Detroit,MI April 6th, 1972
By Rocky Barra
saw that Elvis had, once again, included Detroit on the latest tour schedule, I
was elated. The requests began coming in for tickets, but they were handled
differently this time... almost entirely sold by mail order with no security of
receiving a good seat. But at an Elvis concert, ANY seat is a good seat. We were
fortunate enough to be stage center, only a few rows back.
has been appearing in enough cities, and you have read about it over and over in
S. E., so that I don't have to tell you how the tension and excitement builds up
until the day of the concert. The fans began to pour in; Steve Toli from Boston,
Nancy Burns from Cleveland, Sean Shaver from Kansas City, Gary Frank, Al Bigelow,
Larry Longo, etc. Several of us were watching home movies of Elvis, comparing
records, exchanging candids at my house before it was time to leave for the
concert. ( My right-hand man Taylor Scott and Sean Shaver were deadlocked in an
Elvis trade so invloved that we had to keep scorecards on them ).
Stadium was jam-packed with fans, and those about to become fans when the
announcer said, " The show will have to be delayed a few minutes due to the
tremendous traffic jam in front of the arena. "
And it was true. People couldn't get through the doors because of the
overflow of traffic. Finally ( about ten minutes later than scheduled ) the
lights went down. Screams came from the crowd, but everyone knew it would be
almost an hour before Elvis would make his appearance on the stage.
Sweet Inspirations opened the show. Their act was not up to the fine
presentation I had seen them do many times in the past. They are so talented
that it is impossible for them to do a bad show, or even anything close to it,
but their selection of songs wasn't as good as on previous tours. They did a
medley of songs that just did not fit together. Showmanship is one of the
Inspirations' fortes, but the restless Detroit crowd wasn't buying it tonight.
The applause was polite, nothing more.
Kahane was the comic once again. He bombed, to put it lightly. His material was
fine enough, his delivery very professional, and the jokes were funny... if
anyone listened. But the crowd had come for only one thing. . to pay hommage to
Elvis. Halfway through Kahane's act, the rhythmic clapping started, then chants
of " We want Elvis, we want Elvis... "
Poor Kahane had to stop in the middle of one of his routines, raised his hand
and said thanks, and making his way off stage, could only shake his head. ( Ed.
note: Detroit is Jackie Kahane's home town ).
Sean Shaver © Detroit, MI. April 6, 1972
the intermission, the house lights went down and a supercharged atmosphere
filled the Olympia. The 2001 Theme faded into the machine gun drumming of Ronnie
Tutt and the group went into " See See Rider. " Out he came dressed in
a white jumpsuit with a massive bright orange belt and matching scarf. Elvis'
hair was slightly longer ( and combed differently ) than when I had seen him in
Vegas this past summer. The ovation was tremendous, and Elvis just kept smiling
and shaking his head. Between Sean Shaver and myself, we had seen Elvis perform
in concert in no fewer than twenty-five cities... Detroit's welcome ( both now
and in 1970 ) was by far the loudest, wildest, and most enthusiastic of all the
concert dates. This probably had something to do with Elvis' return engagement
See See Rider " was far superior to the record version on the " On
Stage " LP. Burton's guitar lead was superb. Elvis was back, and Detroit
responded with a decible output that could be heard all the way to Toledo ( and
with several teddy bears thrown on stage ). Elvis was all smiles and it was
obvious, throughout the concert, that he was enjoying himself.
Proud Mary " was next. A fantastic version with the modulating chorus at
the end. The beat got stronger and stronger as J. D. Sumner echoed Elvis' "
Rollin' Rollin' Rollin' on the river. "
At the end of the song, in response to the unbelievable ovation he was receiving,
Elvis shook his head and said, " Detroit is Crazy. " He repeated this
statement several times that evening.
never heard Elvis perform " I Never Been To Spain" before... and what
a treat it turned out to be. Outstanding bass and guitar work laid out the
foundation for Elvis' soulful gutteral tones. He really rocked on this one.
Several of the younger fans I talked to said it was the highlight of the concert
is a massive structure built in a large oval. There were probably 3,000 seats
behind Elvis that had to be content with seeing him perform from the back. But
whenever he turned around, they really responded verbally. In fact, it became
obvious that some of his most enthusiastic fans were sitting behind him.
Whenever Elvis turned around to face them, or even jerked his head in their
direction, they cheered so loudly that the roof almost rose from its foundations.
