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CONCERT DATE: February 17, 1977. Savannah, GA.

Emperor Elvis Still Has It: Memphis Music. Vegas Touch
By Kathy Trocheck and Albert Oetgen
Savannah Morning News
February 18, 1977

Everybody in the whole cellblock boogied to the Jailhouse Rock Thursday night at the Savannah Civic Center as Elvis shimmed through more than a dozen melodies to the delight of the crowd of more than 8,000.

Spurning his newer hit, Elvis stuck mostly to his earlier tunes, jazzed up with a eight-piece orchestra and a dozen supporting voices.

It was a mixture of Memphis music and Las Vegas showmanship blending into a well-oiled, snappy performance.

Music from "2001 - A Space Odyssey" with a strong brass back-up was the "Ruffles and Flourishes" that heralded the entrance of Emperor Elvis House lights dimmed, two red spots focused on the stage and he strode on the platform amidst a shower of roses from ecstasy front row fans and screams that rocked the entire house.

The lights were kind, but binoculars and zoom lenses trained on him betrayed his age. A form-fitting white suit with a sequined sun medallion on back conformed to his considerable and could not hide a middle-age paunch.

But the screaming fans who paid $10, $12.50, $15 and up for the chance to get a glance at him could not have cared less.

They came from Rincon, Statesboro, Estill, Beaufort and from all over Chatham County and the Costal Empire. They came to hear him sing and watch him sway.

And they went away satisfied.

Opening with a watered-down rendition of "C.C. Rider," Elvis seemed inclined at first more forward acrobatics than acoustics. But as the show unfolded his voice grew stronger and he quickly established a rapport with the audience.

During "Treat Me Like a Fool," Elvis relied heavily on gyrations that seemed more for the benefit of the thousands of clicking cameras than for punctuation of the song. At one point in the song, one of his pseudo-splits was greeted with wild screams, applause and popping flashbulbs.

Elvis eventually hit his stride with a medley of "Teddy Bear" and "Don't Be Cruel" He had told the audience that his frequent sips of cold water were to insure that his voice did not crack.

One die-hard fan screamed at the top of her lungs, "Just shake your legs."

Elvis rose to the occasion belting out a brassy version of "Trying To Get To You."

Isolated in a pure pink spot, Elvis borrowed a page from Frank Sinatra's notebook, showcasing his still-considerable in his version of "My Way." He made believers of the reluctant husbands and boyfriends who were dragged to the two-and-a-half hour long bash.

He sang, "I've laughed and cried. I've had my share of losing," to the occasional swoon of a female admirer. His athletic antics had more than one grandmother on the edge of her chair, craning to get closer look at Elvis' hairy chest.

His backup singers helped him out on the higher and the lower notes, discreetly staying in the shadows as he performed, but Elvis was at ease with his music for the most part, recalling days gone by when his range was unquestionable.

One of the weaker moments of the concert came when the King generously allowed the princes in his backup band to perform solos.

Musically, the individual performances were generally good, but all the crowd has its eyes glued on Elvis in the shadows, as evidenced by the squeals of delight that greeted his occasional twitch of the hips.

He was at his best with numbers like "Hurt," and "It's Now or Never." The aria-like intro to "Now or Never" echoed flawlessly through the awed crowd.

The highlight of the hour and fifteen minutes of Elvis was, in his words: "one of my favorites." Accompanying himself on the piano, he would the audience around his finger to the tune of "Unchained Melody," leaving the fans glued to their seats during the four-minute tune.

As is the case with a performer as popular and successful as Elvis Presley, some fans were left with a tinge of regret at his commission of such stock favorites as "Love Me Tender," and "All Shook Up."

He closed the show with his standard "Can't Help Falling In Love" Singing a bar and handing out perspiration drenched scarves, he worked his way around the stage, touching the outstretched hands of women who had inched their way past security guards to the edge of the stage.

But the crowd was happy and Elvis was great. As the lights went up after his departure, a voice boomed over the public address system, saying "Ladies and Gentlemen, Elvis has left the building."

Meanwhile Thursday night at the DeSoto Hilton where Presley stayed Wednesday night, a crowd of 25 or so jammed around the exit/ramp awaiting to catch a glimpse of their idol. At 9:39 pm Presley's jam-packed limousine emerged. "Eek! There he is. I saw him. I told you we'd see him," shrieked a bouffant-styled blonde to her 30ish girlfriend. They then jumped into their car, as did everyone, and followed Presley to the Civic Center.

A slimmer, younger Presley appeared in Savannah at the beginning of his career on June 25, 1956 at the old Sports Arena on Gwinnett Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.

Courtesy of Francesc Lopez