Friday evening, February 8, 2013 marked the first and only Milwaukee performance of the "Elvis Lives!: The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artists Tour", and Elvis fans made their presence known. 'Elvis Lives' is truly the ultimate Elvis tribute artists event, as it stars four of the world's best tribute artists, a live band, backup singer/dancers, and an accompanying multimedia slideshow. Though the tribute artists were the primary focus, the accompanying performers and slideshow made for an incredible exhibit of Elvis's legacy and impact on America. The show celebrates Elvis Presley's life and follows his career divided through four different stages and tribute artists.
The 2011 Ultimate Elvis Competition first runner up, Ben Klein, portrayed Elvis during the beginning of his career. Klein has been performing professionally for 11 years and currently holds nine first places competition awards across the country. Klein opened the show by performing "That's All Right", "Blue Moon of Kentucky", "Shake, Rattle and Roll", "Heartbreak Hotel", "Love Me Tender", "Teddy Bear", "Don't Be Cruel", "Peace in the Valley", and "Blue Suede Shoes". Klein warmed up the audience with his humor, dance moves, and incredibly accurate singing voice.
The "Viva Las Vegas" stage of Elvis's career followed with the 2010 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist second place winner, Kevin Mills. Mills is an international performer and has appeared both in television and film, most notably in A&E's 'Elvis the Beginning'. Ann-Margaret tribute performer, Lori Russo, accompanied Mills throughout the majority of this section of the tribute. Russo has been entertaining for over 25 years, 13 of which were portraying Ann-Margaret. Mills began his section by singing "Rock a Hula Baby" and "Blue Hawaii". Klein returned to perform "GI Blues", followed by Mills and Russo's rendition of "What'd I Say". They continued with "You're the Boss", "The Lady Loves Me", and "Viva Las Vegas". Russo and Mills had incredible energy and chemistry together, though Mills's performance was slightly stiffer than that of the other tribute artists.
After an intermission, Leo Days covered Elvis's Hollywood days. Days won his first tribute artist contest when he was 15 years old, and has been performing across the nation and internationally for the past 12 years. He is one of the 2009 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest top finalists and often performs all eras of Elvis from the '50s through the '70s. Days continued the show with "Trouble", "Heartbreak Hotel", "Hound Dog", "All Shook Up", "Are You Lonesome Tonight", "Lawdy Miss Clawdy", "Jailhouse Rock", "One Night With You", and "If I Can Dream". Days was clearly a crowd favorite, as several audience members screamed and cheered throughout his performances.
Lastly, the 2009 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest winner, Bill Cherry, portrayed Elvis through during his post-Hollywood '70s tour. Cherry has been performing since for 24 years, consequently winning numerous awards across the country. Cherry's final section of the show consisted of "C.C. Rider", "Burning Love", "Walk a Mile in My Shoes", "You Gave me a Mountain", "In the Ghetto", "Suspicious Minds","America the Beautiful", and "An American Trilogy". It was apparent why Cherry won the 2009 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest, as he was very accurate in his mannerisms, voice, and overall performance.
"Elvis Lives" closed with all four Elvis tribute artists returning to the stage to sing "Can't Help Falling in Love", resulting in a standing ovation.
Each Elvis tribute artist showed undeniable skills, all but Mills playing the guitar at some point, and each giving out kisses and souvenirs to screaming fans. Whether you've seen Elvis live in the past, or want to experience the next best thing, "Elvis Lives!" is a great show to pay homage to the King of Rock 'n' Roll. "Elvis Lives!" is currently touring across the country and will return to Wisconsin on March 20 in Wausau and March 21 in Green Bay. For more information on the tour, please visit http://www.elvislivestour.com/.