As the weekdays of 2013 fall on the same dates as in 1974, I thought I'd jump the gun and make a little pictorial tribute for these homecoming concerts a year early - before the 40th anniversary.
(Maybe even confirming the date for a couple of photos in the process as I'm trying to use more unusual photos...)
March 16 matinee
After 13 years, Elvis stepped on stage in his hometown before 12300 spectators to an usually enthusiastic response. Problems were caused by the fact that the stage was quite high, so that those in the first row actually had a disadvantage - they could not see as well as those further back. On the other hand, if you were seated too far away, Elvis would have seemed like a white speck...
The concert itself is hardly distinguishable from the ones that preceded and followed. Elvis does acknowledge his hometown by "Hello Memphis" but that's about it. The song lineup seems very routine, but the performance level at this point was quite high, so I suspect the fans were pleased. I know I have always enjoyed the recording from this show.
C.C. Rider / I Got A Woman - Amen / Love Me / Trying To Get To You/ All Shook Up / Steamroller Blues / Teddy Bear - Don't Be Cruel / Love Me Tender / Johnny B. Goode / Hound Dog / Fever / Polk Salad Annie / Why Me, Lord? / Suspicious Minds / Introductions / I Can't Stop Loving You / Help Me / An American Trilogy / Let Me Be There / Funny How Time Slips Away / Can't Help Falling In Love
It seems the Commercial Appeal reviewed the matinee whereas Press-Scimitar was there for the evening show - at least that conclusion can be made from the photos accompanying the respective reviews.
Commerical Appeal wrote:The most emotional moment of the performance came during American Trilogy, a medley of songs including Dixie and the Battle Hymn of the Republic. When Elvis, his 12-piece orchestra, 5-piece rock band, 2 trios and a quartet started with Dixie, there was little doubt about the regional flavor of the audience who had seen him rise from humble beginnings in Tupelo, Miss. and Memphis to become one of the world's most famous entertainers. At the closing part of the selection, a flute played the haunting strains of Dixie and brass instruments played the Battle Hymn of the Republic. Spotlights danced over a room-size American flag suspended over the stage. As Elvis' unmistakable voice closed the number, the audience came to its feet for extended applause and cheers.
The flag in the spotlights from this show is depicted in Tunzi's Sessions 3 book.
March 16 evening
It was back to business the same evening with a carbon copy performance of the matinee show - as far as the song listing is concerned at least. This show was released quite recently on CD on the Touchdown label. I have not heard this show, but I presume it was of the similar standard as the earlier show.
Now a question: is that photo from the 16th (if not it's from the 20th)? I've dated this for 16th because if the band was in white that would be seen here. Also there's that unruly lock of hair on his right temple which I can't see in photos from the 20th. But I might be wrong.
As said the song lineup was exactly the same as in the first show. The Press-Scimitar's review is clearly written by a non-fan, as it has Elvis doing some weird titles, such as "Dirty Tricks"...
Press-Scimitar wrote:Blaring of trumpets, rolling of drums, beating of kettles, flashing of lights, and the ruler of rock arrives. Momentum propels to such heights that first glimpse of Presley sends the audience into a frenzy. Like a streak of white lightning, Presley darts on stage. He is dramatically clad in all white which sparkles with jewels and nailheads with a jacket slit to the waist and a diamond cross hanging from his neck. He nods approval to the overwhelming hometown reception, and he begins to sing. It's "Si, Si" something or other. Little matter. The crowd goes wild. They scream, yell, cry, clap and do their best to drown out what they came to hear. The King is amused, but he goes on. Cameras flash everywhere.
There is even some video footage from these two shows on the Return to Splendour video, although the narration dates these incorrectly:
March 17 matinee
The homecoming continues the next day, but nothing much changes in the show, except the outfits. The only change in the song lineup is the addition of Heartbreak Hotel in between of Hound Dog and Fever. This show was released 20 years ago on the Stage Entertainment label as "The Alternative Memphis" - the cover shown below uses one of the cd-r titles. It's in listenable sound quality, and performance wise quite enjoyable.
March 17 evening
And to cap off a Sunday evening, Elvis is back in front of a hometown crowd. This is the show from which we have the least photos. The most familiar ones are by Sean Shaver taken from stage left behind the backup singers. The photo I'm using is a bit iffy as far as its date. I got this in a bunch of photos from Memphis...and I really can't fit this anywhere else. But a confirmation would be nice...
This show has only been out as cd-r copy, and I've yet to hear it. For this show Heartbreak Hotel is out, and it's almost as if by afterthought that That's All Right is added as the penultimate song this evening. Wouldn't it have been nice if he had opened his Memphis shows with this number instead of CC Rider?
The show we all know and love was captured on tape the following Wednesday. There's not much I can say about this that hasn't been said already. As horrible as the original mix was, it conveyed clearly that Elvis was in fine voice on this tour. For this evening there were several changes in the lineup: Johnny B. Goode and Hound Dog were replaced by the rock-medley, How Great Thou Art was added, there was the fun Blueberry Hill bit, instead of That's All Right he did My Baby Left Me and also Lawdy Miss Clawdy was added.
The photo I'm using may not be very unusual, but I consider this to be one of the iconic Elvis shots that perhaps should have been on the cover...oh wait, it was!
Again, if anyone feels like they could add anything, especially unseen photos from the March 17th evening show, please do so!