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Music Concert Analysis

Music Concert Analysis

Elvis Presley’s 1973 “The Ultimate Experience” Live Concert in Honolulu, Hawaii

Music as an art is an evolving culture, and each generation often comes with a new genre. Rock-and-roll dominated the world’s music scene in the mid-20th century, especially in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. The Rock & Roll genre first burst into the scenes in the U.S. in the late 40s and early 50s, originating from blues and rhythm, boogie-woogie, jazz, jump blues, country music, and gospel (Campbell & Brody, 2007). The saxophone and piano were the lead instruments from the earlier versions of rock ‘n roll, although they were later substituted by guitar. The distinctive feature of this type of music is the presence of the ‘dance rhythm’ that stems from the beat. Typically, the beat contains an accentuated backbeat. Rock n’ roll was also credited for popularizing live concerts and raising a new breed of music rock stars. This paper will specifically focus on one of the most sold-out rock ‘n roll live concerts of the mid-20th century: The Ultimate Experience live concert performed by Elvis Presley in 1973 in Honolulu, Hawaii. Specific focus will be put on the performers, the type of music that was performed, the style period, the interpretation of the music by the performers, and the most interesting part.

The Performers

The title or theme of the concert was “The Ultimate Experience,” performed by Elvis Presley in 1973 in a sold-out arena in Honolulu, Hawaii. In this concert, Elvis Presley is performing together with his full orchestra, which is comprised of a team of instrumentalists and vocalists, including Mr. J.D. Summer and the Stamps Quartet, the ‘Sweet Inspirations’ vocalists, lead guitarists James Burton, rhythm guitarist John Wilkinson, drummer Ronnie Tutt, pianist Glen Hardin, and many others. The leader of the orchestra is Joe Guercio. I selected this particular online concert because it is one of the first concerts to be streamed live in the digital era (MikeyNL 1038, 2018). I also chose it because I am a big fan of Elvis Presley, who is considered, by all standards, the GOAT of rock ‘n roll and the most influential cultural pop star of the 20th century. Of course, this particular concert is my favorite because it was the first of its kind to be performed and televised or aired live by NBC to millions of viewers across the planet. It marked the dawn of satellite technology, with the Presley concert attracting nearly 1-1.5 billion viewers (Fessier, 2013).

Type of Music Performed

In this concert, Presley’s orchestra performed different song genres composed by different artists but using the rock ‘n roll style, ranging from Hank William’s country music song “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” to Frank Sinatra’s traditional pop song “My Way,” to Ray Charles’ country music song “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” to Gertrude Rainey’s blues song “See See the Rider.” It is a classical rock ‘n roll mix of pop music, rock music, jazz music, blues, and many others (Fessier, 2013).

The Style Period of the Music

The style period reminiscent throughout the concert is the rock ‘n roll fashion and culture. As mentioned above, Presley and his orchestra performed several popular songs from different music genres, including rock, jazz, and music, but gave it a twist of instrumentation present in live orchestra performances. Rock ‘n roll was the overall theme that clouded the songs performed, even though the orchestra (especially the instrumentalists) applied unique rhythms and beats to different songs, meaning that a different assemblage of instruments was used for each song. For example, the orchestra applied a small instrumental assemblage to “I Can’t Stop Loving You Song,” including guitar, drums, and a piano ((MikeyNL 1038, 2018).

Interpretation of the Music by the Performers

Admittedly, all the performers or members of the orchestra – from Mr. J.D. Summer and the Stamps Quartet, the ‘Sweet Inspirations’ vocalists, lead guitarists James Burton, rhythm guitarist John Wilkinson, drummer Ronnie Tutt, pianist Glen Hardin, fender base guitarist Jerry Scheff, to stage vocal harmonist Charlie Hodge – seem to interpret the music perfectly. I think they all communicated the music the way the composers intended it to be portrayed. For example, there is no doubt that the performers effectively executed the song “See See the Rider” by Gertrude Rainey – which was to have the lyrics adapt the repetition of lines in the stanza. For instance, the lines “Well, I’m going, going, going away baby” are repeated in the lyrics (MikeyNL 1038, 2018).

