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Home > Concerts Reviewed > 1975 > ASHEVILLE'S STANDING OVATIONS July 24, 1975
Concerts Reviewed - 1975
ASHEVILLE'S STANDING OVATIONS July 24, 1975
Of particular interest to me is the July 1975 tour. I first discovered this tour in 1982 with photographs of Elvis in his Gyspy suit from Greensboro, July 21, 1975. The most widely known shots of this tour show Elvis in both his Aztec & Gypsy suits taken at the afternoon and evening shows in Uniondale on the 19th which appeared in the John Reggero book ELVIS IN CONCERT.
This tour is also known for Elvis' on stage comments about catfish and the "attention" Kathy Westmoreland supposedly received from the TCB band. However, the tour closed in Asheville with three consecutive shows which by all accounts were fresh, energetic, and very entertaining. It has been reported that the Asheville audiences were "polite" and Elvis did not receive any standing ovations. I wonder if these reporters have actually listened to the shows at all, because in my estimation, Elvis played to very enthusiastic audiences, and often he did not give the audience a chance to applaud with standing ovations similarly as he did at Madison Square Garden in 1972. With these thoughts I'd like to review the closing show of this tour from July 24, 1975.
Elvis wore the Aztec suit (ie, the one with the teeth around the neck, the one James Burrell called the Bear Claw suit). In attendance was 7437 screaming fans. As usual, 2001 signalled the start of the Elvis Presley show, and the familiar opening riff leads into an energetic version of THAT'S ALL RIGHT, which delights the crowd as much as his entrance to the stage as heard by their screams. Unfortunately the sound quality of the first twenty minutes of this seventy five minute concert suffer from a severe dullness which makes some of the dialogue inaudible. Elvis quickly launches into a fast tempo version of I Got a Woman/Amen. Big Boss Man follows in a similar fashion to that heard in Vegas on September 2, 1974 at the closing show. Afterwards, Elvis makes some comments about his ring which makes the crowd scream. LOVE ME is a fairly standard version bar some falsetto comments "It's mine,it's mine", and it is apparent Elvis is playing with the audience. As the Stamps hold the ending "Oh Yeah" for about 15 seconds, Elvis says something to the effect of his diamond ring and one of the Stamps head. I can't make out what is said. IF YOU LOVE ME is filled with girls screaming, and Elvis performs a fairly interesting and committed performance. Jerry Scheff's playing is quite mesmerizing in some parts of this song. Elvis announces "All Shook Up" and performs a standard version which runs at the same speed as the June 1975 versions, and is quite enjoyable. The last "Uh-ha"'s are sung with a bass voice by Elvis. TEDDY BEAR kicks off with a slow introduction, but Elvis' enthusiasm is accentuated with his punctuation of the lyrics in the same manner as heard at the January 26, 1970 opening show (listen to the Fort Baxter CD Walk a Mile in My Shoes). The medley concludes with DON'T BE CRUEL which is introduced by a great drum roll by Ronnie Tutt. Before the applause can climax, Elvis starts HOUND DOG. Ronnie's drumming is best described as "rapid". The band try to end the song on two occasions on the third and fifth verses but Elvis keeps it going, ending it with the usual crescendo. Finally Elvis says hello to his audience and tells a screaming girl to shut up. He notes the crowd's good mood and says that he is going to do a lot of different songs.He also mentions the use of the request box that was filled by the fans before the concert. The first request he reads is MEMORIES, but the second which Elvis reads outload, "Please do American Trilogy for Nancy" is performed. What starts as a strong version is irritatingly spoiled by Elvis with changes of lyrics, and some smart arse comments. However, his impulsiveness is quickly rectified immediately with his strong and imaginative vocals after each comment. During ALL MY TRIALS the crowd applauds and Elvis says "You people applaud and he just died! But alllll my tri - tri- his trials, somebody's trials will sooon be overrrr". Then in the instrumental that used to have the flute but was changed to a trumpet, Elvis can be heard playing with a girl and says "we'll get together after the song". Similar to Aloha, as the orchestra builds, Elvis screams out, and to my ears he says "God dammit" then a few seconds later he says "Listen to the trumpet player". Trilogy's ending is extremely similar to it's ending from the September 2, 1974 closing show in Vegas.
The next request as announced by Elvis is HEARTBREAK HOTEL. An enthusiastic version with Elvis telling "JB" to "play it". It is amazing to me that after so many performances of a song, Elvis could simply pronounce the lyrics a little differently which would add a freshness and newness to an otherwise done to death number. I suppose this is what he meant when he spoke to Pierre Addidge in March 1972 about "keeping it alive". The ending is reprised for good measure. "The Jailhouse Rock" is up next, and however unrehearsed, it kicks. I've always loved the '70s versions, and this one is the blue print for all the 1977 versions. A little slower, but the band is rocking like it's 1969! And boy, Elvis knows the lyrics - at least for the first verse. There is no introduction, and there is no support from the Stamps or the Inspriations until the second verse when Elvis loses himself. He tells the band to "break" as he closes the song, and then when the band thinks he's finished, he adds his bluesy "They were dancin' to the Jaaaaail House Rock". The following request is SOMETHING and what a fine version it is. There is only incident that renders this version just less than perfect and this is heard in the chorus when Elvis yells out to turn up his microphone. Kathy Westmoreland's singing sounds to be higher than the Aloha version.
