Billboard (p.34) - "It's all inventive and invigorating, offering proof that Presley's music can handle being all shook up."
During the '50s and '60s, there was no bigger extravaganza in pop music than an Elvis Presley concert -- whether it was 1956 in Fort Wayne, Indiana or 1969 at the International Hotel in Las Vegas, where he eventually appeared to more than two million paying fans. Forty years after he debuted at the International, the Cirque du Soleil show Viva Elvis presented a similar extravaganza, this one complete with dance, acrobatics, live music, and video clips -- that list prioritized, no doubt, in order of importance. After all, an extravaganza in 2010 terms is quite different than 50 years earlier, especially when the star of your show isn't around to ignite the fans. Musical producer Erich van Tourneau displays a good working knowledge of Elvis' career arc (thanks in part to preeminent Elvis historian Ernst Jorgensen), and the chronology of Elvis' life is preserved surprisingly well, complete with his energetic rock & roll beginnings, zesty but insubstantial pop for the film soundtracks, and his latter-day apotheosis via rock music and stagecraft. The long-build opening comes courtesy of "Also Sprach Zarathustra," Elvis' opening music for years, before the show launches into "Blue Suede Shoes." Then, it rewinds Elvis' story to the beginning, with his first major hit, "That's All Right." (Iggy Pop fans may note that it's retro-fitted to sound like a "Lust for Life" knock-off.) The show even uses "Love Me Tender" to portray his Army years, with a female duet partner and photographs of him in uniform. The soundtrack years include "King Creole" and "Bossa Nova Baby," fair choices to feature the frothy pop of Elvis' film-as-paycheck years. Then, the last half of the disc includes his '70s performance prime, when "Burning Love" and "Suspicious Minds" signaled the advent of the full-throated, body-suited Elvis giving it everything he had in front of Vegas gamblers (and fans). ~ John Bush