Sunday, February 19, 2023

Review Last Vegas International Presents - Opening Night 1972

Fifty years after the event, the U.K. based Memphis Recording Service released a revamped edition January 26, 1972 Opening Show performance as recorded at The Hilton hotel in Las Vegas. This engagement ran from January 26th through February 23rd, 1972, 57 shows it total.


This show was originally released by the 2001 import-label in 1997 as ‘Opening Night’ and the Follow that Dream collectors label gave us a few tracks as bonus performances on the ‘American Trilogy’ CD. And now the MRS record-label presents the show once more, but remixed to stereo. 


Let’s take a listen to Elvis kicking off 1972 in Vegas! 




The label sticks to its format with another striking design. Imposing a picture of Elvis trying on his Red Pinwheel suit (aka ‘Burning Love suit’) in his suite over a picture of the hotel’s stage really works, whatever the purist may say. A compliment to designer Kev Reape. 


Inside the 20-page booklet we find spot on liner-notes, placing the 1972 Opening Show and Vegas engagement in an historical perspective, photographs and various pieces of Vegas memorabilia to complete the picture.


Also nice to see how much difference it makes seeing Elvis fitting the Royal Blue Fireworks suit in his suite, with his feet sunk deep into the deep pile carpet on the floor, and how that same suit lights up on stage. 




The Memphis Recording Service presents a complete concert with the ‘2001-theme’ and part of ‘See See Rider’ spliced in from another concert as the original tape was incomplete. For us collectors this splice wouldn't have been a must, but for the general market it's certainly better to present a complete concert. 


It was great to listen to this performance once more as it had been a while since I last played the 2001 bootleg. The concert is very entertaining with Elvis and the band all geared up for a new year and a new season. 


Elvis replaced ‘That’s All Right’ with ‘See See Rider’ for the opening and 'You Gave Me A Mountain', 'Never Been To Spain', 'A Big Hunk O'Love' and 'An American Trilogy' to an already strong and entertaining the set-list. 


Some of the highlights are ‘Proud Mary’, just listen to the “yeah!” from stage as the song really gets going, and Elvis pushing the band “take it on up”. 


The live debut of ‘You Gave Me A Mountain’, performed more gently than in later years, just listen to his phrasing on the song, and his recent single ‘Until It’s Time For You To Go’. These songs illustrate the new Elvis who had found a new had tapped into new repertoire the past years which brought him back to the charts and on the road, doing what he did best, perform live on stage! The ‘On Tour’ movie, which was shot just a few months later, shows this. 

Other highlights were ‘Polk Salad Annie’ with a rockin’ Jerry Scheff on bass, more audible thanks to the new mix. ‘A Big Hunk O’Love’ sounds great and you hear Elvis enjoys singing his old hit again. More so than the other “oldies but goodies” as he calls them. Just listen to him calling out “Jerry Lee” for piano and James Burton on guitar to play their parts. 


Some great audience interaction can be heard during ‘Hound Dog’. When Elvis sets up his finale, a fan from the audience jumps in and finishing the song for our man by shouting “You ain’t no friend of mine” exactly at the right spot. A great ending that doesn’t ruin the performance, as Elvis handles it perfectly. Great to listen to the Vegas crowd so involved. 


Vocally the highlights are a heartfelt ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ and a great ‘American Trilogy’, making its live debut. Just like on ‘Mountain’ Elvis performs this new song more carefully than in later years. Elvis really tried to do a good opening show, and you hear it. Elvis isn't very talkative, concentrates on his singing. Perhaps it helped that some celebs and friends like Sammy Davis Jr. (who he mentions during the show) are present. 




Besides the show itself, which has fallen into the European public domain making it eligible for a public release, the other selling point is the newly created stereo mix. And I must say this show does not disappoint.


The result of the Digitally Extracted Stereo technique depends on the quality of the (mono) source-tape and craftmanship of the engineer mixing the separate elements back together again. This mix sounds open and fresh with a good stereo separation. 

The show has a “big venue” sound thanks to some additional reverb, Elvis takes center-stage and is up-front in the mix and the bass, piano and guitar are emphasized when needed. 

Yes, some occasional distortion can be heard on the loud parts and if you listen in detail there still is some hiss present but that is really nit-picking, as that is part of the source-tape which was not made with a release in mind. 

There is a difference audible depending the equipment or headset you use. The mix sounded fresh on Apple AirPods, but listening through a Beats headset, which emphasizes the lower sound-spectrum (bass) the mix was less clear and sounded too heavy for my liking. So depending your equipment, some tweaking of the equalizer may be in order (as with any release).


Overall this is one of the better MRS-mixes as the it opened up the audio of the previous outing of this concert which had less depth and sounded a little muffled, especially the band as Elvis is very upfront in the mix. The mix and restoration added a live feel to the performance, creating a far better listening experience, and that’s what we buy - and in this case upgrade - our music. Once you've listened to this mix, you probably won't go back to the 1997 version that often.




Elvis was in great shape, physically and vocally, took his main occupation - sing for a live audience - serious again with a revamped set-list and a tight and solid performance. The mix is good, you can play it loud, the show is good, you should play it loud!

The CD edition of this show was released January 2023, the LP - available on clear and on black vinyl - is due March 2023.