Elvis asks the crowd, "What's that? Return To Sender? Oh Lord have mercy." After playing with the opening lyrics he claims he has to find the right key, then begins "I wrote a letter to my mailbox". The band picks up immediately, and Elvis again sings enthusiastically with a screaming crowd. Like his August 1, 1976 Hampton Roads version, he uses the word "phone" instead of "zone". Also during his adlibbed lyrics of "Return to Sender, at no address" Elvis says jokingly, and in tempo "aint there something wrong" which clearly cracks the band up.
At the conclusion of RETURN TO SENDER Elvis mentions that it has "been a few years", but the screaming women in the audience don't seem to care. The next request is WOODEN HEART which is performed rather well with German lyrics. If he could perform it here so readily, it kind of makes the few lines sung at Pontic on December 31, 1975 all the more worse, and that much more of a tease to those fans present in the Silverdome. Hawaiian Wedding Song is offered, and the fans scream their approval. This is a very straight version, and there is no fooling around with Kathy Westmoreland which is not surprising considering the recent events of July 20 in Norfolk during the evening (but this is another article!) - until Elvis sings the last verse again similar to the ending of Hurt. Just as he starts to sing "...(my) heart" a girl screams and he says "Thankyou. Is that enough?" and promptly stops there. Then annouces "Bridge Over Troubled Water". The introduction is filled with screams like the April 14, 1972 Greensboro version, during which Elvis asks, "Where is she?" presumably referring to the girl who screamed during the last song. This version of BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER is well compliemented not only by Jerry Scheff's bass, but the audience screams in the appropriate places. Interestingly is the slower than usual tempo, and the way Elvis held his notes. It reminds me of the way he treated The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face in Birmingham on December 29, 1976. Bridge is truely an outstanding version to say the least, and ends with a standing ovation. "Let's do Polk Salad" ignites Jerry's bass at a speed I'd not heard before on this classic. Elvis is up. The band is up. And I wouldn't be surprised if the first mosh pit started at this concert. It's a wild version, and the audience is screaming it's brains out. Elvis throws in a subtle "Suck a lot" during his "Sock a little Polk Salad" routine.
The band introductions are typical for this time of year, same "Crew Cuts" jokes etc. Ed Enoch gets one of his first "blonde head kid with the wild look in his eyes" introductions. James Burton does JOHNNY B.GOODE however Elvis sings very little of the words, except mainly the "go Johnny go" lyrics. Surprisingly, just when you think James is about to end the song, he plays another verse. Ronnie turns into Animal from the Muppets during his drum solo, and Elvis yells a few approving "yeahs" during it. Jerry Scheff from Vancuver Canada is told to play the blues, and he attracts some screams from the girls (onya Jerry). Glen D performs the same solo as he did on the June tour, and Charlie is introduced as "being in the army with me". The fantastic Joe Guercio play SCHOOL DAYS with Elvis singing along with just the Hail Hail Rock & Roll lyrics.
In the last few shows, Elvis had been performing a large selection of his recent Today album, and this night was no exception. "My latest record is T-R-O-U-B-L-E", and this is a well performed version with no mistakes. Elvis throws in the "walk it, ride it" comments during the ending which he tended to do whilst riding his virtual motorcycle. Following is a rarely performed version of SHAKE A HAND. After telling the engineer to turn the piano up, Elvis starts a bluesy version surrounded by sreams of admiration. It is obvious he was cooking with gas when he decided to sing this song.
Elvis introduces his Dad, and states that Vernon's favourite song is PIECES OF MY LIFE, and that is what Elvis sings. Elvis swaps the lyrics of "I found the sad parts, found all the bad parts" to "I found the bad parts, found all the sad parts". Elvis' voice must have sounded brilliant as it filled the Civic Centre that night. A woman called out "You're beautiful" just before the line "Lord the pieces of my life are everywhere", and the girls screamed at the line "And the one I miss most of all, is you".
"I'd like to do a gospel song that we did in 1966 which features the Stamps called" HOW GREAT THOU ART. Yet another focused song performed this night with unique pronounciation. I am sure the roof was blown right off when Elvis sang "Oh mmmyyyyyyyyy Godddddddddd, How Greeeeeeeaaat Thou Arrrrrrrttttt"! And we get a reprise like the March 20, 1974 Memphis version, but this Ashville reprise is worthy of a Grammy all on it's own. Elvis receives a long standing ovation, to which he says "I appreciate it. Thank you very much. God bless you, and be careful driving home". Glen D introduces CAN'T HELP FALLING IN LOVE as cries, screams, whistles, and the calling of Elvis' name plagues the rest of the show. Elvis is heard telling his fans to be careful. This version is the only time I have ever heard Elvis thank the crowd AFTER he finished singing Can't Help Falling in Love. As Elvis leaves the stage, the crowd let out one last wild applause in the hope that he might return, only to hear Al Dvorin say, "Ladies and Gentleman, Elvis has left the building. Thank you and good night".
Aside from a few incidences that we could justify as showing off, being the centre of attention, and generally being excited like a kid with ADD, this closing show proved to be a concert that was energetic, generally focussed, enthusiastically accepted by the paying audience, and exciting even twenty five years after the event. If you can get your hands on this audience recording, do so. This show is as good as the Uniondale shows from July 19th, and just as good as any show from December 1976. Thanks goes to Geoff McDonnell for his help.