September /October 1974 tour
By Rocky Barra
all of the times I have had the pleasure of seeing Elvis perform, his recent
October tour is going to be the hardest to review. I was fortunate enough to see
seven shows this time: Detroit on September 29, South Bend on the 30th and
October 1, October 2nd in St. Paul, back in Detroit on the 4th, and twice in
Indianapolis on October 5th. Obviously, this schedule involved quite a bit of
driving. . . but when you're an Elvis fan, you can count on putting quite a few
extra miles on your car.
J.A.T. Publishing © South Bend, IN. October 1st 1974
I will attempt to review the September 30th concert at South Bend. For those of
you who attended this show.... you really saw something! I honestly think that
this was about the best I have seen Elvis in concert during the last two years.
He was appearing at the new Notre Dame coliseum. It is, beyond a doubt, the most
beautiful and functional structure of it's type in the country. Aside from
seating over 12,000 in the, auditorium, there was an indoor hockey arena, a
fantastic indoor track plant, meeting rooms, restaurants, and a " hall of
fame " that depicted many of the sports greats that have attended Notre
Dame over the years. The arena was accoustically one of the best Elvis has
played. Knowing Elvis' love of football, and his admiration for the Notre Dame
team, I had a hunch that he would be " up " for the show.... and he
crowd responded very well to Voice, who did the same three tunes that have been
doing since they started with Elvis, and the Sweet Inspirations, who did a very
good set and were at their usual best.
Kahane, who has a tendency to stick with the same material every tour, seemed to
be pacing himself much better this time and was well received in every city. I'll
just take a second to point out that Elvis, and every other entertainer, plays
to the city they are in. What I mean is that they assume, and rightly so, that
the people who are seeing the show are seeing it for the first time ( at least
since Elvis previously played the city.... usually two years or so ). There is a
small group of fans ( myself included ) who DO drive hundreds of miles to see
Elvis on each tour he undertakes. Some of these fans have asked me " Why
doesn't Elvis change his show from city to city? " As I stated, this is a
very small percentage of the audience. Entertainers do not " play " to
this segment of their audience. It would be both undiserable and unprofessional
for Elvis to COMPLETELY change his show whenever he hits a different town,
although he obviously knows enough different songs to do so.
house lights are being turned on and it is intermission time.. Now I am well
aware that the main purpose of a tour is to make money, and that selling
souvenirs has traditionally be a staple of the Presley machine... but things
have become a giant farce. This doesn't bother me as much as it does most of you,
as I have received many, many letters telling me how turned off people have
become of the constant and ever-present hawking of " Elvis momentos. "
It's not the items themselves ( all are good ) but the way that they are sold
that is bothering many people. The worst aspect of all this circus hawking is
that it has caused Elvis a great deal of bad press.... and Elvis has NOTHING to
do with this end of the business.
J.A.T. Publishing © South Bend, IN. October 1st 1974
house lights went back down, the 2001 Theme began, and Elvis rolled on stage to
Ronnie Tutt's pounding introduction. As in all of the cities on the tour, Elvis
came on stage wearing sunglasses, which he took off and handed to someone in the
first row before he started singing. Elvis' jumpsuits have been getting more
spectacular and glittery all the time ( almost too much so ), but on this tour,
I thought he wore the most outstanding outfits he has ever worn. At the Notre
Dame show, he came out in a white jumpsuit with an orange tiger on the front and
back, with it's one paw seemingly reaching out to scratch someone, and orange
and black belt and trim down the legs. It sounds wild, and it was, but there
wasn't the unnecessary distraction that some of his glitter suits cause.
you've seen a certain number of Elvis shows, you can almost tell from the first
number whether Elvis is really up or not. When he is really on, he is obviously
confident, moving his legs, and more or less " attacks " the
microphone. You can also see his band members nodding and smiling towards each
literally tore into C. C. Rider. It was the best I've ever seen him do it. He
was just screaming the words and really involved physically. There are some
people who say it doesn't matter if Elvis is " moving " or not--they
are wrong! Elvis' movements are much more than a part of the " legend. "
When he is truly into a song, ALL aspects of Elvis Presley reflect it: vocal,
visual, mental, and physical. Elvis can possibly fool some of the people some of
the time.... but HE knows when he's on or not....and it shows from the word
came a great rendition of I GOT A WOMAN. Elvis did the ending twice with J. D.
