Wednesday, October 24, 2018

All shook up


There's nothing like a nice catch-up with old friends - it's just that Saturday's, which began with a burger and a chinwag in a dressing room at Tramshed, ended up being gatecrashed by a few hundred lairy Cardiffians.

Such is the burgeoning reputation of "the world's finest Elvis-fronted tribute to Nirvana" that Elvana had been upgraded from the Globe and then sold out Tramshed without having ever previously set foot in Wales - and that on the final night of the city's Swn Festival, too. Unlike most in attendance, I'd seen Elvana before (three times, to be exact), but that didn't detract from the enjoyment; in fact, it was fantastic to see how they've honed their act and developed a slick, perfectly constructed hour-and-forty-five-minute-long set.

There have been some casualties along the way, inevitably: 'Negative Creep', 'Been A Son', 'Very Ape', 'You Know You're Right' and (probably wisely) 'Rape Me'. Gone too is the Star Wars intro, replaced with something far more appropriate: a bespoke adaptation of the Back To The Future narrative detailing (possibly with a degree of poetic licence) how this glorious Frankenstein's monster of a band came into being.

'Stay Away' now kicks things off, Bobby Grohl managing to pull off that drum breakdown (one of my favourite bits of any song ever) with aplomb. 'Aneurysm' is saved for the start of the second segment of the show, after the first of Elvis' two costume changes - with renditions of 'Molly's Lips' and 'Celebrity Skin' (on which guitarist Danny Cobain and backing singers Charlotte and Stephanie aka Talk Like Tigers take on vocal duties) affording him time to squeeze into different but equally dazzling jumpsuits.

Perhaps the biggest talking point is the decision to include 'Smells Like Teen Spirit'. Previously shunned out of respect for Kurt Cobain's dislike of the song, its appearance in the setlist is, you have to say, entirely justified by the rabid reaction it gets.

With each tour, the venues get larger - something that Elvana are only too happy to exploit, with Elvis delivering 'Can't Help Falling In Love' and most of 'Heart Shaped Box' from the balcony. This helps to ensure that, despite the increased capacity, the intimate connection between band and crowd remains strong; indeed, it's arguably stronger now than ever before, with the incorporation of more audience participation. 'All Apologies' and 'The Man Who Sold The World' still end the evening, the former probably the song that has gone up most in my estimation through hearing them perform it.

With increasing numbers of people coming back for more, and massive dates at the Albert Hall in Manchester and Shepherds Bush Empire in London already announced for April, the challenge will be how to shake things up again and keep it feeling fresh. But for now Elvana can be content that they've put together a knockout show that has been leaving punters up and down the country deliriously happy. I should know - on Saturday, I was one of them.

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