DEAD ELVIS & HIS ONE MAN GRAVE SHOW
+ ONE MAN DESTRUCTION SHOW
Revolver, Oslo
June 4, 2010

By DON SIMON

ShareThere is a lingering misconception that one-man bands are somehow less than deserving of serious attention. The singer-songwriter with the acoustic guitar and harmonica faces no real stigma in the world of rock’n’roll - but the moment he puts that drum on his back, he’s looked on as a clown.
 
Thankfully, there are a growing number of one-man bands who play with more power than many a three-piece group, armed with an inventive array of percussion instruments and an obsession for rock’n’roll from the garage to the grave. Two of the best are One Man Destruction Show from Bournemouth in the UK and Dead Elvis & His One Man Grave from Disgraceland, USA by way of the Netherlands, and they’re in Oslo to play a one-man double bill at one of Norway’s rockingest venues, Revolver.
 
One Man Destruction Show – or OMDS – is known to a good many folks in Melbourne and Sydney after basing himself in the Victorian capital for about nine months in 2007. Between his gigs and his busking appearances – all using his home-made amplifier suitcase (which doubles as a kick drum) – he gained many admirers among punters and bands like The Exotics during his time in Australia.
 
With hi-hat, suitcase kick drum and a drumstick (or sometimes a maraca) clutched between his second and third fingers to hit the snare on the downstroke of his guitar, he’s got all the percussion an act could ever need – as well as a great guitar style, voice and stage presence.
 

Within seconds of him starting, the curious crowd are grinning in disbelief at one man making such a wonderful racket. Taking his cues mainly from garage rock across the decades, his set is about half covers and half his own numbers, but the overall effect is totally original. From The King Khan & BBQ Show’s “Waddlin’ Around” to The Cramps’ “Mystery Plane” and Eddie Cochran’s “Jeannie Jeannie Jeannie”, OMDS does more than justice to his musical forebears, while originals like “Paperskin” and “Toothache Heart” stand tall in a set alongside such illustrious company.
 
There’s plenty of variety in the show and his percussion technique is nothing short of brilliant – some of the songs have time changes that would flummox many specialist drummers. By the time OMDS finishes his set any of those in the venue who doubted the merits of a one-man band are converted to the cause.
 
Dead Elvis & His One Man Grave makes an entrance that the King himself would have been proud of, with the DJ cueing up a suitably pompous entrance track and Dead Elvis leaping forth to greet the audience and make karate moves, resplendent in a white jumpsuit and skull mask with an Elvis quiff.


 
He uses a regular bass drum and a kick pedal hitting a vertical snare drum, leaving his hands free to work his guitar magic better than the real deal ever did (and make more karate moves). The man (if indeed man he is) is no mere imitator though – Dead Elvis takes care of his own business from the grave, and he regales the crowd with originals from his latest album, Dig ‘Em Up (vinyl only, folks). Songs like “Shake” and “Get Outta My Grave” seethe with energy, and his raw guitar power and primitive percussion style fit the stage schtick perfectly.
 
All in all, an unforgettable night – and both these one-man bands are keen to tour anywhere they can get to. It might not be long before we see one or both of them in an Australian venue – if you’re curious, check ‘em out on myspace:

Dead Elvis: http://www.myspace.com/onemangrave

One Man Destruction Show: http://www.myspace.com/omds

 

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