Elvis seemed to get a kick out of this, and several times during the concert,
gave them a quick double-take, as if a cat was playing with a bird he knew he
had trapped. I must admit that Elvis was very fair to them and turned and faced
them as much as possible. He knew they had come to see him perform and did his
very best to please everyone in the arena.
Sean Shaver © Detroit, MI. April 6, 1972
song was another that I was anxious to hear Elvis perform... "You Gave Me A
Mountain. I always loved Frankie Laine's version of this, and had thought it
would be a great song for Elvis to do; he didn't let me down. He changed the
tempo of the song to suit him. It was performed at the same speed he did "
The Wonder of You. " His vocal presence and power was clearly demonstrated
on this. Elvis' movements on the instrumental accents were great and added to
the excitement of the song. I can't wait until this is released on the "
Standing Room Only " LP that is coming up. A perfect song for Elvis and a
Until It's Time For You To Go " was a bigger hit in Detroit than it was in
most parts of the country. When the band hit the introduction, the applause
meter went way up. I personally don't consider this among Elvis' finer concert
songs, although his stage arrangement had the single version all beat. The vocal
backing was especially superior to the record.
Polk Salad Annie " was next. This song, however popular with the fans, is
becoming a programmed thing with Elvis... much the same as " Hound
Dog " is. He does it because he knows the crowd expects it of him. I
believe Elvis is kind of tired of doing this song. This time around wasn't
nearly as good as the last tour, which wasn't as good as he did it the time
before in Vegas, etc. Still a good rock kicker and his movements excited the
crowd ( although he shortened the song considerably by leaving the recitation
off at the beginning ). The bass solo by Jerry Scheff,can only be termed a
" freak out. "
Love Me " was next, followed by " All Shook Up. "
The way Elvis presents his old rock songs depends a lot on the mood he's in on a
given night. Well, all I can say is that on April 6, Elvis was in a rocking mood.
It was easily the best " Love Me " I've heard him do... with high
notes that his imitators wouldn't dare attempt. "All Shook Up " was
dynamite and he certainly couldn't be accused of simply " running through
his old numbers to please the crowd " in Detroit. He felt " All Shook
Up " and gave a great reading of it.
of " Teddy Bear " and " Don't Be Cruel " came next. Elvis
stayed in the mold he cast in the 1950's for these songs too. He was slurring
the words and used all the style that made these songs rock classics in 1956 and
1957. 1 have seen Elvis perform many times, and he doesn't always give the old
rock songs his full attention... but on this given night, Elvis was again the
" King of Rock. "
After " Cruel " was finished, he turned to the band and called out
" Let's do 'Little Sister. " Elvis pretty much has his show set before
he comes out on stage. And the addition of this song, while he was out there,
showed the mood he was in. It was a great version with the Beatles' " Get
Back " tacked on the end. Powerhouse rock and roll.
next did " Hound Dog " in a different tempo... not the Mama Thornton
tempo he performed it in before, but in a swing tempo... it was gritty. After
two or three verses, he looked back the band and said " Change Dogs. "
Then came the first two verses in the normal tempo. At the finish, he yelled,
" You ain't never caught a rabbit ".... walked around the stage ( as
if in a parade ) waited a full ten seconds or so, and finished, "And you
ain't no friend of mine. "
came " Bridge Over Troubled Water. " I can add nothing to say about
this song that already hasn't been said. It was made for Elvis to sing, and he
gives it his all.
Can't Stop Loving You " was really rocking. Elvis swayed right to left
across the stage with the mood and tempo of the song. You could tell this song
had been planned for the tour by the new horn arrangement. ( Once again, Elvis
used a small horn section... even smaller than on the 1971 fall tour ). Elvis
was strong on this and did the extended ending... " In dreams of yester- -yester
end of the song, Elvis went over to someone at the end of the stage and took his
hat and put it on. It was a old-fashioned thing and Elvis did kind of a visual
James Cagney thing. Then he pointed at Burton and " Suspicious Minds "
was struck. It was an exceptional version. The slow section in the middle was
taken agonizingly slow with Elvis down on his knees pleading with the crowd.
