'I approach it with humility'
SEEING Elvis, Godlike, glowing and at the top of his game in the documentary That's The Way It Is would be enough to shake up any impressionable nine-year-old.
And it was a formative moment for Paul Lillie, who heads to Swansea's Grand Theatre tonight at 7.30pm, to play The King in Elvis Is In The Building.
He says he often gets a touch of fever at the thought of stepping into those shoes.
"Elvis was the greatest entertainer and as a singer, he could do everything.
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"So as a tribute singer you have no choice but to approach the show with some humility.
"I'm not up there saying I am Elvis, but we try to recreate the kind of entertaining shows he put on."
Not one of those misguided folks who dismiss post-army Elvis as lame, Paul is happy to dip into the Las Vegas years and the glories of the '68 Comeback Special, with tonight's show taking on a flashback style.
"I know the post-army era is a problem for rock 'n roll purists, but during the Las Vegas shows he just became the world's greatest all-round entertainer.
"And later numbers like Suspicious Minds and In The Ghetto were incredible.
"The films are what they are, light-hearted entertainment, but if you look at the Comeback Special and the Las Vegas shows you see someone who could do everything and who had a lot of fun with his band doing it.
"You see him as a real team player — the way he interacts and jokes with his band is lovely and we try to capture some of the same spontaneity."
Like Presley, Paul's own musical tastes dip into many wells and alongside paying homage to The King he does a turn or two as David Bowie and Marc Bolan, George Michael and Jon Bon Jovi.
He also stepped in to front Mud when Les Grey died.
It must be a disorienting way to spend a working life, but, he says, it is good therapy and a whole lot of fun.
"If you saw me in the street you might not think I was the kind of person who did this for a living. But I love the theatre of it all. I love putting on the costume and make-up and approaching it like an actor, as theatre."
And while it might seem like a country mile from Presley to George Michael, all roads lead back to The King, says Paul.
"Everyone has been influenced by Elvis and they all owe a lot to him.
"Led Zeppelin are one of my all-time favourite bands and there was talk of them working with Elvis at one time.
"Can you imagine that?
"But they always acknowledged Elvis, as everyone should."