Nick Abbot 10pm - 1am
Sorry Elvis but I'm not buying your AI return – it’s time to stop obsessing over a bloke who's been dead for 47 years
8 January 2024, 10:12
Elvis Aaron Presley. Born January 8th, 1935. Died August 16, 1977. Reborn November 2024.
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Yes, the “King of Rock and Roll” is back thanks to a new immersive concert experience, using thousands of personal photos and home-video footage to recreate a life-sized digital version of the singer.
We are told that 'Elvis Evolution', made possible by AI and holographic projection, will allow fans to "feel up close and personal" to their favourite star through "never seen before" performances for the first time on a UK stage.
The show is due to open its doors in London later this year and the ‘tech bros’ from the company behind the event are already getting very excited about the possibilities that artificial intelligence can bring to Britain’s live music industry.
Time for a dosage of reality.
The man, who famously died on the toilet, left this planet in 1977. Today, there are estimated to be just under 50,000 musicians working in the UK.
Why oh why are we obsessing about bringing back a bloke who’s been dead for 47 years when there are thousands of young and up-and-coming artists, still very much alive today, who need our support.
The UK’s grassroots music industry has had a particularly rough time recovering from the Pandemic.
Data from the Music Venue Trust shows that, over the past year, 125 venues have shut their doors representing just over 15% of all such spaces in Britain.
These devastating closures have brought with them the loss of 4,000 jobs and £9 million of income for musicians.
Throw in the cost of living and it’s no surprise that grassroots music is described as being “in the middle of a full-blown crisis”.
And yet, with tickets likely to stand at well over £100, we are being asked to take out a small mortgage to go and see a holographic avatar. How utterly depressing!
I am reminded also of a point made by Brian in Cullercoats who called in to Clive Bull’s show on LBC last week to express his despair at how the immersive experience could leave Elvis tribute bands out of pocket.
As always, Brian is on the money!
The 'Elvis Evolution' is however not unique in the fanfare it’s generated since being announced.
Over the past few months, we’ve seen similar levels of excitement being directed towards Abba Voyage, a virtual concert performed in London with avatars of the Swedish pop band.
And who could forget the hype around the new AI-powered Beatles single, the return of The Rolling Stones with their comeback album ‘Hackney Diamonds’ and the announcement of a Girls Aloud reunion tour.
Perhaps this tendency to hark back to the past says something about our feelings towards life today but how else are we going to produce the next era-defining pop or rock band if we don’t start looking forward!
Then there’s the issue of the experience itself.
One of the best things about going to a gig is the connection between fan and artist.
It’s the chants of “one more song” and the moments of unexpected emotion that stay with you at the end of the night.
I struggle to see how ‘AI Elvis’ could replicate this special sense of spontaneity even if albeit visually spectacular.
Have we become so accustomed to the virtual since the pandemic that we’re no longer interested in the real thing?
I fear we are now a nation of Zoomers!
After two years of god-awful lockdowns, it’s time to draw a line under this obsession with all things artificial.
In the spirit of the great Mr Presley I say - what Britain really needs is a little less recreation, a little more reality, please.