. Some devotees might have been too young to see Elvis in his heyday, but these artists gave them an opportunity to experience what they missed and encouraged the audience to "buy-into" the Elvis celebration.

The current penchant for tribute shows is not easily explained. Perhaps they exist because many of us who lived through the 1970s find ourselves with a proclivity to revisit the past at every opportunity that presents itself.

2005 John Jane

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