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Concerts Reviewed - 1977

"Duluth Revisited"
A Classic Bootleg review by Joern

On October 16, 1976 Elvis had performed for the first time in Dylan's hometown. Things didn't improve for Presley over the next six months when he returned to Duluth on April 29, 1977. The concert in Ann Arbor a few days earlier was possibly one of the best in 1977 in a year that didn't offer too much highlights, but the show in Duluth was one of the better ones.

The concert started with a solid version of 'See See Rider'. Elvis seemed to be in a good mood and willing to work for his audience. Different too many other recordings from 1977 Elvis sounded straight.

His rather good mood got obvious when he stopped the start of 'I Got A Woman' accompanied with lots of laughter. Concert collectors might be more or less bored with the 'Amen'-routine after hearing it very often, but for most of the people in the audience it was surely something new. In Duluth the part had without a doubt a certain charme. Audibly the audience in Duluth enjoyed the 'Amen' part a lot, which isn't a surprise at all after listening to it.

'Love Me' was sung for more than 3 minutes which didn't happen to often, especially in 1977. In comparison to other versions from this time one has to admit that Elvis ended the song with a beautiful high note, giving a little more than usual.

Just after the start of 'If You Love Me, Let Me Know' Elvis laughed out loud. The song stopped while Elvis asked why he was doing the song. He got the answer from Jerry Scheff who responded immediately "Because Joe [Guercio] hates it!". Laughingly he repeated Scheff's answer and stated "This is dedicated to you, Joe! What the fu#k, Jerry!" From then on the show improved as Elvis delivered a straight and powerful performance of 'You Gave Me A Mountain'.

'Jailhouse Rock' and 'It's now or never' were the next two songs. The first mentioned was the typical throw-away song as it has been since the mid-70s. Where the original song, which is undoubtful one of the very best recordings ever in music history, was vibrant with energy the version of 1977 sounded like a parody that lacked everything that the original was famous for. The better performed one of both songs was 'It's Now Or Never', which without a doubt would have been much better without Sherril Nielsen taking part in.

Somehow Elvis sounded like someone who has lost his self-assurance when he talked about the difficulties to cover high notes in general. He sounded like an old man that he wasn't at the age of 42. The talk was followed by a routine version of 'Little Sister' and the typical medley of 'Teddy Bear/ Don't Be Cruel'.

Then it was time for 'Bridge Over Troubled Water'. The song that had been an inherent part in the early 70s was done only three times during 1977. The version didn't compete with his finest versions from 1970 and 1972, but Elvis sings definitely the best version over the last two years. The song gained from his incomparable timbre that filled the hall. Surely this was a highlight for the audience.

The Simon & Garfunkel classic wasn't the only surprise this night, as Elvis offered a solid version of one of the very few versions of 'Big Boss Man' in 1977.

'My Way' was next and that is probably one of the finest example for Elvis' capability to make a song his very own. Somehow the song didn't work in 1972, but in 1977 it really was often a show highlight as it was in Duluth.

After rather short introductions of the additional singers on stage Elvis was into 'Early Morning Rain'. The last time he had sung a full version of it had been in Toledo on April 23, 1977. In Dulutuh the song is shortened as usual, but beautiful sung. James Burton played a part of 'Delta Lady' which he also didn't do that often. It was a nice change during the lenghty introductions of the musicians and their now familiar solos.

'Hurt' was next and after a false start Elvis did a very good version of it offering a real highlight of the show. Elvis then rushed through 'Hound Dog' as he did for the most time in the 70s - absolutely redundant. The typical 'Can't Help Falling In Love' marked the end of the concert in Duluth.

Loud screams and big applause for Elvis accompanied the closing vamp which ended with Al Dvorin's famous last words - "Elvis has left the building!"

In comparison to his best concerts, the performance in Duluth was only a shadow of what he was able to do on stage, but for 1977 one can admit that it was a decent one.

(c) Joern - August 6, 2011

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