Sumner making like a jet plane and Elvis flapping his " wings. "
J.A.T. Publishing © St.Paul, MN. October 2nd 1974
the song, Elvis said " Hello "
to the crowd and mentioned how much he has always wanted to play for Notre Dame.
He was constantly joking with the crowd, giving little insights to himself, and
referring to magazine articles that had been falsly written about him. He said
that the movie magazines were really goofed up and that they didn't know what
was going on in his personal life. Then he introduced his girlfriend sitting at
the side of the stage, Sheila. This was done very briefly and almost as
an afterthought. He then jokingly said that everyone was wrong about his
lovelife and that he and Kathy Westmoreland had been " carrying on "
for over four years.
next song was LOVE ME. Although Elvis has had this song as a part of his act for
some time, when he thinks about what he sings, it still sounds great... and this
was the case in South Bend.
followed this with a rockin' version of BLUE SUEDE SHOES. After the song, Elvis
noticed a sign that someone was holding up with the wording: " Elvis--The
King. " Elvis said, " I thank you very much for the thought, but I
have never gone for this ' King ' business. For me there is only one who has the
right to be called King, and that's Jesus Christ. This really thrilled me to
hear Elvis say this from the stage. Since I became a Christian, I have been
unable to use this title in association with Elvis. I suppose most of you have
noticed. "The king of entertainment " yes, but " King, " no!
There is nothing wrong in admiring and enjoying Elvis' talent, but it IS wrong
to make him your " God. "
Elvis feels very strongly this way too, and he is thankful for the talent that
God has given him.
then announced that he was going to do his new record. We crossed our fingers
and hoped he meant " Promised Land, " but instead he did IT'S MIDNIGHT.
It was a truly great rendition and Elvis sounded even more powerful than he does
on the record. For the most part, Elvis has ignored promoting his records on his
tours, but it really does help sales and I was glad to see him do it with this
side ( even though " Promised Land " would eventually become the hit
BOSS MAN was next. If you haven't had a chance to hear Elvis' new rockin'
arrangement of this yet, you're really in for a treat. I hope we see this
version on record someday. Fantastic! FEVER was next--nothing new, but always a
great crowd pleaser.
Bob Heis © Dayton, OH. October 6th 1974 matinee
ME TENDER is a song that is very popular with all audiences. Because Elvis has
done it so many times, he sometimes tends to talk through it, but not at this
show. I think this was the best version of this that Elvis has done in many
moons. The same comments apply to the next song, HOUND DOG. Elvis and the band
really kicked it on the ending.
followed with IF YOU LOVE ME LET ME KNOW, the Olivia Newton John number. For me,
this is one of the highlights. Elvis covers the entire range of dynamics on this
one. I don't know who did the arrangement on this one, but it's really
outstanding and shows that, in most cases, Elvis can do songs recorded by other
performers even better than the originals. Taking note of J. D. Sumner going
" way down low " on the ending, Elvis says that he first heard J. D.
when he was sixteen years old in Memphis. J. D. was singing with the Blackwood
Brothers and Elvis was really impressed. He said he never thought he would be on
the same stage with J. D.
Next came an unbelievable version of BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER, with Elvis hitting notes that he never even tried for on this song. This was truly an experience. About one-third of the arena instantly stood up when the song was over. Rather than soaking up the applause, as 99% of performers will, Elvis quickly and gratefully acknowledged them and went on to introduce his band. On this tour, and probably from now on, the fantastic musicians that Elvis carries with him each played a solo as Elvis introduced them. First was James Burton. Elvis kept saying " Get funky, get funky, " and shaking his head, showing his admiration for Burton during his licks. John Wilkinson was introduced next, but not allowed to play a solo.. in fact, Elvis often joked about his lack of ability on the guitar. ( This WAS an obvious joke by Elvis and not to be taken any other way ).
Keith Alverson © Dayton, OH. October 6th 1974 evening
Ronnie Tutt was next announced and gave a short, but utterly fantastic, exhibition on the drums. Tutt always received the most applause, and rightly so. Duke Bardwell (bass) was given a shot next, to which Elvis usually remarked, " Fair " or " Not bad, Duke. " When Charlie Hodge was introduced, he handed out glasses of water to the audience. .,. NO, I'm just kidding! I know Hodge has a fan club. I'M KIDDING! Up to this point, the band is playing " Comin Home Baby, " and the solos are within that rhythm and progression. But when Glen D. Hardin (piano) is introduced, he breaks into a honky tonk shuffle... and then Elvis joins in with LAWDY MISS CLAWDY. It's a good version. Elvis finishes, and then goes onto introduce the rest of his crew Sometimes, but not in every concert, Elvis would bring out Voice or J. D. and The Stamps to do a solo shot, while he would stand at the back of the stage.
