Toronto,Canada  April 2nd 1957

By The Toronto Star

 

23 000 See Elvis. Late Show 15 000. His Largest Ever.

 

Crowds estimated at 8,000 and 15,000 persons jammed Maple Leaf Gardens last night as Elvis Presley gave his first and second Canadian shows. Col. Tom Parker, Presley's manager, said the second-show crowd was the largest Presley has ever faced in a personal appearance. I think Toronto audiences are terrific,' Col. Parker said. 

But if the Toronto audience was the largest Elvis has ever faced, to all reports it was also one of the quietest and best-behaved audiences ever to watch Elvis in action. Members of the troupe said the whooping and hollering and shenanigans just didn't compare to what they had seen in other cities. However, they gave part of the credit for this to the 90 special constables on duty and to the alert Gardens' staff. Whenever a youngster bounced up in his seat a policeman would reach over and plunk him down again. This sometimes gave the Gardens the appearance of a large jack-in-the-box, but it seemed to have the desired effect. Two women fans were ejected late in the second performance when they tried to break through 20 policemen and as many Maple Leaf Gardens' attendants to reach the stage. Frankie Trent, who leads off th Presley show with a tapdance routine said he had heard a lot more heck ling than was usual in most towns.'But the kids didn't screech and run around as much as they did in other places,' he said. 

Same Everywhere 

Elvis himself didn't notice anything different about Toronto teenagers. "Teenagers are the same everywhere," was his only comment, but although Toronto teenager may have been quieter and better behaved than teenagers elsewhere, they managed to disappoint anyone who came to hear Elvis sing. 

From the time Elvis, dressed in his all-gold suit, walked on stage and smiled until he gave his last bump nearly an hour later, nearly every teenager in the place screeched, at the top of his lungs. Despite a good public address system Elvis managed to get across only the occasional note that the audience could hear. However, this didn't seem to matter to most of these present.Every time Elvis reached out his arm in one direction or turned to smile in another, all the crowd in that section would screech with ecstasy. One girl got out of her seat and ran down the aisle. Col. Parker and a few policemen pulled her away as she tried to clamber onstage and touch Elvis. 

Sean Shaver. Toronto, Canada April 2nd 1957 evening show

Busy With Cameras 

About one-third of those present had flash cameras and each time Elvis made a slight turn that side of the auditorium would light up as hundreds of flashbulbs went off. The show's manager told the crowd they could take as many pictures as they liked and no one needed a further invitation. When Presley made his first appearance on stage the lights were dimmed. But so many flash-cameras went off at once that one could see clearly even in the grays. 

Throughout the show flash after flash went off. About the only thing comparable to this seen in the Gardens is the matchlight demonstration at a rodeo when everyone present is asked to light a match in memory of cowboys who have gone to the last round-up. 

Noise Was Deafening 

Clean-up men trundled away several boxes full of flashbulbs between the first and second shows.The noise, too, was deafening from start to finish. During the first show when Josh King, local disc jockey, first announced Elvis was coming, the audience hollered for about 30 straight seconds. At this point, an attendant rushed up on stage and quieted the crowd. 'Elvis isn't coming yet,' he said. 'Elvis doesn't think you're making enough noise.' 

Somewhat surprised, the crowd seemed determined to prove that their lungs were capable of even louder noises. They thereupon screeched for a full two minutes.Apparently the word got around between shows for the second show audience needed no second invitation. They screamed for the full hour that Elvis was on stage. Although television cameras cut Elvis off at the waist when he appeared on the Ed Sullivan show Presley himself appears to have no qualms about making gyrations when he's doing a live show.

Sean Shaver. Toronto, Canada April 2nd 1957 evening show

Cuddles Mike 

He cuddles the mike as he sings, tilting it at weird angles and dragging it along behind him, and he wanders back and forth across the stage. At the start of the first performance last night he grabbed the mike with such eagerness it came off in his hand. 

He picks up his guitar and twangs at it once or twice and then discards it again. After two or three numbers, when he warms up, he takes it and throws it away. There was a delay for several minutes last night when it was announced that Elvis had broken a guitar string. Since he never actually plays the instrument there appeared to be little reason for delay. 

The much publicized pelvis was plainly in action, too.Elvis rocks his hips back and forth. He shakes his knees and wobbles his legs and bumps like a fan dancer. He throws out one arm and then the other; and sometimes he even gets down on his knees and leans forward at the audience. At times he even balances on both toes with his knees forward, hips wiggling and chest thrown out. The position appears physically impossible to hold; but Elvis manages to stay that way for IS or 20 seconds. 

Each time he reached an arm out in any direction, all the teenagers in that section of the crowd would jump up and throw their arms out, screaming at him. 'He's fantabulous,' said one teenager. Twenty-three thousand others apparently agree. 

Presley's own part of the show, which lasted nearly an hour, included nearly every hit recording he has ever done. He started with 'Heartbreak Hotel,' rolled into 'Long, Tall Sally,' 'Don't Be Cruel' (his favorite) and kept on with tunes like 'Love Me' and his latest release, 'That's When Your Heartaches Begin.' He even stole a book from rival Fats Domino by singing the popular rhythm and blues number, 'Blueberry Hill.' Others included 'Too Much' and 'Butterfly.' 

The Toronto Star. Toronto, Canada April 2nd 1957 matinee show

Tenor is Booed 

Although the crowd didn't seem to appreciate most of the acts that took up the first part of the Presley show, even booing Irish tenor Frankie Connors, Elvis is actually backed by a good rock-and-roll type show. The Jordanaires, who back Presley in his 'Peace In The Valley' record and also backed Sonny James' popular 'Young Love,' received second top billing.The quartet, the only other number to get a really good audience reaction, consists of Hugh Jarret, Gordon Stoker, Neil Matthews and Hoyt Hawkins. They sang hit tunes, 'Party Doll,' 'Young Love,' and their record not yet released in Canada, 'Walk Away.' They also provide musical background for Elvis' gyrations on stage. 

Other numbers on the show include Frankie Trent, who tap dances rock-and-roll; Pat Kelly, an attractive blonde who hustles on and off stopping long enough to sing 'I Dreamed;' Jimmy James, who plays the banjo; and comic Rex Marlowe. 

Marlowe, who does an imitation of a lady doffing a girdle ('That's how they invented rock-and-roll') also appeared to draw few laughs from the crowd.A noticeable absence from the evening's performance was Presley's popular 'Blue Suede Shoes.' 'I have five pair of blue suede shoes at home but I never wear them,' said Elvis. 'That kind of thing gets worn out after a while,' he admitted.

 

Originally published in The Toronto Star on April 3rd 1957.