What: ELVIS – The Gospel Collection
Who: Damien Leith
When: 16th August, 2017
Where: Playhouse, The Arts Centre, Melbourne
For more information, please visit www.damienleith.com.au
I was lucky enough to attend Damien Leith’s one-off show at the Playhouse Theatre/The Arts Centre in Melbourne. The date marked forty years since the passing of the King. Singing songs from Elvis Presley’s gospel collection, the acclaimed singer-songwriter and 2006 Australian Idol winner proved once again he can sing anything.
It is difficult to know if the crowd were fans of Damien, Elvis or a combination of both. (His children had also flown down with a couple of friends to see the show). I, being a fan of Damien, wasn’t too familiar with many songs (I counted ten on a very long set list), so for people like me, the concert was a bit of an introduction. Although there were some recognisable classics including Bridge Over Troubled Water and You’ll Never Walk Alone (from 1945 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel and anthem of Liverpool fans).
Dressed in a red blazer and black shirt, pants and shoes, the Irish-born performer, was joined on stage by a fourteen-piece band and back-up singers. Despite a broken shoulder injury making him unable to play guitar, we were treated to the rare-sight of Damien dancing. Although he joked about his lack of abilities, modest being, he can dance! It also felt a more special because we did get to see that different side of him – those of us who’d seen him before.
After an interval, Damien sat at the piano to play a few tunes – Stand By Me with Gavin Chatelier (whom impressed Damien earlier in Tamworth this year), as well as requested fan-favourite Hallelujah (and not technically an Elvis song, but a special treat for the audience and “Damienites”).
At the end of the show, he gave us a medley of Jailhouse Rock, Suspicious Minds and I suspect a third but I can’t remember which one. He also sang American Trilogy and Crying in the Chapel*
For sale at the merchandise desk was a three-song collectors CD for $10 (I believe only 150 were made for the night). Although, as I’ve read many asking for a full release, I suspect a full album will be released in the future (but don’t quote me on that) – but honestly, it would be a shame not to. There’s no denying Damien has a beautiful, soulful voice; if gospel music is about joyous celebration, that’s what we got.
*If anyone is reading this who was there and knows more songs, please let me know below so I can add them in. Not being familiar with Elvis’ songs, I’m unsure of titles.