This was the last time Elvis would be in Cleveland, Ohio - but he'd leave on a positive note. While not being in the best of health at this time, he put on a great show, lasting almost an hour and a half.
For this show, Elvis wore the King of Spades suit and had the "Moe Howard" haircut. Almost every picture I've seen of this concert show a man, slightly overweight with puffy eyes. The last time Elvis visited the Coliseum (July 10 & 18, 1975), he looked killer in the Black Phoenix and Gypsy suits repectively; in the Spades suit this night, he looked tired and "not quite there". Yet, the man put on a fantastic show - in my opinion, one of the best from the '76 tour.
Let me begin by saying this is an audience recording - so you're not going to get anywhere near soundboard quality. Although, as far as audience recordings go, this one isn't too bad. You can hear Elvis's voice just fine as well as his comments to the audience between songs. As I said - it's not the best audience recording, but I've heard (and enjoyed) worse!
The show starts off with the typical 2001 Theme, breaking into an extended "C.C. Rider" as Elvis made his way around the stage of the 21,000 seat arena. "Oh See! See-See Rider!" He launches into this song in fine voice and lots of energy. The band is dead-on with every beat: James Burton's playing is top notch as usual! "It's funny when you're an old man and they still want you to turn around" he jokes before the typical "well's" preceding "I've Got a Woman". He hits every note (high and low) throughout the tune, then dives right into "Amen". He winds up going through 5 repeats of the song before launching his strutting routine to Ronnie Tutt's drumbeats, and ending with the J.D Sumner's B-52 fly-over.
He then welcomes the audience with "Good evening ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to yell ya it's a pleasure to be here..." He follows up with "What is this...the Astrodome? Ahhh...so anyway, did you know I had to borrow a ring tonight? I've lost all my rings..." He then goes into "Love Me," much to the the appreciation of the audience. "Thank you - you sound like a fantasic audience..." "This next song is from an album we did, it's called 'Fairytale'" Again, Elvis is in good voice, getting into the song, hitting each and every note perfectly until he forgets a verse. The song ends prematurely as The Sweet Inspirations are cut off in mid-chorus. "Sorry about that, we haven't done that for quite awhile and I forgot the words tonight." Someone throws up a banner on stage and Elvis reads, "What's this say? E-L-V... oh yeah... I ain't been in Hollywood that long, son." Next is "You Gave Me a Mountian". As everyone knows, this was a staple in the shows - he does a good version before launching into a quick version of "Jailhouse Rock". "I'd like to do a medley of my records.. I'll be alright - just hang on a second..." continuing with the standard "All Shook Up/Teddy Bear/Don't Be Cruel" quick hits. "And I Love Her So" is how he introduces the Don McLean song - singing one of the better versions he'd done. Right after that comes "Little Darlin'". The background singers start with the falsetto intro and are immediately cut of by Elvis. "Fever". Not sure why he cut the previous song short, but from the sound of his voice, something must have keyed him off. The audience doesn't seem to mind and he does a straight forward version, apparently with a lot of shaking.
"I'd like to do our version of 'America the Beautiful'". Man, is he in good voice tonight! Loaded with emotion. "Polk Salad Annie" follws right on the heels of the previous song. Jerry Scheff manages a wacky slide bass solo before Elvis goes into his ending routine for this song, trumpets blaring, apparently going at full force! Band introductions come next... "You want this? It's chocolate candy!" He introduces the Sweet Inspirations, the Stamps individually, Kathy Westmoreland then John Wilkerson who, in turn, launches into a very short version of "Early Morning Rain". Next is James Burton who never fails to astound with another short version of "What I Say?". "I'm going to ask James to play the guitair on the back of his head - he does this very well" is how Elivs introduces 'Johhny B. Goode'". Ronnie Tutt's next with his drum solo, followed by Jerry Scheff's bluesy slide bass solo. Tony Brown's is next ( I always liked his solo contribution - nice quick fingers over those keys!). David Griggs does a loud funk flavored solo on the electric piano. "The first album David and I worked on together was his first recording session and the song's called, ah, "Love Letters". It's probably the best version of the song I've heard. There's a slight drop out on the CD as Elvis introduces Charlie Hodge, followed by his introduction of the orchestra and "Hail, Hail Rock & Roll".
"Our latest record is called 'Hurt,' ladies and gentlemen." Again, this was song he did a lot of the '76 tour - but he strikes gold again with a spectacular version of the song. "You want to hear that again?" He follows up with a reprise of the ending to thunderous applause.
"You ain't! We ain't! Y'all ain't!... Depending on what part of the crowd you are..." goes into another rushed version of "Hound Dog". Next is Sherrill Nielsen, "Son, you're on your own". He does "Danny Boy" and "Walk With Me". "Heartbreak Hotel" is next. Interesting that this was one of the "old standards" that Elvis remained faithful to and didn't rush through. "How Great Thou Art" is outstanding. Elvis never seemed to skimp on this song and again, he does one of the most heartfelt versions I recall hearing. "I'd like to, ah, turn up the houselights for a second so I can see you. (big applause) Good grief, this is a big place! (more applause)... I have to confess something to you, ah. We're going a little longer tonight because, ah, we were a little late getting here so we're, ah, going to make up for it."
What follows is an amazing version of "Mystery Train/Tiger Man". Elvis sounds as if he's in his prime, singing his heart out and having fun.
"Where are we going to be...Where are we going to be tomorrow night? I don't know, I just work here... Any time you want us back here just let us know and we'll come back..." leading into "I Can't Help Falling in Love With You." A great end to a fantastic concert.
The Richfield Coliseum was torn down in 1998. Along with it went the memory of many great performances like this one. It was a great venue that Elvis played three times (twice in '75 and this time in '76). Each time Elvis played there, it was to capacity crowds of around 20,000 - 21,000 each night. It was a wonderful venue to see a concert and the King put on some spectacular shows here.
In the event this soundboard is ever released, it will be a "must-have" for a solid 1976 concert with Elvis in perfect voice.
Reviewed by Jim Choma