Garry J Foley poses with fans after the show
BLUE suede shoes made way for white leather ones. The bell-bottoms were straight out of the swinging sixties, and the thick designer belt was a retro fashion statement. The hairstyle, face cut, gait and, body language were the same. The smile was worth a million dollars, the dancing phenomenal and the voice a marvelous photocopy.
How on earth did Elvis Presley land up at the Bandra Fort Amphitheatre on Sunday night? I mean, didn’t he die some 38 years ago? Obviously, something was fishy.
Ladies and gents, shake hands with Garry J Foley, award-winning Elvis impersonator who gave Mumbai one of its most memorable evenings in recent memory. We have all seen tribute bands, playing music of the Beatles, Eagles, ABBA and Cliff Richard, but the Elvis show was the closest one could get to the King. We rocked, we rolled and we reeled.
Garry came from Las Vegas, with a guitarist, bassist, keyboardist and drummer. And from the moment he walked on stage around 730 pm till he finished around 945 pm – a very long break excluded – he just stunned the audience. The men were zapped, the women went ga-ga, and the kids wondered what their current generation might be missing.
As expected, Garry played a mix of rock ‘n’ roll and ballads, with some blues and standards thrown in. An outstanding performance with an-extra-tight backing band, but before we mention what all he played, one serious objection. How could he dare skip ‘Jailhouse Rock’ and ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight?’ – two songs that everyone loves, fan or not?
Yes, the other hits kept flowing. ‘It’s Now Or Never’ was one of the early choices, followed by a brilliant medley of ‘Heartbreak Hotel’, ‘Hound Dog’ and ‘All Shook Up’. Versions of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ‘Proud Mary’, Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ and the Righteous Brothers’ ‘You Lost That Lovin’ Feeling’ were done to perfection. So were old rock n’ roll classics like Chuck Berry’s ‘Johnny B Goode’ and Carl Perkins’ ‘Blue Suede Shoes’.
For blueshounds, it was ‘Steamroller Blues’. For the romantic types, he had ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’ and ‘Always On My Mind’. And for those who wanted vintage Elvis, there were ‘Teddy Bear’ and ‘Don’t Be Cruel’. But the two highlights were ‘Love Me Tender’ and ‘I Just Can’t Help Believin’, done with supreme charm. There were many gooseflesh moments, but these two numbers topped them all.
There was plenty of showmanship too. Often, Garry walked up the steps of the amphitheatre to shake hands with the audience and even kiss their fingers. At times, he called them in front and exchanged the mic, or just joined them in a dance step or two. He would often address the crowd with ‘Ladies and Gents’, and move the same way as Elvis did.
There were emotional moments too, as two minutes of silence was observed in memory of Ramesh Walunj, who lost his life last week trying to save three girls from drowning at Bandstand. A token contribution for his family was also collected from the audience.
The show was part of the MLA Ashish Shelar Neighbourhood Winter Festival, and was coordinated and compered by Dereyk Talker. On January 17, as part of the series, the Classic Clapton tribute gig will feature Mike Hall at the Willingdon Catholic Gymkhana. It promises to be a second super-Sunday in a row, though it doesn’t seem like we will get over Mr Elvis Foley so easily.