Canal House – Rob Kemp – The Elvis Dead

Back in May I went to Derby to see a gloriously bonkers idea of a show called The Elvis Dead and it was superb. I commented in my review back then that I’d be surprised if Rob Kemp didn’t have a cult hit on his hands and I was spot on. People were queueing around the block to see it and this became THE must see show of the festival. I elected to see it again tonight because I was interested in seeing how it had changed over the months and also because it is a ruddy funny show.

Canal House was pretty much chockablock with people to see it and there were a lot of familiar faces present. I loved the thrill of anticipation that was in the air when Kemp took to the stage, wearing an improved costume. He began by explaining the concept, which didn’t take long and his manner of doing so instantly endeared him to the audience. Kemp is probably the best liked chap on the midland’s comedy circuit and him standing there with a big knowing grin on his face looking at the room as if to say ‘yes, I know it is ludicrous, but there you go’ went down a treat.

The show concerns the film the Evil Dead 2 retold through some very smartly modified Elvis songs and that is simple enough. The genius partly comes from imagining this idea in the first place and from Rob’s sheer commitment to it. For the duration of the show, he lives the role, although on the occasion when he swaps the Mississippi twang of Elvis for his native Brummie accent when he breaks the fourth wall it brought the house down.

This is a show that had the audience performing the backing vocals, clapping and stamping their feet in time to some classics. It is quite a visual show and if the lights are angled towards the screen this can make it tricky to see the relevant sections of the film and anyone sat at the back would miss Rob rolling around like a man possessed, but even with that he is vocal in making it clear what is occurring. There were some beautiful moments during this show, such as Rob making a quick recovery when the mic lead detached, his forays into the audience, the alternative hi 5 and when Banksie waved his lighter during one of the crooning numbers, which prompted a wonderfully fast quip in response from Kemp.

This is a magnificent show and I can understand why merchandise will soon be available.


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