Blessing Shanklin Theatre’s stage with his blue suede shoes, Elvis Presley tribute act Ben Portsmouth gave the performance of a lifetime last Saturday and wowed the audience into thinking they were really watching the King himself!
Ben — the man who looks, sounds, acts and dances like Elvis — began his show with ‘Shake, Rattle & Roll’ with a guitar in his hand, wearing a recreation of young Elvis’ iconic Gold Lamé Suit blazer. Capturing the distinctive voice of young Elvis with his famous country sound, Ben performed the song with so much energy and joy, already holding the crowd in awe.
In the unique but extremely recognisable Elvis accent, Ben humoured the audience by saying: “I’ve seen the beautiful beaches of Brazil, the lights of Las Vegas, but tonight…” he stumbled, trying to think of something exclusive to the Island but failing to do so, gaining a theatre full of chuckles.
Changing into a replica of Elvis’ army uniform, Ben performed ‘Wooden Heart’ known for its use in the 1960s film ‘G.I. Blues’. Whilst he sang, the famous video of The King and the puppet played behind him on the projector screen creating a beautiful touch.
A couple of songs later, Ben chose a lucky lady from the audience and called her up to the stage. He pulled up a chair for her, knelt down on one knee and performed ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love’ whilst he gazed into her eyes in the very cheeky, but charming Elvis way.
Elvis, I mean Ben, paid a gorgeous tribute to both Elvis’ and Priscilla Presley’s love during the song ‘Young and Beautiful’. The crowd was speechless watching him up on that stage, the closest voice to Elvis one has ever heard. As he sung so beautifully and passionately, a slideshow on the screen behind him transitioned into photos of the iconic couple themselves.
To liven things up again after the audience were nearly reduced to tears at the emotional performance, Ben appeared on stage in the classic, Elvis Presley attire — the black, leather jumpsuit. Together with his incredible band, Ben mimicked Elvis’ greatest medley, starting with ‘Heartbreak Hotel’, moving into ‘Hound Dog’ and then finishing with ‘All Shook Up’. Alongside this, he was pulling out all the classic Elvis moves, poses and of course, huge cheeky smiles!
The last song before the interval was one of the hardest Elvis songs to cover but Ben smashed it out the park. He performed ‘If I Can Dream’ with so much passion and enthusiasm whilst hitting the notes in the most flawless way. People talk of Elvis’ range and power, and his ability and ease at hitting the high notes and it’s safe to say Ben does him and his songs complete justice.
The second half of the show, Ben wore a replica of one of Elvis’ finest jumpsuits — the one many people picture Elvis in when they think of him. The white, high-collared jumpsuit! In a lower Elvis voice, Ben performed ‘Burning Love’, ‘You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling’, ‘Wonder of You’, ‘ Johnny B Goode’, ‘Always on my Mind’, ‘Suspicious Minds’ and also took to the piano — exactly like Elvis did — to cover ‘Unchained Melody’ with as much passion and soul as Elvis himself. The resemblance of this performance to Elvis’ was uncanny.
Along with his incredible performance honouring Elvis’ songs, Ben brought his own personality and humour into the show, showing that although he was acting as Elvis, he was also his own person too! His phenomenal band aren’t to be forgotten either, their ability to perform so beautifully with one another really brought the performance together and captured the magic that Elvis and his band shared.
Ben finished off the show with a thank you to the audience and of course a thank you to the King himself.
There was only one king. But for the new generations, Ben is a way to honour and have a thousandth of the real energy of those who had the opportunity to have watched Elvis Presley in person.