If you’ve ever wondered what a Mexican Elvis-centric show would be like to attend, wonder no more – El Vez is in Australia to answer the call. A world renowned entertainer, the ‘real Rey Del Rock ‘n’ Roll’ has been bringing his eclectic hybrid of Americana and Mexicano music to crowds throughout the US, Europe and for over two decades. His Australian tour kicks off tomorrow night in Melbourne at the Corner, where the El Vez experience will take punters into Christmas with more cheer than you can probably poke a stick at and for the King himself, it’s an excellent way to cap off what’s been a mammoth 2015.
“I have another band called The Little Richards,” he explains. “We just did a tour of Italy and Spain. I did some El Vez stuff in London, I was there for Dia De Los Muertos. I’ve been home for a tiny bit, I’ve done some [US] east coast and west coast Christmas shows with El Vez – nothing like a Merry Mex-mas! It’s going to be very warm [in Australia] and I’m looking forward to that.”
“It’s really nice.” he says of the response to the El Vez shows. “I am the luckiest Elvis impersonator, I would say! I’ve been doing it for 27 years, so it’s pretty fun and I have great fans who come up to the shows. I think the interesting thing is that lots of things I deal with include immigration, I’m a Mexican Elvis, but when you apply it to immigration problems in Australia and all around the world…someone can apply it to themselves. When I play in Germany, I’ve had Turkish kids say, ‘Oh I love your song “Immigration Time” because you’re speaking about our situation, moving here to Germany,’. It’s global. Sometimes I say, ‘When you come to see an El Vez show, you’ll be proud to be Mexican,’ but no matter what you are, it’s the idea of wearing that crown. You too can be king. Obviously, Elvis is an American pie in the sky, the American dream type, but I think that success is a global thing – music and Elvis are pretty universally loved. The energy I put into the show, the enthusiasm and the charisma gives off this thing like, ‘Yeah! You can wear the crown too!’. Here’s my tribute to Elvis, but I’m putting my cultural spin on it, talking about current situations and people can understand where I’m coming from.”
Nothing about the El Vez show is cheap cut from a Las Vegas-style revue, it has to be said. There’s an ambitious and driven spark that remains ignited throughout the shows that has kept audiences engaged for years. And as El Vez (real name Robert Lopez) has pointed out, the songs he sings are conversation starters as much as they are fun musical romps.
“It’s sad to say that I’ve been singing “Immigration Time” for 27 years,” he says. “Nothing has evolved and people are still saying, ‘Close the doors now, we can’t let this go on.’ It’s based on media fear, so there’s always something to talk about, keeping your guard up. Things like gay marriage and women’s rights have passed, but there’s always someone willing to shut it down again. People need to be entertained and rock and roll music, whatever version it takes on, I think is a good platform. [As El Vez] I want to give you a good time, but here are the ideas I want you to walk away with.”
As the audience demographics widen and more and more people are welcomed into the El Vez family with each tour, these shows act as introductory lessons on the appeal of Elvis and some fantastic music well beyond the years of some of the younger fans. El Vez loves this aspect of the shows, relishing the opportunity to expose new fans to a whole classic catalogue of music.
“It always amazes me,” he admits. “There’s a new generation of kids that Elvis means nothing to and it’s interesting to play to them because I’ve had kids go, ‘Oh! I can go back and look that up,’. My audience’s age group can be from their 20’s to their 60’s. I think the older ones get all my rock and roll references, but the kids who don’t get all the references are seeing a really good show. For a 55 year old man wearing a patent leather jumpsuit with dancing girls and doing the splits in a show that has eight costume changes, it’s a good show! If you don’t get any of the political references, the musical references or the historical references, you’re seeing a pretty good rock and roll show!”
Catch El Vez at the Corner Hotel in Melbourne on December 24th and at the Newtown Social Club in Sydney on December 26th & 27th. After the Falls Festival, El Vez heads to Ballarat to play the Karova Lounge on January 2nd before winding up his Australian tour on January 3rd, playing the Westernport Hotel!
The Falls Festival kicks off next week!
December 28th – January 1st | Lorne, VIC
December 29th – January 1st | Marion Bay, TAS
December 31st – January 2nd | Byron Bay, NSW