Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Proud Mary - 26 January 1970 Opening Show

Of the fifteen Las Vegas opening nights that Elvis performed in six a half years it appears that the only one not have been recorded in any way is perhaps the most significant show - Sunday , 31 July 1969. This was of course his return to live performing after release from the movie contracts. Despite professional recordings of shows later in the season specifically for a live 'In person' album it is still surprising that the earliest soundboard recording is four days into the engagement on 3 August. Even if RCA had no intention of using any material from this opening night one would have thought that at least it would have been recorded from the mixing board for posterity given the magnitude of this particular show. With that in mind it is also surprising that any type of audience recording has not surfaced which would at least give some audio documentation of this historic event.
This would leave any evidence of the opening night's setlist sketchy at best with any sort of record only possible by piecing together biys and pieces from reports of the evening.

The first Las Vegas opening night to be recorded was that of his next engagement on Monday 26 January 1970. The previous August Elvis' setlist had it's emphasis mostly on rock 'n' roll with the odd cover (Yesterday, Words) and recent hits (In The Ghetto, Suspicious Minds) thrown in for good measure. The January/February setlist would be somewhat different with a radical shake up in order to prevent the show from becoming stale. Many of the rock 'n' roll numbers would be retained into this new season as would the recent hits but there would be an introduction of many new songs and two new singles into the setlist.

On opening night alone Elvis would introduce TEN new songs, two of which were new singles an another two 50's hits not used in the previous engagement.  Later in the season more new songs would appear including 'Release Me', 'The Wonder of You' and 'See See Rider'. There was also a couple of personnel changes in the band and backing groups. Glen D. Hardin finally arrived replacing Larry Muhoberac on piano, Ronnie Tutt, having had a previous commitment was missing and his place was taken by Bob Lanning. and Cissy Houston had left The Sweet Inspirations leaving them without a soprano for this engagement.

Whereas Elvis opened every show during the previous August engagement with 'Blue Suede Shoes' this was now changed to 'All Shook Up' and after that came 'That's All Right'. Elvis would now introduce the first of his new songs......

'Proud Mary' a hit for Creedance Clearwater Revival a year earlier would be first heard on the 'On Stage' album.  This version is different even to the 'On Stage' version recorded three weeks later but the song would be dropped for the next two seasons before reinstatemant in August 1971 with a new faster arrangement and the omitted verse included akin to On Tour and MSG. Elvis would perform 'Proud Mary' for the final time at the third show of his August 1974 engagement in Las Vegas at the Midnight Show on 20 August.

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