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CONCERT DATE: June 9, 1972 (8.30 pm) New York City, NY. Madison Square Garden.

Presley, Talents Richly Intact, Shifts Emphasis to Rock/Gospel
by Don Heckman
New York Times
Saturday June 10, 1972

Elvis Presley finally made it to New York Friday night, in the opener of four sold-out concerts at Madison Square Garden that represented his first live appearance in Gotham.

The show was planned with the crisp dispatch and efficiency of the various Presley enterprises, all run by the powerful pitchman's had of the singer's manager, Colonel Tom Parker, The Sweet Inspirations , a soul group, did a respectable group of songs, and an aging comedian badly misunderstood the interests of his audience and beat a hasty retreat. Then -more suspense- a brief intermission.

Finally, the lights dimmed, the momentous production was made and Presley came bounding out, glorious in a white jumpsuit with gold-trimmed cape. For three or four minutes he moved through a series of tableau poses that would have intimidated Charles Atlas, while an explosion of Instamatic light cubes turned the Garden into a mass, stop-action strobe light show.

Shows Sense of Humor

But the Presley dug in. No nosense, little banter with either audience or accompanists - simply a sold professional doing a job he probably can do better than anyone in the world. In his maturity Presley has developed his sense of humor to a finely honed edge. When he finally got around to singing the much-anticipated "Hound Dog" he made several intentional false starts and finally, surprisingly, sang the song with a strong soul feeling and little of the country-boy grunting and grinding that had given the tune such early notoriety.

The most noticeable development in Presley's style, in fact, was the minimizing of the country and Western elements that had been so vital to his early music. The great majority of his numbers -and he ranged from current standards like "Bridge Troubled Water ," "Proud Mary," among others, to older hits like "Love Me Tender" and "Heartbreak Hotel"- were firmly locked in the currently trendish rock / gospel styles.

Cooly Relaxed Ability

Since Presley's music was one of the motivating forces behind the early evolution of that style, he uses it with understanding and ease. But at least some of the old, coarse power has been glossed over by his cooly relaxed professionalism, and his affection for the Dean Martin ballad sound is more is evidence than ever.

It turned out to be a program with a fairly rich menu but not much staying power. After 45 minutes he was gone without an encore. The effect was almost anticlimactic. Yet in sum we had heard enough to confirm that, even after 16 years, the Presley magic was as incredibly effective as ever. He is, without question, one of the real ones