This was certainly a power-packed version although the " karate bit "
at the end was noticably shortened. At one point, when the song was taken down
to the soft verse, Elvis sang " I hope the suit don't tear, baby. "
The crowd was quite receptive on this song.
then introduced the group. "Johnny B. Goode "
was next. This wasn't as good as I had heard him do it this past summer. It was
taken at too fast a tempo, losing some of the feeling and drive. Burton's guitar,
as usual, was an inspiration to Chuck Berry, or anybody that does this
came a surprise. Elvis went over to the stand by Charlie Hodge, and picked up a
sheet of paper with lyrics on it. He performed a beautiful version of "
ForThe Good Times, " a song that was a big hit for Ray Price this past year.
Elvis was outstanding on this one. Steve Toli made a tape of the show, and when
this song came on, the start of the song is blotted out by Steve's oooh, oooh!
Elvis sang the bridge, " A-lay-a-your -head upon my pillow... " He
made the song fit his style. I hope we get to hear this on record by Elvis in
Photographer unknown © Detroit, MI. April 6, 1972
American Trilogy " was next on the program. People who saw Elvis do this in
Vegas told me how great it was... but they couldn't describe Elvis' rendition of
this any better than I can. You have to hear it. The record is great, but in
person it takes on a new dimension as Elvis' performance of the song is really a
sight to behold. He sings the chorus " Glory, glory hallelujah " kind
of bluesy, with movements to go with the band accents. "All My Trials
" was very touching. When the flute solo came, Elvis kind of bowed his
head. Then the build up, with the trumpet section standing. All I can say is
that if Elvis had sung this song at the time of the Civil War, the South would
have won. So kind of inspiration. During the part of the song where Elvis was
bowing his head, some fan threw a shoe on stage. It landed right at Elvis' feet.
He didn't flinch or move a muscle... but at the end of the song, he picked it up
and heaved it way back to the end of the auditorium. The crowd was simply going
bananas. A banner reading " We love you, Elvis " had fallen down onto
the stage. Elvis picked it up and wrapped it around his head. But I noticed that
all the banners, teddy bears, etc. that were given to Elvis or thrown on stage
Elvis sang " Funny How Time Slips Away. "
When he sang, " Gotta go now, " the crowd begged him " Noooooo,
" in unison. He chuckled to himself and said ( loud enough to be picked up
by the mike ) " Man, Detroit is crazy. "
most concerts where the crowd is responsive at the beginning, and then stowly
dies down... the applause and screams were just as loud, if not louder, at the
end of the show as when Elvis first walked on stage.
I know I
make a lot of references to it, but Burton's guitar was amazing on " Funny
How Time Slips Away. " He was playing some blues runs that sounded like a
funky Les Paul. Elvis hit some high falsetto notes in the song, and ended it
with low bass notes, reaching way down. Elvis' version on the " Elvis
Country " LP is only a piece of plastic when compared to his " stage
Help Falling In Love " was greated with a tremendous ovation. When Elvis
sang, " Shall I stay... " the crowd begged him, more, more. Detroit
loved Elvis and Elvis loved working again in Detroit. Charlie put his cape back
on him and he posed for photos at all sides of the stage before leaving. I was
sitting on an aisle seat and throughout the concert, people were CONSTANTLY
rushing towards the stage. The police force ( which I estimate to be about three
times the size of his last Detroit appaarance ) had their hands full the whole
it is quite common for Elvis to receive a standing ovation for an exceptional
performance on a song or a show. But I have never seen an entire arena of 17,000
or 18,000 people give a standing ovation as they did at the conclusion of
"An American Trilogy " and again when Elvis left the stage. To say
that Elvis went over well in Detroit would be as much of an understatement as
saying that the sun is hot or water is wet. Elvis
Sean Shaver © Detroit, MI. April 6, 1972
think back to how Elvis " moved " in Vegas during his August, 1969
stint... it is easy to see he is taming his movements down little by little each
tour or Vegas appearance. But, in all honesty, I cannot say that his performance
is suffering because of it. His voice gets better and better and better and
BETTER! I've said this before, but " I don't really think Elvis has reached
his peak vocally! " He continues to amaze me just as much as when I first
heard him in 1956. Some Elvis fans collect photos, some are movie freaks (
seeing some films as much as 100 times ), some are attracted to him because of
his looks ( female-type ), some because of the way he has continued to follow
his life-style and not be changed by those around him... But for me, the main
attraction about Elvis has always, and will always be his singing, and his
unique style of entertaining. And the remarkable thing is that he keeps
Originally published in Strictly Elvis No. 50
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