Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley and Roy Orbison...now there’s a line up for you. Sadly Mr G. Reaper Esq. had other ideas. Buddy checked out way back in 1959, Presley in ’77 and The Big O in ‘88 so a show like this hasn’t been a realistic proposition for a good half century or so. Happily we still have the songs, film footage and recordings of course enabling talented young things to bring the granddaddies of rock ‘n’ roll to life once more.
As with many shows like this it all works best if you’re able to leave your precise memories of the original performances at home. Whilst the performers do pretty good impressions no one sings precisely like Elvis, Buddy or Roy, although all three ‘stand ins’ have considerable form with Damian Edwards playing Orbison since 2000, Ed Handoll doing Buddy since 2006 and Stephen Michael Kabos assuming the King’s crown over 15 years ago.
Buddy’s perhaps the easiest one to get away with, partly down to his voice (arguably Buddy’s vocal was weaker than Presley’s and Orbison’s) and partly because he’s perhaps not as ingrained in our collective musical memories as the other two. What matters most though isn’t the impersonations it’s the music and this is jam packed with classic hits from all three artists who take it in turns to do sets, occasionally popping up to sing with each other, something which sadly no one ever got to hear or see when they were all alive. The first half of the show focuses on the early years with tonight’s Buddy and Elvis reminding you of just how radical this new rock ‘n’ roll thing was. It’s hard to imagine the excitement it must’ve caused way back in the 50s but the simple fact is that without Buddy and Elvis many of the bands they influenced simply wouldn’t have existed in the form we know them...The Beatles for instance who named themselves partly in honour of The Crickets (Holly’s band) and who inspired a young John Lennon to pick up a guitar. Watching Holly play tonight his influence on punk and new wave came across loud and clear too (Costello based his entire look on the dude) and the twitchy jerk pop of Peggy Sue surely shares its DNA with pretty much anything by The Ramones.
Wisely the producers haven’t restricted the sets to the early 50s though (with the exception of Buddy of course...for obvious reasons) so we get to experience Elvis in all his Aloha From Hawaii pomp and glory and Roy’s late career rebirth courtesy of I Drove All Night and You Got It (his best bits all evening).
Incredibly the Elvis special was watched by over 1billion people back in 1973, a figure that still seems remarkable even in the days of You Tube. Cop a load of this...
Tonight’s Elvis, Stephen Michael Kabos did a fine hip swinging, crotch thrusting, lip curling job of capturing some of that magic, especially on his own incendiary version of Burning Love. My loins are still a little moist just thinking about it...
As a fun but respectful tribute to three of music’s pioneers this show’s simply heaven sent.
Three Steps To Heaven is on at The New Alexandra Theatre on Saturday 18th January (shows at 2.30pm and 7.30pm - tickets here). If rock ‘n’ roll tribute shows are your thing check out Gene and Eddie (Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran) on 14th and 15th January and Winter Dance Party (Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, Dion and The Belmonts and The Big Bopper) on 16th and 17th January too. Discounts available for bookings to all three shows!