First Night: Postman brings Elvis back to life

The King The Astoria London
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AS ANYONE who has managed to sit through a whole edition of Stars in Their Eyes knows, the desire to dress up as a rock star extends far beyond adolescence.

For some, satisfying these urges may involve playing air guitar in front of the mirror, but for the erstwhile postman Jim Brown, it has signified a drastic change in career. Now known simply as The King, he has recently scored a three-album record deal and last night performed to a packed house as Elvis Presley. Visually, he has appropriated Presley's Vegas era for his act, complete with gold lame jacket, leather trousers and large quiff. But what separates Brown from most Elvis clones is that he sings songs by other dead rock stars, but in an Elvisesque style.

Rather than being met with resigned pity, he was greeted ecstatically by an audience that ranged from teenage to middle-age, rockabilly to raver. Hearing Brown powering his way through such classics as Bob Marley's "No Woman No Cry" and T. Rex's "Twentieth Century Boy", proves oddly uplifting and made you want to go home and plunder your record collection.

And Brown does sound uncannily like Elvis, right down to that nasal trill when he holds a note. On stage he has perfectly captured his idol through a series of Elvis's mannerisms: the scrupulous sneer, the slurred delivery and that familiar stance - legs akimbo with one knee furiously twitching.

The pantomime continued between numbers as Brown assumes the mumbling drawl that always made Presley himself sound like he was half-way through a yawn.

The gig was not without its difficult moments; there was a blood-curdling rendering of Hendrix's "Voodoo Chile" where Brown's voice became startlingy shrill and the soft rock histrionics of his guitarist had some of the more mature audience members staring at their shoes in shame.

But for the most, Brown was at ease with his performance and therefore so was his audience. While we were never lulled into thinking it was the real Elvis on stage, it was hard to remember that up there on stage crooning, sneering and swaggering his way through some of rock's most formidable classics was a postman from Belfast.