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Elvis' Birthday Extravaganza
January 2006

I'd seen this show a dozen times or more - Kingsized celebrating the birth or death of Elvis - so I had decided to skip it this time. Even as marvelous as the show has evolved to be, I've seen it, and none of them will top the first time for me, eons ago at the Star Bar when I wasn't even an Elvis fan and they handed out candles to the crowd and Elvis' voice came down from heaven (or the PA, you decide) to tell us how he appreciated all the fans and that some guys name Deacon Lunchbox and Gregory Dean Smalley said to say hi. Then the crowd lit candles and girls cried and  Mike took the stage and laid down the Elvis tunes in a way that made me an Elvis fan.

So I had decided to skip it this time. But then other degenerates asked me if I was going to be there. They had already bought their tickets. Former degenerates even mentioned coming to town for the show. Then Kingsized and Dames Aflame showed up on one of those Good Morning Atlanta shows on TV, hyping new songs, new costumes, new dancing girls, new multimedia spectacle.

Fine, fine, fine, I'll be there, dammit.

So I went down to Variety Playhouse and picked up a ticket at lunch during the week to avoid the TicketBastard "service" and "convenience" charges, dug my Elvis britches out of the closet, brushed the dust off the Elvis shades, and joined the rest of the gang at Euclid Avenue Yacht Club before the show for drinks and food. Appropriately filled for the evening, I headed down the block early to stake out some territory close to the stage. Eventually the rest of the gang shuffled in and soon the curtains opened - to a big movie screen.

The film featured Mike Geier wandering around town asking people about their feelings on Elvis. Some were long-time fans, some couldn't name a single song. It was cute and funny and got boos from the crowd when some professed a lack of love for The King.

The curtains closed, the screen was taken away and you could hear the sounds of preparation on stage. I stuck my camera under the edge of the curtain and snapped a few pictures with the flash off, just for a preview look.

Anticipation built, the fans crowded in closer, and finally came the expected opening fanfare.

The curtains parted to reveal a new backdrop, some new band members, some regulars, a couple of the delicious Dames Aflame, then Mike himself strolling onto stage to take the mike in hand and belt out that baritone voice of his.

If you've never seen this show before, you've really missed something. Even if you're not a latter-day Elvis fan, it's a hell of a show. Dancing girls, horns, backup singers, flashy costumes, the works.

Crap, even Elvis himself would've enjoyed this show.

Wait - maybe he was at the show?

But seriously, even when the band starts jumping around with joy...

the backup singers are wailing soulfully...

the guitarist is bending the notes, the dancers are whipping off pieces of clothing
and even with the light glittering off the rhinestones of the costumes, what it really comes down to for me is Mike's voice and mastery of the material. Holy shit, the man can sing.
Sure, sure, it all comes together, no I in team, blah blah blah... But I've seen a few Elvis impersonators in my time. They may have the costumes, the moves, and do a good job imitating the material.

Mike doesn't waste your time with clownish karate moves between every verse. Despite all the visual spectacle, the music comes first. Random bits and pieces of other tunes slip in unexpectedly and it's clear the band knows what they're doing, and knows how to enjoy it.

Kingsized isn't impersonation, it's a show unto itself.

Too soon, they wrapped things up. The curtains swept across the stage, knocking beer bottles onto the floor and dragging over people's heads.

But everyone lingered for an encore. Again I could hear the sounds of preparation behind the curtain, then another opening fanfare and the curtains opened - halfway. After some back-and-forth with the curtains, they finally opened all the way to reveal the band clad all in white for another round of gospel Elvis.

For the grande finale the Dames Aflame all came out at once, making me shiver and sweat so much it was all I could do to keep the camera pointed straight, never mind held still and in focus.

The curtains swept the edge of the stage clean again and the music quieted, bit by bit as the members cleared the stage, leaving one singer behind. I snapped a few more pictures under the edge of the curtain as the show slowly died.

The band came out to greet family, friends and fans as the rest of us cleared the room.

We headed up the block for a nightcap, but found the Yacht Club packed wall-to-wall, so we headed on to Front Page News instead. Over late night snacks and a round of drinks, I spotted a depressingly timely and ironic poster over our heads.

Haven't had enough? How about some movies?

Yeah, I know, both movies feature dancing girls. I honestly didn't intend to do that, but if you don't like it I'll refund your money.

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