In the same year that has given us a celebratory, but sad final bow to Godzilla's 50 year reign with his last film release, another multi-generational giant refuses to take his. Not that this Elvis is feeling the need to upon the back of not only an equally stellar career, but especially so with a highly productive 2004 in the dual release of his classical-arranged "Il Sogno" alongside his multi-Grammy nominated "The Delivery Man". Award nominations and accolades aside, his output and latest Imposters revelation gives more than a welcomed fair warning that there are no signs of retirement. With a bookend to bookend robust journey dispensed in both forms, a clearly reborn, reinvigorated, refocused and inspired Elvis live Tokyo transmissions once again carried weight like the much adored atomic bred reptilian's when squaring off with his greatest foils downtown.
Beautifully challenged and articulating with the greatest of ease seen in years, Elvis is clearly enjoying the amassed fruits of his collaborative labours of love alongside his Imposters. And for good reason as The Imposters themselves are a crack unit in themselves with the playful pepperings of keyboardist, Theramin wielding and sound shaper extraordinaire Steve Nieve alongside timekeepers Davey Faragher on bass and Pete Thomas on the kit who collectively provide the necessary anchors, ensuring the delivery of another wonderfully satisfying set.
Simple yet powerfully true as always, Elvis' third visit to Tokyo's famed and intimate Koukasai Nenkin Kaikan (Hall) was another exclamation mark to his current globe-spanning "Delivery Man" tour. Made even that more sweeter due to the fact that this added date sandwiched within a nationwide jaunt, the man whose boundaries keep expanding displayed his surging growing power likened to artists half his age with a fluid non-stop near 2 hour set that dutifully gave his Japan based faithful plenty to duly savour.
As always for any well-honed legendary figure, the question was not how well the delivery would be, but what it would entail for a man responsible for 20 studio albums alone and the subsequent mammoth choices of songs to select from for his subjects here in Japan. Exuberating a budding confidence from his last group effort, Elvis heavily leaned upon it while not denying favourites to be heartily embraced and consumed. Opening up with some proper arena rock riffs, he launched into his Attractions era classic "I Hope You're Happy Now" as the fully filled 2,000 seat venue came happily alive as all seated quickly rose to their feet and remained there enthralled til show close. The spirited pace continued unabated with other old gems such as the racing "Waiting For The End Of The World" before breaking into a new one, the meaty and meandering bass heavy led groove of "Button My Lip."
As Davey walked the walk with his Hofner bass, he was sumptously complimented by Thomas's fills and Nieve's dissonant pepperings, helping give Elvis a proper platform to beautifully anoint his latest wares created to all within earshot. Changing the pace, but staying with his latest, they rolled into the reflective waltzing, stop-start strolling of "Country Darkness." Upon its completion, a rare break in music was measured from the bespeckled man himself, "Good evening...How are ya?" The instantaneous thunderous reception, no matter the language difference nor in his brevity lessened the wild enthusiasm inside. Remaining a constant throughout, as with all affairs, certain tracks nevertheless resonated deepest.
The sweeping tender "All This Useless Beauty" coupled with the yearning heartbreak of "So Like Candy" struck universal cords as Davey stepped it up in the latter, filling in for the big vocal shoes of Emmylou Harris as he echoed Elvis soulfully in its stripped down country twang. The sparse "Complicated Shadows" followed by the blues-infused rockabilly "Needle Time" lined up matters towards a solid finish for the imminent and filling encore. Beginning with "(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes" and sliding into the Wilco-inspiring/inspired country up tempo of a Lucinda Williams-less, but still savory "There's A Story In Your Voice," a wholly energized Elvis and Imposters gleefully dispensed "(What's So Funny Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding" to a raucous house with Davey clearly beaming his joy in playing this all-time favourite of many.
Alas, it wouldn't be Elvis without his signature show closer. This night was no different as the lights dimmed and a sole light focused on him as he forked over his ultimate and eery masterful ode to pining, unleashing the ever delightfully disturbing "I Want You" to finish off this town just as that big green guy has done so for decades over as well. Yet unlike that giant who has gone out with a box office bang, this giant shall keep coming back for more and more in 2005 and beyond in a host of ways to triumph. Nope. Elvis is far from dead. Like any mover or shaker, he's diversifying his portfolio, ensuring his health and longevity.