Gig Review: Elvana at Rock City

Words: Lawrence Poole
Photos: Lawrence Poole
Monday 01 April 2024
reading time: min, words

With the media full of reports and tribute shows to mark the 30th anniversary of the death of revered Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, it seems a great time to once again breathe new life into his incredible cannon of material, but with a notable twist - performed by an Elvis-fronted singer in a skeleton-embossed jumpsuit. Yep, you've read that right. What Seattle’s finest would’ve made of all of this is anyone’s guess, but you’d like to think he would have a wry smile at the thought.

The brainchild of North Easterner Paul Kell, the collective formed a decade ago after being asked to cover the grunge behemoths’ music at a friend’s party. One thing led to another and for years now they’ve been hitting towns, cities and festivals up and down the land every weekend bringing their Vegas-infused rock and roll circus to the masses.

And a sold-out Rock City crowd were clearly ready for the party - a smattering of white jumpsuit-clad revellers are dotted across the audience, while sunglasses of all shapes and sizes, in tribute to Cobain and The King himself, are even more prominent.

Arriving on stage to the strains of Frankie Valli’s Grease Is The Word, Kell and Co waste no time setting about things and giving their acolytes maximum bang for their buck.

Nevermind’s Stay Away segways joyously into Presley’s debut single That’s All Right (a mind-blowing 70 years old this year), while Bleach’s beautiful About A Girl switches up in mega kitsch-style to It’s Now Or Never and Dumb blossoms magnificently into Always On My Mind - sparking a huge swathing sing-a-long.

At times you have to step outside of yourself as it all feels like a rather trippy fever dream. One minute huge mosh circles are being formed and limbs are flying everywhere, the next, uber ballad Love Me Tender has friends, couples and gangs of boozy hen and stag dos arm-in-arm bellowing along.

Kell works the crowd like an absolute pro - flitting from podium to podium, crowd surfing and even making an appearance on the balcony, much to the delight of the ticket holders positioned up there.

By the time A Little Less Conversation rips into Smells Like Teen Spirit, it’s frankly, pure, mesmerising chaos.

Perhaps Nirvana’s most affecting moment, Come As You Are, brings proceedings to a close with giant yellow inflatable balloons bouncing around the venue turning middle-aged men and women into giddy kids again.

Sometimes looking for the sense in something is a futile, needless objective. Elvana are simply the tonic you never knew you needed.

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