Fever In Vegas

August 1972

By Dick Smith

 

On August 6, Ellen and I flew to Vegas to see the greatest show on earth six times in a row. Nancy Becher joined us at the International, which is more the Las Vegas Hilton and less the International every trip we make. Six shows, two kisses, three handshakes, one scarf, and about forty tons of dynamite later, it was all over... but here's what we saw. 

With minor variations, the line-up of songs was as follows: See See Rider 2) Proud Mary 3) Until Itís Time For You To Go 4) You Don't Have To Say You Love Me 5) You'Ve Lost That Loving Feelin' 6) Polk Salad Annie 7) What Now My Love 8) Fever 9) Love Me 10) Blue Suede Shoes 11) One Night 12) Heartbreak Hotel 13) Little Sister/Get Back 14) Hound Dog 15) Suspicious Minds 16) My Way 17) American Trilogy 18) Big Hunk O' Love 19) Can't Help Falling In Love.   

Sean Shaver © August 1972

" See See Rider " is a fine opener, and he really belts it out with more punch and feeling than he managed to burn into it in February of 1970. " Fever "is one of the most solidly professionally executed numbers I've ever seen Elvis do. Moving to the edge of stage center as the spotlight narrowed to a sliver of white light, Elvis said, " Now I want to get sexy for a minute, " to which many Elvisly intoxicated females either groaned or screamed or did both. The band relaxed on this one, which was performed with only Jerry Scheff on bass and Ronnie Tutt on drums. Each time Tutt accentuated the end of a phrase with a hard drum roll, Elvis snapped his head back and to one side, often clowning and pretending to have hurt his neck. 

Easily the greatest rocker I've ever seen Elvis do in person is " Big Hunk 0' Love, " which is begun unbelievably fast by Glenn Hardin on piano. Hardin's great intro is later topped by a fantastic Jerry Lee Lewis-style break, followed by an unsurpassed guitar solo by James Burton. Elvis' voice is raw, powerful, bluesy, and 100% rockin' on this one, and all I can say is that this one should be included on the next live album for the benefit of all the fans who haven't heard or seen Elvis perform it live. 

Elvis introduced two new ballads this time; two of the most sensitive songs he has ever sung. Although the words to " What Now My Love " convey uncomfortable associations regarding Elvis' present marital status, such associations are apparently coincidental; it is almost certain that he had already chosen this song for inclusion before the trouble began. The song is sensitive, sad, beautiful, and, at the end, powerfully delivered. Elvis was apparently aware that many fans thought that his inclusion of this song, with its lyrics " What now my love, now that you've left me, how can I live through another day. . . " and the other new ballad, Frank Sinitra's " My Way, " which carries a similar " the end is near " message, had a relationship to his personal troubles. To dispell this association, he said one night just after finishing "My Way, " the following: " Ladies and gentlemen, I want to say something seriously. I want to make it clear that this song has absolutely nothing to do with my private life in any way whatsoever. I like the song, it's a good song, and that's why we're doing it. That end-of-the-road stuff might be fine for Sinatra, but not for me. "   

Sean Shaver © August 1972

I've never seen Elvis so relaxed, self-assured, and genuinely and openly having so much fun performing. All of this was more noticable this time than ever before in Vegas. Throughout each of the six shows we saw, he laughed, joked and teased often. Example: he introduced J. D. Sumner as " The lowest bass singer in the world, and also one of the lowest guys I've ever met. " 

I've seen Elvis perform before when he's obviously been enjoying himself, and also, (Feb., 1971) when he's appeared to be pretty bored ), but he's never appeared to be having so much fun as this time. As a result, he burnt more fire into the old rockers, and poured more soul into the newer ballads, and was simply greater than ever before. What more can I say.  

You can see more pictures of the August/September 1972 Vegas season in the Jumpsuit Junkies section at : 1972-1, 1972-2, 1972-4, 1972-10, 1972-13.

Originally published in Strictly Elvis No. 58