this show, Voice came out to do " Killing Me Softly. " Elvis would
introduce it by asking the crowd, " How many of you have heard the song, "
Killing Me Softly? " There would be a ton of applause, thinking that Elvis
was about to sing it. Then he would ask Voice to come out and do it. This was my
one complaint with the Notre Dame show.. not that Voice didn't do a good job,
they were excellent on the song. But it was bad pacing, especially since Voice
had already done their bit before Elvis walked out. It seemed to take a little
of the momentum away from the concert, but Elvis got it back immediately by
doing a savage version of POLK SALAD ANNIE.
came WHY ME, LORD. Since the last Vegas stint, Elvis has tried ( sucessfully )
to break up J. D. on this song. It's become a private joke on stage. . . but
doesn't add anything to the performance of the song.
followed with a surprisingly good version of ALL SHOOK UP, then a medley of
TEDDY BEAR and DON'T BE CRUEL. Now these are songs that Elvis can often be heard
rushing through, but at South Bend, he gave them full throttle. These songs are
rock classics, and that's just the way they sounded on September 30th.
yelled out for " Burning Love " and Elvis responded with " No way,
Jose! " Someone then asked for Elvis to do " You Gave Me A Mountain,
and he said " Of course we'll do it. " We were fortunate enough to be
sitting close enough to be able to hear the band talking, off microphone. Joe
Guercio remarked, as the band members were hunting up the chart, " This is
one of my favorites, I love the way he does this. "
Joe was right! I have never heard Elvis come close to the dynamic power he put
into this song on this particular night. Elvis was reaching notes I haven't
heard in a couple of years. He dramatically " talked " one verse, and
it sounded so sincere that it made you want to cry. Elvis really put the
listener right in the song. I can't even describe how good this was. On the
ending, Elvis bent over, and kept going over the lyrics, like in " I Can't
Stop Loving You, "
then hit a powerhouse high note as he finished it. Elvis has some of the finest
singers in the world on the stage with him, but at the end of this song, they
were just shaking their heads and smiling. Even though they are with him for
every performance, they are still impressed with the man's talent. What really
impresses me is that on those rare occassions, where he cuts EVERYTHING loose,
he has so much in reserve that he doesn't usually tap. I have to just shake my
head with the Stamps and Inspirations and admire THE super talent of our time.
Bob Heis © Indianapolis, IN. October 5th 1974 matinee
YOU GAVE ME A MOUNTAIN got me excited, Elvis' next song, LET ME BE THERE, tore
me in little pieces. Elvis has done this before and, it's always be a great
song--a show stopper--but not like this! He literally screamed the words into
the microphone with so much feeling that it didn't even sound like his normal
delivery of the song. If you took the best of Elvis in the 50s, and the best of
Elvis now, combined them and DOUBLED it, that's kind of how he sounded on this
for this particular performance. Elvis himself seemed to be quite pleased with
his performance on this number, as he seemed to be looking towards the
Inspirations for encouragement. . . and he got it. I know this sounds unusual,
but I am not exaggerating. On the last verse, Elvis got down on all fours and
pounded the stage with his fist as he screamed into the mike. I haven't seen
Elvis put so much of himself into a song since August, 1969... and that's the
truth! His delivery was so doggone raucous, gutsy, and savage that I couldn't
believe it. I don't know why Elvis was up so much for this show... but he sure
then took a drink of water, and changed the setting completely. He had to!
Another " Let Me Be There " and the building ( as new as it was )
would have come down! He performed a very beautiful and sensitive reading of
HAWAIIAN WEDDING SONG. A complete departure from the last tune, but just as
perfect in it's own way. When the song was finished, Elvis looked out into the
crowd and said, " Allright, what do you wanna hear? " 200 different
song titles came back at him. He looked over at Charlie and chuckled. We yelled
out for " Promised Land. "
Somehow he heard us ( I told you we were lucky enough to be sitting close ) and
seemed pleased that we knew that was going to be the other side of his new
single. He explained that he didn't know all the words, but said he would do
another Chuck Berry song instead. He made good his word with JOHNNY B. GOODE. It
was a solid version... not rushed... and Elvis rocked on it.
Originally published in Strictly Elvis # 80