How do you judge a tribute act, and particularly one that impersonates perhaps the greatest artist of the 20th century?
Is it fair to compare Lee ‘Memphis’ King’s performance to the real Elvis Presley, or just to his fellow impersonators?
Whatever the measure, the audience in a pretty packed Ipswich Regent on Saturday thought King good enough to deserve a standing ovation for his finale performance of American Trilogy and to keep on their feet through a storming encore.
The evening had started off a little weaker, with King’s band seeming ill at ease with Presley’s early material and the performance lacking the raw sexual energy that is needed to really set alight songs like Hound Dog.
Gospel songs delivered by the backing singers during costume changes also seemed a little flat.
But King upped his game as he performed tracks from the 1968 Comeback Special and the Las Vegas years, and was particularly strong on songs perhaps less associated with Elvis like There Goes My Everything and You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling.
Although King’s singing voice is startlingly like Presley’s at times, refreshingly he didn’t attempt to ‘become’ Elvis and spoke between songs in his own voice.
He also refused to take things too seriously, affectionately joking about Presley’s famous fast talking. It’s a shame his band didn’t share the levity, leaving it to the brass section to actually appear to be enjoying themselves.
Lee King has obvious talent and particularly in the energetic final numbers it could just about have been Elvis on stage.
He has been voted the best Elvis impersonator several times and you can see why. To be perfect, he just needs to find a backing group that is similarly up to scratch.