“A Tribute to Elvis in Concert” featured two well-known ETAs, Pete Paquette from Milton (announced as Toronto) and Chris Connor from the UK. Since it was my first time seeing either of these ETAs in live performances, I looked forward to an evening of great entertainment based on what I seen on YouTube.
Pete Paquette opened the show wearing a beautiful rhinestone studded gold jacket. Pete’s years as a professional ETA were evident in his confident and polished performance on stage. With his great moves, humour and exceptional vocals, Pete lived up to all expectations. Backed by the sensational singing trio, “The Tonettes”, and accompanied by a great group of selected musicians that make up the Rockin’ Royals, each song was musical joy.
While Pete was off stage changing costumes, we were entertained with a beautifully orchestrated and slowed down version of Elvis’s “One Night with You”. Pete returned to the stage ready to rock and roll in his black leather Elvis outfit from the ’68 Comeback Special. During his performance he mentioned that is was his and his wife, Christina’s, sixth anniversary. He also took a moment to thank his mother-in-law, Connie, for all she does to further his career. I had the pleasure of being introduced to Connie by Cathie Korsakas who was at the show with Collingwood Elvis Festival’s Rosemarie Garrity O’Brien, and Cathie’s cousin Gwen. The three ladies drove all the way from Collingwood to see the show.
After a short intermission, ETA Chris Connor from the UK stepped on stage looking splendid in his light blue jumpsuit with gold detailing, and wearing a gold scarf around his neck. He looked and sounded exactly as he does in videos—handsome and amazingly talented! Chris had great rapport with the audience throughout his set, but his story of the Morris Dancers in Great Britain was perhaps the most amusing. He started out by talking about how country music that is so popular in North America is loathed in the UK, which led to ramblings about the Morris Dancers, which then segwayed into Elvis’s country music songs, and ended with Chris singing “Honky Tonk Angel”.
After being encouraged to sing “Suspicious Minds” during a “should I sing this or this” discussion with the audience (it was already on his playlist btw), Chris removed his gold scarf and donned a passel of scarves provided by someone off stage to give out to the group of ladies already assembled in front of the stage—a group that included me. I never seem to have much luck at being selected to receive scarves during such handout sessions (that is why one of the questions I ask during interviews is, “How do you decide who gets a scarf?”); so as Chris said, “Sorry, I am out of scarves,” and proceeded to shake the hands of the unlucky ladies, I, as the last one in line, kept hold of his hand. Maybe it was because he kept looking at me while he was holding my hand as he sang, or maybe it was because he made no attempt to remove his hand, but for whatever reason I stood there transfixed in the moment. I just could not let go of his heavily ringed hand! Not sure what goes on in the UK during shows, but it is not unusual for ETAs I have met in Ontario to bend down and give a kiss on the cheek to each woman as they shake their hands. I guess maybe I was waiting for that special moment.
Nearing the end of his song, Chris did get down on one knee (as seen in the photo posted earlier on FB) and gave me a kiss on the cheek. It is such a strange feeling to be standing at the stage in front of an audience knowing all eyes are peering at the back of your head. If you read what I wrote about my MDQ experience with ETA Matt Cage, you will know what I mean when I say this was a similar experience. For a brief moment in time, it is as if you and the ETA are the only two people in the entire theatre. The band, the singers, the audience all seem to drift away.
Chris ended the evening with “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You”, which was quite fitting seeing that he left many an audience member feeling that way about him.
After the show, both Pete and Chris made an appearance for a meet-and-greet. It was a nice gesture and showed appreciation for the fans who came to see their show. When it was my turn to speak to Pete and Chris, I blushed when I told Chris that I was frozen in the moment when he held my hand. He gave me a very warm smile. I gave him my business card, and if there is a successful follow-up, I will have an interview with him to post in the months to come.
When I asked Pete and Chris to sign their respective playlist, Pete said, “So that is where my playlist went after my set. We had to get another copy for Chris’s set.” I didn’t know until after the show that on the back of Pete’s playlist was Chris’s playlist. Of course, I apologized, but they just laughed and autographed each sheet. I asked Pete, and Christina, and Pete’s mother-in-law, Connie, about an interview with Pete. It isn’t always easy to get ETAs to commit to an interview due to their busy schedules; but fingers crossed Pete and Chris will both have time because I know these are two ETA interviews you all would like to read.
Thank you, L. MacArthur, for the above photos.