|Review by Thomas Nilsson
Elvis Presley as recorded Opening Night on August 19, 1974. This time, Elvis had rehearsed many new songs; he wanted to change the repertoire. Unfortunately, most songs were dropped after Opening Night. A reason might be lack of response from the audience, who knows except Mr. Presley?
Anyway, the show is very different from the otherwise pretty predictable Elvis shows by 1974. No 'Also Sprach Zarathustra' or 'See See Rider', instead 'Big Boss Man' is the opening number, and a good version too. Follower is 'Proud Mary', a song that was dropped around 1972/1973 from the ordinary repertoire, also a good number. Then comes 'Down In The Alley', the one and only (?) live version, which is pretty good. As is 'Good Time Charlie's Got The Blues', probably also the only live version. After Elvis sung the line "Play Around You Loose Your Wife" he added, "already done that" and after the line "Play too long you loose your life" he added, "almost did that". According to some of the former members of the Memphis Mafia, the story is true, not long before he almost died of an overdose, which does not seem totally unlikely. A couple of days later, Elvis made some strange comments about his former marriage and newspaper magazines, but on this show he is concentrated.
Every song is performed well, except for the 50's numbers, this show only 'Love Me Tender' and 'Hound Dog', the third, 'My Baby Left Me' is performed rather well. That is also the case with 'Bridge Over Troubled Water', not a bad version, but then again not as good as in 1970 or 1972. 'Never Been To Spain' a regular song two years earlier is performed very well, as is the two new numbers, 'It's Midnight' and 'If You Talk In Your Sleep'. 'I'm Leavin' is another very well-performed song, as is 'Let Me Be There' and 'Softly As I Leave You' performed for the first time (with Sherril Nielsen that is, Elvis did a solo version in 1973, available on Opening Night '72). Probably the recording is a tiny bit too slow, as with other soundboards from this period, for especially when Elvis talks, his voice seem somewhat deep, it is not audible in the songs, fortunately only when talking. 'If You Love Me (Let Me Know)' was another new number, again very well performed. 'Polk Salad Annie' sounds as usual, that is good, and after the still brief band introductions, 'Promised Land' follows, also for the first time. It is a good version, but neither of the different live-versions I have heard beat the studio-version, that has more energy and power. On this track, if not before, you can here that James Burton is a bit back in the mix and Glenn D Hardin is up-front.
Telly Savalas was in the audience and is introduced, followed by 'My Baby Left Me' and 'Bridge Over Troubled Water', both earlier mentioned. 'Fever' is as always pretty good, 'Hound Dog' is rather bad, and the concert is finished with 'Can't Help Falling In Love', which is faded out after about a minute. No greater loss there!
All in all, it is a very good concert, with a very varied and modern repertoire, perhaps too modern for the audience. Elvis does not talk very much; he is rather quiet, probably nervous (as on the "Aloha show). The sound is very good, though it could be better.
It is almost a must have, because of its historical value, too bad there weren't more shows like these...
# Note: Some of the rehearsals for this show can be found on a 2 Disc set called From Sunset Boulevard To Paradise Road (which also contains the concert in equal quality) and on another bootleg called "Magic Moments. RCA has released two numbers from the rehearsals, The Twelfth Of Never and Softly As I Leave You.
© Thomas Nilsson, Sweden.