This is one of those...Good ones! From Elvis' very first breath of 'See See Rider' it's evident he is bursting with energy and enthusiasm, playing incessantly with phrasing and just having a blast. This upbeat, playful mood continues throughout the show. What a relief after hearing countless, uninspired "going through the motions" concerts where the listener can predict virtually every cue, every accent, every "ad lib". "I'm crazy, you know that - don't you?" , he jokes to the audience during the 'Amen' bump - and- grind bit. So we've heard, Elvis - but this time his "craziness" is tasteful, clever and amusing - a welcomed relief from the embarrassing, caustic and inexcusable nonsense displayed all too often in so many other shows.
He plays with some songs here in a way I've never heard before or since. Listen to the vocal acrobatics he pulls at the end of 'Love Me' - a song usually "performed" on "automatic pilot". At this show - and in the others during this five date mini-tour - Elvis seems inspired to be creative and attempts to wring everything he can from almost every line.
'Fairytale' bounces along with Elvis throwing him into every line as he did on the studio version. He restarts 'You Gave Me A Mountain' after a false start (spoiled by feedback) and it's sounding great - unfortunately the recording fades early and is incomplete. Next is 'O Sole Mio'/'It's Now Or Never'. Elvis can't get enough of this one. He goes nuts on it. He plays the Sherrill Nielsen "shtick" to the hilt and has him reprise the 'O Sole Mio' bit-much to his (verbal) amusement. Then it's onto 'Tryin' To Get To You' and a quick, energetic 'Blue Suede Shoes'.
The atmosphere on stage was so inspired he intuitively decides to steer away from the patent "scarf-number" routine - "No Teddy Bear - forget that" , he says. Great idea, Elvis! He starts 'My Way' instead. When he comes to the line "I've lived a life that's full" he adds , "almost". This version is done with a lighter, less maudlin tone and the result is very unique. Next is 'Polk Salad Annie', always a great number for Elvis to "rock out" on. It sounds like he was going nuts with his stage movements because he doesn't sing it straight - he's too involved pulling out all the stops.
Next are the long band intros which he started to "pad out" earlier that year, presumably to give himself a chance to "take a breather". Usually he just mumbles through these truncated "songs" but tonight, he's even into these. During Tutts' wild jungle- drum solo, Elvis plays around with the line "Hey Bo Diddley", and accompanies the others with improvised vocal scatting. He is ON!!
He has fun with 'Love Letters' - a fine version - and then runs through 'School Days' into 'Hurt'. The tempo of 'Hurt' is a bit rushed, and suffers as a result, but he pulls some more vocal acrobatics at the end and reprises the climax. He takes a seat at the piano for 'Unchained Melody' - but it doesn't work like it should. He's too uptight and out of breath, but still finds some fresh ways to phrase some of the lines. A fair performance - but it was new to the show and Elvis wasn't quite comfortable with it yet.
This is a truly great show, you can tell right away he's in a great mood. This is simply a must have for any Fan that truly loves hearing Elvis sing his can off!