Eilert Pilarm – a fool such as I

Sunkits vän Magnus Sandberg gick och såg Eilert Pilarm i sin hemstad Gävle. Fascinerades och skrev. På engelska. Alltså: Eilert Pilarm live på Heartbreak Hotel i Gävle den 8 mars 8 2001.

Eilert Pilarm-posterI was looking forward to the concert this night, Eilert Pilarm was about to sing, and I have enjoyed his off beat interpretation of Elvis’ wellknown repertoir for some 5 years. I have never seen him perform live. The concert was starting at 11 pm, at the Elvis-soaked ”The Heartbreak Hotel” in Gävle, Sweden. This is the place to go to if you are middle aged and like to dance to fifties rock and schlager. I have been there a few times before and it is quite amazing, no hostile atmosphere as the places with younger crowds in this town can have. Often very drunk guests, but big smiles and a companero approach. I drank a bottle of red wine to my dinner, just to get me in the right mood.

In the taxi I was adviced to buy rave music, the driver was playing some of that techno I can’t stand, and it was a little annoying. I told him I was going to see an Elvis impersonator who sang quite funny, but he did not get it, instead he complained about the places in the town, that there were no places for rave’s anymore. I was glad when I got out of his car.

The ticket was about $8, nothing to complain about, and I instantly felt that this was going to be a special night because IT WAS CROWDED. The middle aged seemed to have stayed home, and instead it was people in their twenties there. Eilert Pilarm may have gathered attention from a whole new audience since he started to show up on the commercial television doing advertising playing himself for the Kelda company. I stood 30 minutes and waited to order a cider, the personel had T-shirts with Eilert Pilarm prints, made especially for the evening, and I thought for a while that I skould ask them how much they costed, but I choosed not to. All of a sudden I heard the wellknown voice of Eilert and when I turned around the small stage with the dance floor was very crowded, I did not see Eilert, but I knew he was somewhere in that mess performing.

I lit a cigarette and started to move forward into the crowd, while paying attention to the peoples faces and words. Only happy smiles to my surprise and an occasional ”he is sooo bad.. It’s incredible” or ”he is so funny!”. While coming close enough so I could see him I parked myself at one of the loudspeakers, the volume was quite low so it was not painful. A little lowdown was that he performed with a prerecorded tape, but he sang for real. There was something about his eyes that hit me, he was enjoying himself bigtime! His eyes shined like stars! The crowd pulled out their hands towards him wanting him to touch them and so he did between the songs, to their joy. I noticed some affacionados that smiled towards me, like they were saying ”is it not great?”… ”he is for real!”…

Are You Lonesome Tonight, Blue Suede Shoes, Don’t Be Cruel and Hound Dog was among the songs he sung, now for those of you who have not heard him I can tell you that he doesn’t know how to speak English, he just tries to sing the same tones as his beloved Elvis does, and sometimes he gets it all wrong. But that only makes it better, of course. Then he started singing Blue Hawaii and I screamed like all the others ”YEAH EILERT EILERT EILERT”. I noticed that the people behind me, who was merely laughing at first was all exitement now. HE HAD US ALL UNDER HIS SPELL!!!

Pretty soon everyone was dancing like Elvis himself was on stage, and there was a real loving feeling in the air. Some of the elder ones looked really nostalgic, liked they missed their youth. I think it went on for about an hour, he delivered the classics from his CDs, and even some stuff that I did not know about. Suddenly it was over, but we wanted more, so a lot of screams later he came up on stage and performed a very touching version of A fool such as I. The words hit me and I felt a sadness, but not for long, Eilert was really happy this night and he made us all feel a little better, and I left the place while he was doing his last number. I walked home in the darkness, bought a hot dog… Everything was back to normal again. But the memory lives on. A memory of an honest man doing his best. He is very touching and people feel that this guy does not fool you like many of the other artists performing nowadays. Eilert Pilarm is something else.

Av Magnus Sandberg
© Magnus Sandberg, 2001

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