Elvis Presley | Long Island Ny | 3pm Show | June 23, 1973
On June 23, 1973, it was unusually cool and very rainy in the New York City area. Yet I was feeling warm and 'sunny' inside as I was on my way to Long Island, New York to attend another Elvis concert. Having seen Elvis deliver amazing action-packed shows in 1971 (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) and 1972 (Madison Square Garden, New York), I was really anticipating this one. Fresh off of his 'Aloha from Hawaii' triumph, I couldn't wait to get to the Nassau Coliseum. Since I was still too young for a drivers license a friend of the family drove us the 2 + hours from our home to Long Island, New York. Once inside we were treated to the Sweet Inspirations, Elvis' traveling comedian and then the Intermission. At every concert I attended before and after 1973 we always let out a loud 'groan' with the announcement of the Intermission. I had seats about 16 rows from the front of the stage on the side where the Sweet Inspirations, The Stamps, and Kathy Westmoreland were seated. I wasn't going to move during the intermission. I stayed right in my seat.
After 15 or 20 minutes the lights began to flicker and then an announcement to return to your seats as 'we are about to begin the second half of the show.' Uniformed security guards lined the stage as the band members came on stage and then without warning the house lights went out. If any of you reading this have ever attended an Elvis concert from the 70's, you know how surreal it is when the lights are out and the band begins 2001: A Space Odyssey. Screams were heard from every corner of the Coliseum during the theme. At long last the finals strains of 'AAAAHHHHH' could be heard.
At the same time Ronnie Tutt began pounding the drums and the spotlights began circling the building. We were all on our feet cheering wildly, some were rushing the stage making the security guards know that they were in for a long afternoon. Then as the full orchestra and band were blasting together, the spotlights all fixed on one spot at the rear of the stage and there he was! Elvis walked on stage smiling from ear-to-ear to the now deafening standing ovation he was receiving. Flash bulbs (much like you see in the movie 'Elvis: On Tour') were exploding making it look like a million strobe lights.
Elvis walked quickly back and forth, greeted us, and tucked his scarf in his jumpsuit as Charlie Hodge put Elvis' guitar on him. At first I thought 'Oh, my, Elvis is wearing the Spectrum jumpsuit, but then I realized this was a different suit. It has since become known as the 'Snowflake' jumpsuit. You had to see it live to really appreciate it. Each time he moved lights reflected off of the many sequences giving the appearance that lights were coming from his suit toward us in the audience. It was an absolutely beautiful jumpsuit.
Amidst the screams Elvis quickly walked up to the microphone and jerked it back shouting, 'Oh See, See See Rider ...' This was the first live concert where I heard 'See See Rider' performed as the opening number. A really good version as I recall with some really good leg movement. Near the end I remember Elvis yelling to the band 'take it down' and he did some head jerks and leg thrusts to the sheer delight of us in the audience.
After a few 'Well, well, wells...' Elvis went into a quick and really good version of 'I Got a Woman' followed with a brief 'Amen' thrown in. This was also one of the first times I heard J.D. Sumner with his 'dive-bomber' routine. This performance was not as strong as the one I heard in 1971, but a solid version nevertheless. Elvis greeted us with two 'Good Evenings' (even though it was afternoon) and then said it was a pleasure to be here.
Next was 'I'd like to sing a little bit of 'Love Me Tender' for ya.' He did what he did in TTWII when he stops the song and says, 'I just said I'd like to...' to the laughter and screams of us in the audience. A really nice version of this 50s classic followed. Some of the ladies sitting around me were crying as others just screamed with delight. His voice was so good and this version so serious it's too bad he didn't sing a few more verses of this one. Huge applause following this one and as the applause is settling down Elvis says, 'Excuse me... I lost something', and he proceeds to pick up a pair of female panties which were thrown on the stage! He picks them up and says, 'They're not my size', and we all laughed. He tossed them to a surprised Charlie!
Then it was right in to a song which I have always liked, 'Steamroller Blues'. I liked this version even better than 'Aloha.' James Burton was really hot on the guitar and Elvis voice was so good. Absolutely awesome!
Elvis told us that we were a good audience and then it was the great 'You Gave Me a Mountain.' I heard Elvis sing this song about a half-a-dozen times live and this was one of the best as I recall. He basically stood just right of center as your looking at the stage and hardly ever opened his eyes while singing. Incredible!
