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Elvis Live at the Hilton

Updated on July 31, 2012
Promotional Piece for Elvis at the Hilton
Promotional Piece for Elvis at the Hilton

In August of 1972 I went with my sister to see Elvis Presley at the Hilton International in Las Vegas. My sister, who had made previous visits, knew that you had to give big tips to the staff in order to get a premium seat, so she had this cash ready at hand. In addition she was one of the first to stand in line for the showing.

At the time a buddy of mine was enlisted in the Air Force and was serving some time at Nellis AFB. He became our party of three to see Elvis in action.

I honestly didn't know what to expect from the live performance. With both my mom and sister being huge Elvis fans, I had been subjected to every movie he ever made -- some were nice/okay/entertaining and others... well.

I liked a lot of his tunes and hoped he'd play some stuff with which I was familiar. We were seated in the front row but off to the right. The Hilton served a nice steak dinner and we felt satiated.

The Hilton
The Hilton
The Hilton
The Hilton
The Hilton
The Hilton

In 1972 Elvis was still pretty much in his prime. His entrance was proceeded with Richard Strauss' "Thus Spake Zarathustra." This was his signature bombastic entrance for the time. It led one to expect to see either Kubrick's Star Child from 2001: A Space Odyssey or an equally supernatural presence.

Finally, Elvis made his appearance and it was indeed rather magical. He wore his glistening, white jump suit, and presented quite a figure on stage. I believe his first tune was "See See Rider"

(arr. by Elvis Presley)
I said see, see, see rider
Oh, see what you have done
I said see, see, see rider
Oh, see what you have done
Oh girl, you made me love you
*****Now, that your man has come and gone****

hear what I say

Well, I'm going away, baby
And I won't be back 'til fall
Well, I'm going away baby
And I won't be back 'til fall
And if I find me a good girl
I won't, I won't be back at all

Hear what I say, I said

See see rider,
Oh see what you have done
Yeah, yeah, yeah

It was a great warm-up tune, and the audience was enthralled. The girls were screaming.

Now, Elvis would stride across the stage. He threw out scarfs and kissed the girls in the front row who could manage to get to stage height. My sister wasn't about to be left behind so stood on top of our table and reached up for her scarf and a smooch. The floodlight hit our table, and I wanted to crawl under it but didn't. It was all part of the show, and you got drawn into it whether you wanted or not.

The sequence of songs was more or less pre-arranged but blended together nicely. I particularly enjoyed Elvis' composite of his early works. As his voice had matured, the medley was all high octane. Most of the performance was at a fast tempo. He felt the need to update his earlier works to match with the music of the time.

I took it all in, and was thoroughly entertained from beginning to end. Actually, that's an understatement. Elvis put on such a dynamic show that I (along with most of the audience I surmise) was transfixed. It was the single greatest performance that I ever witnessed.

Elvis did two shows per day, and I still cannot understand where he summoned the energy. He put everything he had into every song. He held back nothing. And the amazing thing was that you could tell he felt totally at home and joyous on stage. Elvis completely enjoyed performing. It was unmistakable.

I'm just really glad that I had that unique opportunity. It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime events that you never forget. For members of the younger generation who may look upon Elvis as an antique, well, all I can say is by my accounting, he was an unbeatable talent. John Lennon once commented, "Before Elvis, there was nothing."

Elvis on Stage
Elvis on Stage
Elvis (circa 1972)
Elvis (circa 1972)

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    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 4 years ago

      Hi Ribatty, I really Enjoyed reading this Hub of yours on "Elvis". Wow, what a Treat to have actually seen him preform Live. You've given a great description of what it was like. Thanks for sharing!

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