red lights


Inheriting Elvis' throne during a
booming birthday bash

"The Dream King" Trent Carlini
Rosemont Theatre
Rosemont, IL
Jan. 7, 2006
Trent Carlini

Story and Photos By Andy Argyrakis

Around this time every year with the holidays gone and winter settling in, there's not a whole lot to look forward to in the music world. But thankfully the first full weekend of each New Year is always packed with celebrations revolving around one particular performer's birthday, who's not only stood the test of the ages since his untimely passing, but is largely regarded as the greatest entertainer to ever walk the earth. Though that's up for debate depending on what circle one travels- especially considering impact of The Beatles from the British Invasion and Michael Jackson in pop pretenses- no one can question Elvis Presley's continued reign as the King of Rock & Roll.

Trent Carlini Although his legacy has been preserved with many wonderful tribute acts, boxed sets and books, it's also been marketed to the utmost degree of unnecessary products and cheesy impersonators. Out of that plethora of packaging, re-packaging and rehashing, it's sometimes a challenge to cut through the junk and find the real gems in upholding this lineage. But fans needed to look no further than the area's top birthday bash (if not one of the most looked to on the whole Elvis loving globe) than the Rosemont Theatre where famed tributary Trent Carlini transformed into "The Dream King." The Chicago born singer is considered at the top of the crop when it comes to recreators, spanning the stages of Las Vegas' most classy venues to international acclaim with his slickly choreographed and incredibly accurate show depicting this all time musical legend.

While acts centered around are a dime a dozen these days, Carlini sliced through the cheapness and delivered his interpretation with class at his latest Illinois appearance. He brought additional legitimacy to the table from performing with former Presley collaborators like J.D. Sumner & the Stamps Quartet, guitarist Charlie Hodge and drummer D.J. Fontana, while the performance was also rooted in accurate band arrangements and costuming. Carlini covered Presley in a career spanning set, bringing to life many famous moments exactly as they happened. From a recollection of military days to movie roles to the comeback special and beyond, he looked like Elvis reincarnated with similar squeals following from the faithful. The performance was also especially believable because Carlini perfected all the King's mannerisms, executing signature hip swivels, facial expressions and scarf distribution to throngs of screaming women.

While such situations could appear campy and the glitz went a bit over the top at times, it's important to remember that's exactly how Elvis was and it was a model that's engrained him in the eternal fabric of pop culture. And while some seductive moments were worth a chuckle or two, the musical canon presented more than made up for such hiccups. Most of the essential hits were present, along with nuggets nestled deep in the vaults, though the bulk could be found for the casual listener off Presley's 2002's compilation ELV1S: 30 #1 Hits (RCA). Yet those tunes were exactly what people paid to hear, from the quiver of "Blue Suede Shoes," to the twists of "All Shook Up" and the theatrics of "Heartbreak Hotel." That list went on and on covering other vital bases, like the tender hearted "Can't Help Falling In Love," the rump shaking "Viva Las Vegas," the romantic "(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear" and the show stopping "Suspicious Minds." When all packed together throughout a two hour evening, Carlini did exactly what his show's "Dream King" title implied, taking attendees on a time warp that was so convincing, it felt as if the actual Elvis was in the building.

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