At the end of this song a bra and another pair of panties were thrown on stage. Elvis sees them, walks over and picks them up. He showed them to us in the crowd and says, 'There's going to be a lot of naked people out there soon!' We all roared! He then said he wanted to do a medley of some of his records and broke into a really nice version of 'Love Me.' As I remember he added another verse then I heard him do it in 71 and 72. Really good! Near the end of this one someone threw what looked like a doll onto the stage. Elvis retrieved it and said, 'Now wait a minute there's a weird-o in the bunch'. He then tossed the doll to someone off stage.
Then immediately it was into a rocking version of 'Blue Suede Shoes.' Really quick and a lot of fun to watch Elvis shaking hips, legs and shoulders, while interacting with the band.
Next came one of the highlights of the afternoon. Elvis did what has become know as the 'Rock Medley' featuring songs like 'Long Tall Sally', 'Whole-Lotta-Shakin'-Goin-On', 'Mama Don't Dance', 'Flip, Flop and Fly', 'Shake Rattle and Roll', 'Jailhouse Rock', 'Whole-Lotta-Shakin'-Goin-On'. I was exhausted after this one. Elvis had a lot of leg, hip, shoulder, and arm movements on this one. Screams and flashbulbs were constant during this great medley. At the end even Elvis went 'Whew!' a few times.
As the applause began to subside Elvis introduced us to one of the pleasant surprises of the afternoon, the song 'I'm Leavin'.' I have always liked this song and thought it was one of Elvis' underrated gems. This version as I recall was done so nicely with Elvis hitting all of the falsetto notes brilliantly! At the end Elvis received loud applause and many people, me among them, were on our feet.
Elvis then delivered a second pleasant surprise with the announcement of 'How Great Thou Art.' I had seen Elvis sing in Philadelphia in 1971 and this version is every bit as good as that version. It was so neat sitting so close to watch his facial expression on this. So sincere, and if possible with a sell-out crowd screaming, so reverently delivered. He finished with a loud high-note ending. As the standing ovation continued it was obvious that Elvis was humbled by the long and deafening applause. He asked 'Do you want to hear the last part again?' and even as we were shouting he went into a reprise of this classic. His voice was just magnificent! Most of us were on our feet throughout the reprise.
He then went into a 'cha-cha' version of 'Hound Dog' much like he did in Madison Square Garden. He finished it with in a loud and rip-roaring fashion, throwing a scarf into the crowd at the end.
He then looked back to James Burton and simply said 'Fever.' This was a favorite of many in the crowd, especially the females. He demonstrated a great deal of hip action here. What was so cool was watching the spotlights merrily dance off of the sequenes during his movements on this one. One thing I remember is how many of us were clapping with the music. It was neat.
Elvis thanked us, told us we were a good audience and moved on. Next came a song which I was hoping he would sing. Ever since 'Aloha' I have loved Elvis reading of 'What Now My Love.' He delivered a powerful version here. I remember how crisp and beautiful Kathy Westmoreland's voice was on her parts. One part which was chilling for me and many others sitting around me was when he sings the part, 'no one would care, no one would cry, if I should live or die'. He looked at us in the audience with his eyes wide open as he sang that. Some of the women around me screamed out 'No', obviously reacting to the words. He finished with the band kicking in loud and simply magnificent. Again, for those around me and myself, another standing ovation.
Elvis received the ovation and then jumped into a really nice version of 'Suspicious Minds.' The Elvis classic from 1969 wasn't done with the same quick tempo as 1971 or 1972. However, it was a very enjoyable performance. Elvis featured a great deal of leg and arm movement (more than 'Aloha'). He did the 'I hope this suit won't tear' bit and received hopeful screams from many of the women. Elvis ended this great song with just a couple of karate chops. Now it was time to introduce the members of his stage entourage.
Just straight introductions and no solo's which would become part of his show in later years. One interesting 'change' was Emory Gordy on bass. At the end of the introductions Elvis thanked all of us 'for coming out to see the show in all the rain.' And then he said we 'were out of sight!'
Another pleasant surprise was the next song, 'I'll Remember You'. Elvis introduced it as a song he sang in 'my recent TV special, Elvis in Hawaii.' I have always loved this song and never understood why it was hidden in a movie soundtrack album. Elvis delivered an amazing performance this afternoon. Many of the young women sitting around me were quietly squealing as he was singing this. I don't want to get to emotional here, but this performance was so special it's as if he was singing it just to us in the crowd.