Piece/Part of the Music that was most enjoyable

One part I like about the concert is Presley’s performance of the song “Suspicious Minds.” I absolutely love the way instrumentation is used to portray the themes of mistrust and a dysfunctional relationship, especially how the rhythm guitar produces the slow rhythmic pulses. The song is so emotional, and the lyrics are so captivating, especially where he sings, “Oh’ don’t you know, we’re caught in a trap, I can’t walk out, because I love you too much baby” (MikeyNL 1038, 2018). His stage performance and dramatization are also epic.

Conclusion

Elvis Presley’s 1973 The Ultimate Experience live concert performance in Honolulu, Hawaii, is, without a doubt, one of the most memorable events that not only revolutionized the live broadcast event using satellite technology but also remains one of the most popular rock and roll orchestra performances. Presley–backed up by a full orchestra of instrumentalists and vocalists–performed a string of songs from different genres, ranging from rock and blues to pop music. This performance by Presley is epic and blockbuster because not only did the team manage to perfectly execute all the songs using the right instruments, but they also managed to convey the message intended by the original composers.

References

Campbell, M., & Brody, J. (2007). Rock and roll: An introduction. Cengage Learning.

Fessier, B. (2013, May 10). Director remembers landmark Elvis Presley’s performance. USA Today. https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/tv/2013/05/10/elvis-presley-aloha-from-hawaii/2151617/

MikeyNL 1038. (2019, Feb 4). Elvis Presley – Aloha from Hawaii, live in Honolulu, 1973 (full concert) The Ultimate Experience [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLmsZC45-m8&t=3105s

Music Concert Analysis

After either attending a live concert or watching a full length concert online, write a critique of the performance following the format below.

Here are a few examples of full length concerts you can find online (by conducting a web search using the criteria below) that could be used for this assignment:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLmsZC45-m8&t=3105s

You may choose a different concert video to watch, but be sure you include the URL of the concert you chose in your critique, or scan the program of the live concert you attended and attach it. The musical style of the concert should include at least one of the genres studied in this course.
The Concert Critique should be 2.5 pages longdouble spaced. It should contain five paragraphs that describe the following aspects of the concert you attended:

  1. Who are the performers? Give the title of the concert and write something about the performers. Is it an orchestra? A choir? An ensemble? Solo artists? Why did you choose to attend this particular performance? Tell as much as you know about the musicians that performed – are they professionals? Students? Teachers? How long have they been performing? Etc.
  2. Describe the music that was performed on the concert. Use the musical characteristics that we have been learning in class. What genre is the music (opera aria? Jazz song? Standard tune? Solo instrument piece? Symphony?)
  3. What style period was the music written in? What was the tempo, dynamics, texture, etc.? Sometimes the music in a concert will be only one genre. Sometimes there will be several genres performed. Attach the program to your critique, and then refer to the titles in the program. For example: “Autumn Leaves” was performed by a small instrumental ensemble (guitar, bass, and percussion). It is a standard contemporary tune. The tempo was a moderately slow ballad.  It had a very mellow sound…
  4. Tell how well you think the performers interpreted the music that was on the concert. Were the singers in tune? Did the piano player play musically and rhythmically? Do you think the performers communicated the music as it was meant to be communicated by the composer?
  5. Tell which pieces or part of the concert was most moving or enjoyable for you. If you didn’t enjoy the concert very much, tell why you didn’t enjoy it. What could have been better? Be as specific as you can when expressing your opinion of the performance – don’t just write generalities like “It was nice” or “it made me feel like dancing”. Tell why the music made you feel like dancing. Write about why you particularly enjoyed that part of the concert.
  6. Conclude your critique by summing up the performance and telling us if you would go to hear these performers again – or would invite your friends or family to hear this performance/performers.

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