An enjoyable Elvis tribute

COMPARISONS to another local Elvis tribute artist, Lionel Hunt, were unavoidable while watching Mark Everton perform at the Little Theatre on the Wharf last Saturday night.

ELVIS GROUPIE: Mark Everton and an admiring audience member Picture: JON HOUZET

Hunt is widely known and respected for his Elvis shows, while Everton was an unknown factor when people showed up for his show. Still, he drew a crowd wanting to have a fun night out with good music.

Everton came out in an Elvis jumpsuit and wearing sunglasses, Roy Orbison-style, and with a guitar slung around him – but it was just a prop as he didn’t actually play the instrument.

He later told the audience that Elvis himself just played three chords on the guitar.

The best part of his performance was that he had the “Elvis the pelvis” hip shakes down pat, which drew many appreciative chuckles from men and women alike.

He sang many of Elvis’ most famous songs, starting with Are You Lonesome Tonight. Next he launched into the upbeat I Got a Woman, and continued straight into the refrain Amen, but without the verses. The audience sang along.

Everton said he also sang Elvis’ gospel songs, but would not perform any that night as it might not be an appropriate occasion.

After a less well-known song that he said Elvis used to sing for his mother, Everton did Elvis’ version of I Did it My Way, more famously associated with Frank Sinatra.

He followed with Hound Dog, The Wonder of You, Blue Suede Shoes and Steamroller Blues, which featured a lot of hip thrusts.

He went back to the 1950s with Stuck on You, All Shook Up, and a version of the Righteous Brothers song, You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling, with the audience joining in on the chorus.

After being somewhat unimpressed with the first half, things started to pick up after the interval, with Everton engaging the audience more and seeming more invigorated.

He said he had loved Elvis ever since he was a child and his dad used to play 8-track tapes in the car.

“I’m not an Elvis impersonator, I don’t sing like him – nobody does. He was the king of rock and roll.”

“Last year I decided to do something for the 40th anniversary of Elvis’ death, to pay tribute to him,” Everton said. “There are some very sad songs in the last set, but also some lekker jivey songs.”

He said Elvis was a troubled and very hurt man, especially after Priscilla left him.

“I’m not an Elvis impersonator, I don’t sing like him – nobody does. He was the king of rock and roll.”

Everton said Elvis had only ever written two songs, the rest being written for him, but he made the songs his own.

“He couldn’t write songs, but he could play the piano and three chords on the guitar.”

Everton launched into Suspicious Minds, then Heartbreak Hotel and Jailhouse Rock, which got people up and dancing.

After a Chuck Berry song, Johnny B Goode, he played I Just Can’t Help Believing, forgetting the words. I thought it was part of the act – to portray Elvis at the time he couldn’t remember the words to his own songs, but Everton said he genuinely had forgotten the words as it was the first time he had performed it.

He followed with It’s Now or Never, Love Me Tender and an excellent rendition of American Trilogy.

Recalling the set Hunt played at his most recent performance, it was nice that Everton played some different songs.

He dedicated I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry to everyone in the audience who had suffered cancer or lost a loved one to cancer.

He ended with some more upbeat songs, like Devil in Disguise, King of the Jungle, Teddy Bear and Don’t be Cruel.

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