REVIEW: Return to Grace

As a die-hard Elvis fan, I’ve seen many Elvis performers.  From summer fairs to the Vegas Strip many attempt to take care of business.  Some try to emulate and some try to embody The King but not always with the desired effect. Return to Grace had been on my mind for over a year when my nine year old son was lucky enough to see it in Toronto. Boy was I envious.

Elvis was a natural.   Elvis was one-of-a-kind.  Elvis commanded the stage.  Would this artist Steve Michaels even begin to fill Elvis’ Blue Suede Shoes?

The spotlight illuminates the stage and we are taken back in time to the 1950’s. Steve Michaels as Elvis Presley is on the Queen Elizabeth Theatre stage with his two band mates. In the words of Elvis, in his original group, “we had a guitar a bass and another guitar”. Sun Records and the start of something big.

Michaels voice, a classic microphone and simple stage project the sound of the roots of Rock and Roll.   The show masterfully weaves its way through key moments, big songs, legendary outfits and the tragic moments that made up Elvis’ life.  As I watched the concert Michaels music drew me into Elvis’s life.  Effortless and powerful, soft and strong, Michaels voice was like that of The King himself.

His Voice.  Check.  His mannerisms. Check.  His movements.  Check.  His crowd-interaction. Check. Michaels takes the time to talk to the crowd in the down-home Southern, often comedic way that Elvis did so well.

The energetic, rollercoaster of music made its next stop at the 68’ Comeback Special.  With a now much larger stage and the addition of dancers, the performance reflects why this truly was Elvis’ comeback.   A performance like Michaels’ version of If I Can Dream is cause for goosebumps.

Then the show takes the tribute into overdrive with the Aloha from Hawaii Concert.  Now the band has grown. There are strings and horns, backup singers and of course the jumpsuit.  I close my eyes to focus on the range of Michael’s voice and I am blown away.  I don’t expect to hear Elvis but I’m convinced this is as close to the real thing as I will ever experience.  Just when my appreciation of this performer and his band is through the roof, he sang How Great Thou Art and there is a lump in my throat.

I realize that for the last two hours I haven’t been watching just another Elvis impersonator or tribute artist but an incredible performer.  It’s not Michaels trying to be Elvis. Performing as Elvis just comes naturally to Michaels.  Channeling every part of the King, Michaels delivers a performance of Burning Love that I don’t want to end.  Even the women rushing to the stage are as eager to get a piece of Michael’s scarf as if it had just wiped the sweat off Elvis himself.

Return To Grace is a once-in-a-lifetime concert you must see.  Elvis would be proud of the show.   Michaels and the rest of the Return To Grace performers truly have Taken Care of Business.

For tickets and show information visit www.returntograce.ca

 

 

About the author  ⁄ Rod McInnes

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