EL VEZ with the CHICKENS at Lee's Palace, September 21. Tickets: $12.50. Attendance: 500. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
the crowd at lee's was still abuzz from the rousing opening set by the Chickens when some lout with frizzy hair appeared onstage with a brew in hand. It definitely wasn't El Vez. "Oh my god, it's that Kids in the Hall guy!" gasped the mustached gent next to me pointing at grinning guest MC Dave Foley.
Besides being a loyal El Vez fan, Foley also happens to be engaged to backing vocalist Priscillita of the Lovely Elvettes. And after some drawer-dropping shenanigans, our kid made way for the evening's main attraction, El Vez, who came out bobbing and weaving in boxing shorts.
In the Gospel according to the Mexican Elvis, there's no separation between church and ring, and he had no problem mixing sparring moves with clasped-hand genuflections in his elaborate choreography. It's all part of the Las Vegas-style spectacle El Vez has been bringing to rock clubs for years.
The difference in this show was that the religious subtext provided the charismatic frontman with a wealth of new wardrobe possibilities beyond the traditional flared jumpsuit, ranging from an ancient Aztec-ish feathery number to a floppy-white-angel-wings-and-matching-vinyl-trousers ensemble.
From the enthusiastic whoops, raised bottles and frenzied Mexican flag-waving that greeted each costume change, it was clear that the subdued mood that had taken over local clubs during the past week had finally passed.
His reworking of Iggy Pop's Lust For Life as Lust For Christ proved to be an awesome closer, but for all the campy comedy there were a number of unexpectedly moving moments, particularly in his understated reading of the Eagles' (via Elvis) Trying To Get To You, which seemed to catch people off guard. That's the El Vez edge on all the other pretenders -- it's called soul.