Interview with the world’s number one, ultimate Elvis tribute

The ultimate Elvis Presley tribute act will take to Shanklin Theatre’s stage in his blue suede shoes.

To celebrate Ben Portsmouth’s debut as Elvis Presley at Shanklin Theatre on September 27 and 28, below is an interview with the man who evokes the memory of the King himself.

Q. There are many Elvis Tribute Acts around, what makes your show stand out as a ‘must see’ from the rest?

A. In the first half of the show I tell the story of Elvis’ life – everything from his beginnings at Sun Studios, his movie career, his time in the army, as well as his marriage and losses. I perform a range of Elvis’ songs and wear the outfits that coincide with each stage of the events in his career. Using footage and audio this first half leads up to the 1968 ‘comeback’ where Elvis’ re-invented himself as a live performer again.

The second half of the show is a recreation of what it would have been like to see Elvis in concert the Vegas years, so it’s a really special experience. I like to add my own humour into the show, in the same way that Elvis did – it brought such warmth and human-ness to his performances. I also play the guitar and piano, the same as Elvis.

Q. What came first – a love of music, a love of Elvis or the look-a-like/sound-a-like?

A. First and foremost, I loved Elvis’ music, which I heard from a young age in my Dad’s car. As I got older, I learned more about Elvis as a person and just found his whole story captivating.

Q. You play guitar in the show; do you play any other instruments?

A. I play guitar in the show and the piano. I can also play the bass, drums, and didgeridoo.

Q. What is your favourite Elvis song, and why?

A. My favourite Elvis song is “An American Trilogy.” It’s such a great power song it always stood out to me as a kid and I love singing it. I had the privilege of singing it on the “David Letterman Show” too.

Q. What was it like winning the World Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist at Graceland?  What was the whole experience like?

A. It was a such great experience to win the World’s Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist in Memphis in 2012. Just being in the place Elvis lived and hung out was pretty cool. I only entered the competition because someone I knew egged me on to do it. I never thought for a second they’d give it to an Englishmen but guess I proved myself wrong.

Q. What’s the focus for your show this year?  Do you change the show each year, and what can fans expect if they see you multiple times?

A. The focus of my show is to create a fun evening for the audience, to enjoy myself and to try and do Elvis justice in my performances. The format of the show is the same although I will put different songs in from time to time. Every venue and audience is different so you never know what may happen, as I like to tailor the show to the place.

Q. Do you get recognised out in the “real world” as an Elvis look-a-like?

A. I do get the odd funny look now and again I try and be discreet as possible.

Q. If you could have met Elvis in person, what one question would you ask him and why?

A. It would of been great to have met Elvis and seen him perform. Given the chance, I’d of asked him if he would sing and record one of my original songs. Then I could show it to my grandkids and say I wrote that!

Q. What’s the best and the hardest thing about being an ETA?

A. The best thing about performing as Elvis is I love my job and making people happy it’s a great feeling. The worst thing is trying to find a decent meal on tour!!

Q. If you weren’t doing this as a job, what would you do?

A. I think I’d always be doing something to do with performing music, I would even love to play guitar in an Elvis tribute band – what a great job!

Q. You travel all over the world with this show, how do Elvis fans differ from country to country? 

A. I’m very lucky to have travelled the world performing as Elvis. It’s really testament to his talent that he’s known all over the world from Brazil to New Zealand. Some audiences are more ridged than others but by the end of the night everyone can feel the love and has a great night.