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Concerts Reviewed - 1977

May 3rd, 1977 - Saginaw, MI.
by Rick Bayne

ELVIS often saved his best for the last date of the tour - June 26, 1977 and December 31, 1976 being two good examples.

Saginaw on May 3, 1977 is almost another example of a fine farewell show.

Despite a continuation of the sound problems that dogged the tour, the show features an unusual line-up of songs, good humor and a fair bit of energy but sadly falls away in the second half.

After a long introduction, Elvis launches into `That's All Right', the first rarity of the night and the first time he'd used his debut single as the concert opener for many months. It's a decent fast version and a welcome change to the regular opener, CC Rider.

Then it's straight into `Trouble' and things are looking great with another rarity plucked from obscurity.

Sadly after 30 seconds the `King Creole' classic is stopped on the line "my daddy was..." and it's back to the routine set.

I Got A Woman/Amen is an okay version, sung in good humor and including a long shake segment. It also features the first complaint about the sound system for the night.

`Love Me' is average for 1977 and then instead of the regular `If You Love Me' Elvis asks the audience what they want to hear.

He briefly takes on a `Happy Birthday' request and there's a few seconds of `Big Boss Man' before he launches into a brief `Hound Dog', unusually performed in the first part of the concert.

`Trying To Get To You' is next on the menu and it's a good version even though Elvis complains that it's hard to sing because he recorded it "62 years ago".

`Jailhouse Rock' continues the uptempo nature of the night before Elvis slows things down with a strong `My Way'. Interestingly, he sings without the word sheet after explaining that it was lost and asking the audience to forgive him if he goofs it up. He doesn't, proving he didn't really need to rely on the word sheet.

After a cut in the tape it's into `Little Sister' and `Teddy Bear-Don't Be Cruel'.

An okay (as always) `Help Me' follows before Elvis takes time to reassure the audience "regardless of what you've heard or read, I'm here, happy, healthy and singing".

More loud pops punctuate `It's Now Or Never' before Elvis responds to a request for `Love Me Tender' with a brief but nice version.

`Why Me Lord?' follows with high-pitched attempts to upset J.D.

The tempo is lifted with the swampy sounds of `Polk Salad Annie', although it suffers from a long false-start after more sound problems. In fact, it sounds like someone just shot the sound system.

Elvis eventually pulls things together and completes an okay version with an extended ending and `going down' segment.

Time for a breather after 14 full songs (at least two more than normal for this stage of the show) and a few snippets and Elvis launches into the introductions after an apology for the sound equipment and a promise that everyone on stage is doing their very best.

Joking with the Stamps slows down things and he misses the entry to `Early Morning Rain'. The tape cuts out near the start of this track and returns during Ronnie Tutt's drum solo.

Elvis joins in with `Hail, Hail Rock'n'Roll' but at the conclusion of the introductions he hands the microphone to Sherrill Nielsen for his tortured efforts on `Danny Boy' and `Walk With Me'.

`Mystery Train-Tiger Man' returns Elvis to centre stage and is an energetic version.

A promise of a new sound system for his return precedes his signature farewell tune `Can't Help Falling In Love'.

After such a promising start, only two songs after the introductions ends the concert on a downer. Where's `Hurt' or maybe some more vocal challenges on `Unchained Melody' or the light relief of `Funny How Time Slips Away'.

Sadly, the concert probably falls two songs short of reaching above average status for the period.

Rick Bayne

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