Parkes Elvis Festival, 2020: Tribute artist's medical issue while performing

IT may have looked like one of the most dramatic Elvis tribute artist performances of the festival, but for Matt Birse he thought this may be his final performance, ever.

"You can see me grab my arm and move it across to my chest and then I go down to one knee and then I start to fall backwards," he said of video footage of his "medical incident".

"I just burst into tears when I saw it [the video]."

Mr Birse was among the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist performers who took to the stage on Friday at Parkes Leagues Club with the hope of securing a spot in the finals.

In the moments before performing his two songs on stage he was feeling fine, he was laughing and chatting with other competitors.

"We help each other with jewellery and wigs and our costumes, it's a really nice environment," he said.

You can see me grab my arm and move it across to my chest and then I go down to one knee and then I start to fall backwards.

Matt Birse

He sang his first song without fault then the "medical incident" occurred.

"I was halfway through Proud Mary when it happened, my jaw just went numb," he said.

"I felt like I was singing but nothing was coming out.

"The pain shot from my jaw down my arm and then into my chest, it felt like my chest was constricted.

"I remember falling to my knee and then the next thing I was on the ground with eight people around me.

"I thought oh my god this can't be good."

ON STAGE: Matt Birse suffered a "medical incident" midway through his performance in the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist heats on Friday. This photo was taken the following day. Photo: MICK SAMSON

ON STAGE: Matt Birse suffered a "medical incident" midway through his performance in the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist heats on Friday. This photo was taken the following day. Photo: MICK SAMSON

Mr Birse was told he didn't black out, but was not responsive after he collapsed to the ground. He does however remember some things.

"They wanted to get my jumpsuit off me, I had people pulling my left hand trying to get my rings off and I had people pulling my right hand trying to get my rings off.

"They were trying to get my necklace and my wig off.

I remember falling to my knee and then the next thing I was on the ground with eight people around me. I thought oh my god this can't be good.

Matt Birse

"My fear was that if they put a cannula in that they'd get blood on my jumpsuit."

Mr Birse was rushed to Parkes Hospital and while extensive medical tests were conducted medicos put it down to "misadventure"

"I thought what, Bruce Lee died from misadventure," he said.

Medical staff advised that his heart rhythm was not high enough to have been in tachycardia or angina, and said the pain may have been from a pinched nerve or exhaustion.

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Despite not finishing his second song during the heats, Mr Birse still qualified for the finals

"They scored me on the song that I did complete ... I was good enough to get into the top eight," he said.

Mr Birse finished in the top five at Saturday's finals and said he was not deterred by his "medical incident" and would perform at the Viva Surfers Paradise festival in July.

"I got a standing ovation from the judges and everyone in the room [at the finals] it was just amazing," he said.

This is Mr Birse's seventh year at the festival and he finished third in the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist competition in 2017

Despite the initial fear when he collapsed, and the tiredness since, Mr Birse is determined to keep performing at the Parkes Elvis Festival.

"I'll absolutely be back," he said.

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