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CONCERT DATE: November 10, 1970 Oakland, CA.

Elvis Shows Off His Sense of Humor
by John L. Wasserman
San Francisco Chronicle
November 13, 1970

WHATEVER IT IS - and no amount of analysis can pin it down - Elvis Presley still has more of it than any entertainer alive. His concert at the Oakland Coliseum Arena on Tuesday night was a lessonin charisma.

I have dealt in the past with Elvis as a singer (merely competent) and Elvis as business (big) but lest it appear I have nothing nice to say for the good ol' boy from Tupelo, Mississippi, let us worry today about Elvis as a performer. As such, even given that most of the audience is pre-sold, Presley is really magnificient to watch in action. Not the least of his appeal is his sense of humor, which is evident both in corny jokes and - more importantly - in his own self-image. In a way that was not as apparent in either show I saw a few months ago at the International Hotel in Las Vegas. Elvis takes his work seriously but not himself.

At times on Tuesday night, Presley's perspective of his own presence seemed almost to bring an aura of quaintness to the whole thing, as if the entire program was arrayed on an antimamacasser. Yet perform he did, exciting to his fans, fascinating to those less involved.

The show opened with fast bits by the Imperials (a group Elvis erroneously believes to be "The number one gospel group in the Nation") and the Sweet Inspirations - who may be the best female soul group now practicing. This was followed by Sammy Shore, the comedian who was with Elvis in Vegas (as were the two singing groups) and his own special and lovable brand of half-wit humor. Shore is the kind of comedian who still makes jokes about not being able to tell long-aired men from women. The crowd was the kind of crowd which laughed and applauded at that joke

At this point, 45 minutes in, an intermission was called - mass groans - and the availability of souvenir programs, posters and other types of the trade announced. Nine formidable guards gathered at the foot of the stage. Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis' Svengali, wandered around in an electric blue sports coat and the babble subsided as the magic moment approached. A thousand fingers went to the shutter button of a thousand Kodak Instamatics, 28,000 eyes strained to see - as KYA put it when advertising the new Presley film - Him.

THE SINGER bounded on stage, all in high collared white-with-fringes, tore into "That's All Right" or whatever it is, and bedlam broke loose. Beside the predictable shrieks, somehow less convinced with age, one measurement of a Star is flash-bulbs. And only the Superstars can turna darkened arena into daylight - and keep it there.

He shook his hair, waggled his leg, went to his knees, threw out his arms, lept, lept fro, cut the air to ribbons with karate chops (one of his hobbies), removed his guitar, removed his belt, removed his scarf, persuaded his shirt front to fall open, did not remove his pants.

He bumped. He ground. He fell over backwards (quite intentionally), kidded the girl singers, kidded his accompanists and shook. He played the audience like Horowitz plays piano, and sang "You've Lost That Loving Feeling (his most effective number), "Love Me Tender," Proud Mary" (with a tribute to other East Bay resident, Willie Mae Thornton), "I Got A Woman," the marvelous "Polk Salad Annie," the horrible "How Great Thou Art," "Johnny B. Goode," "Heartbreak Hotel, "Blue Suede Shoes" and "Bridge Over Troubled Water."

It all happenes again tonight at the Cow Palace. Even at $5, $7.50 and $10 a ticket the price is right. But if you don't have one already, forget it. The Cow Palaceis sold out. Twenty seven thousand tickets and $200,000 for two shows. Not bad for a merely competent singer

Courtesy of Francesc Lopez