Saturday, 9 May 2015

The Next Step Is Love - 10 August 1970 Opening Show

In just over a year and through two Las Vegas engagements Elvis had evolved his live show to where he wanted it and to where the audience seemed to enjoy it. On returning to live performing the setlist mainly comprised of  'Elvis standards' from the 50's and 60's, a couple of new recordings (In The Ghetto, Suspicious Minds), a couple of covers, Del Shannon's 'Runaway,The Beatles' (Yesterday / Hey Jude medley) and The Bee Gees' 'Words' . He also included 'Memories' - a nod to the recent 'Singer Presents Elvis' TV special. Some contemporary covers and two more hits from the 'Memphis Sessions' were added for the Jan/Feb engagement and then via some highly succesful gigs at The Houston Astrodome Elvis arrived back in Las Vegas for his August 1970 Summer Festival.

This engagement would be no ordinary engagement. For starters MGM were there to film the first six shows over three nights which naturally would bring it's own pressures. As far as the setlist was concerned Elvis was now comfortable and confident enough to choose the styles of songs that he wanted to include in the show. He managed to fuse together a show which had country, pop and rock 'n' roll all included, Elvis truly had become the consumate all round entertainer.

Throughout the six shows filmed by MGM Elvis introduced a total of thirteen new songs and EIGHT on opening night and three of those introduced would never be sung live again. 'The Next Step Is Love' is the one of that three and was the only song from opening night of which that is true.

Recorded in Nashville just 2 months earlier (4 June) the studio version of this is excellent but I don't think it quite works live as the arrangement feels awkward and Elvis doesn't seem completely at ease in this performance. Maybe Elvis thought so too as he dropped it straight away and never sang it live again although his vocal is excellent.

This live performance was first heard on Disc #3 of the 2001 TTWII special edition CD boxset before the entire show was released on the FTD label that same year. The audio in this video is taken from disc #2 of Sony's excellent TTWII Deluxe Edition which contains the 10 August 1970 opening show from which this performance  is taken.

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