As the applause began to subside Elvis said, 'You know what I can't do?', and then launched into a really good version of 'I Can't Stop Loving You.' This version was not as fast or powerful as the one I heard at MSG, but it was very good nonetheless. During the ending of 'in dreams of yesterday', Elvis played with the 'yesterday' ending a great deal. He would grab his belt (which received screams), he would look at women in the audience and wink (which also received screams) before ending it with a high note.
Elvis' all time show-stopper was next, 'An American Trilogy'. We really wanted to hear this song and Elvis really delivers on this one. This song is awesome on vinyl, tape or CD. BUT, when you had the chance to hear it live there simply are not enough adequate words to describe it. During the drum roll as the houselights went out screams could be heard from all over the coliseum. As the horns were blasting many of us were already on our feet applauding. When the backup singers hit the note for 'Glory' a spotlight hit center stage and Elvis was there arm outstretched and belting out the final notes of trilogy. Even before Elvis finished the song it seemed like nearly everyone was on their feet cheering wildly. It was a really long standing ovation. Elvis seemed to truly appreciate the response. Then it was a great 50's rocker, 'A Big Hunk O'Love'. This was a treat as I had not seen Elvis perform this live. Some good leg movements on this one, which seemed to still be thrilling many sitting around me. I recall James Burton and Ronnie Tutt especially being good on this one.
Following this rocking version of 'big hunk' Elvis had the lights turned on and he got to see just how packed the Nassau Coliseum was that afternoon. As you would imagine, a loud roar went up from us in the crowd. He kept walking around looking at all parts of the building saying 'your fantastic' over and over. He shook his head a few times in what appeared to be disbelief at the size of the crowd.
Elvis then said he'd 'like to sing a song from Blue Hawaii' and thus started into 'Can't Help Falling in Love.' What I remember most was the sincerity with which Elvis sang it on this afternoon. He greeted a few fans as he sang, but just kept looking a round the building. He ended with his trademark high note ending, dropped to a knee and spreads open a cape. Everyone was on their feet applauding wildly. As the band played the closing vamp, Elvis walked side-to-side on the stage greeting us fans. Elvis even paid homage to the fans sitting behind the stage, like he had done several times throughout the concert. Elvis again turned to the front of the stage, bowed one more time, and then rushed to the back of the stage and to several men waiting to receive him. They whisked Elvis off of the stage and to a waiting car, I'm sure. Soon the sound no Elvis fans wants to hear filled the Nassau Coliseum; 'Elvis has left the building, Thank you and Good afternoon'.
My third Elvis concert was now part of history. He was on stage for nearly one hour, but what an hour it was! As people filed for the exits I remained in the arena taking notes of what I had witnessed at this show.
Elvis really seemed to be enjoying himself at this show. The crowd was one of the most enthusiastic crowds I had been part of. While the Nassau Coliseum is a large arena holding many people, it seemed, to me anyway, that Elvis was able to transform this large venue into a very intimate setting. His interaction with the crowd and vice-versa was especially memorable. As I walked through the parking lot to the car for the 2 + hour drive home, the rain which fell didn't seem to be bothering me or anyone else leaving the show. We had just been part of yet another amazing show from the greatest entertainer of them all.
Elvis seemed to put so much energy into this show I couldn't believe that in just a few hours he would take the stage again for an evening performance! The ride home was indeed delightful. As I continued writing about the experience across the expressway and down the turnpike, I couldn't help but think, when would be the next time I would have an opportunity to see Elvis in concert.
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CDs | DVDs | Books
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Never before have we seen an Elvis Presley concert from the 1950's with sound. Until Now! The DVD Contains recently discovered unreleased film of Elvis performing 6 songs, including Heartbreak Hotel and Don't Be Cruel, live in Tupelo Mississippi 1956. Included we see a live performance of the elusive Long Tall Sally seen here for the first time ever. + Plus Bonus DVD Audio.
This is an excellent release no fan should be without it.
The 'parade' footage is good to see as it puts you in the right context with color and b&w footage. The interviews of Elvis' Parents are well worth hearing too. The afternoon show footage is wonderful and electrifying : Here is Elvis in his prime rocking and rolling in front of 11.000 people. Highly recommended.
Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD Video with Sound.