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CONCERT DATE: February 14 1977 (8:30 pm). St Petersburg FL.

Elvis: He Keeps on Giving
by Marilyn Brown
Evening Standard
February 15, 1977

About two years ago, Elvis came to the Tampa Bay area and really woved 'em. He was with his audience at Curtis Hixon - laughing, teasing, flirting and generally having a good time. It would have been hard to find a better showman or a more receptive, polite crowd.

Then last September Elvis did practically the exact same show at Bayfront Center. It was pandemonium. The King of Rock And Roll looked like a mechanical man who had been wound up and spewed on stage before a screaming mass of hysterical women. A grey-haired old woman was nearly crushed when she tried to get near the stage. The pale, paunchy performer carried on, oblivious to his adoring fans.

But it was thankfully different at Bayfront Center last night. Maybe it was all the paper, plastic and red velvet Valentines his fans in their fringed jumpsuits laid on the altar - errr, stage - before he came out. Maybe it was the decency they showed just in not brutally manhandling the 15 policemen lining the stage. Or perhaps it was just that Elvis was more relaxed and more like the king of old who wanted to give his fans more than a mere idol to worship.

The warm-up acts, the show itself almost duplicated the last two area performances, but there was a difference. This time, there was warmth. When his guitar strap broke singing C.C.Rider, Elvis gave the guitar to an ecstatic fan in the first row. Later he gave away his drink.

He apologized for the "icicles in my throat" from the weather on this tour, although that unmistakable strong, sexy voice practically unglued his fans from their seats. When he sang It's Now Or Never, he substituted "For God's sake don't bite me" after the line that "your lips excite me". And he spent a lot of time introducing his band, inclusing wiggling across the stage in the shadows while the spotlight was on his drummer.

There was still the hawking of "the ever popular Elvis buttons" and new portraits of Elvis "that look just like an oil painting." There were peanuts and cotton candy for sale and his best renditions of Hound Dog, Don't Be Cruel, Hurt and My Way.

To sum up the difference, last September fans left with their battle scars from fighting to get close to a performer who looked as if he were exploitated for the last time. Last night, one woman left, complaining "My toes are cramping up." I can only assume they had been curling up from a really pleasant performance.

Courtesy of Scott Hayward