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CONCERT DATE: July 5, 1976 Memphis, TN.

And 22 Years Later, The Mystique Of Elvis Is Still Rock-Solid
by Walter Dawson
The Commercial Appeal
July 6, 1976

Twenty two years ago today Elvis Presley walked into Sam Phillips little studio at 706 Union and recorded "That's All Right" and "Blue Moon of Kentucky" and started an American art form.

Twenty two years of superlatives, adulation, mass hysteria. It has all continued unbated.

"If, over his career, Elvis has made some decisions that favored business over esthetics (like most of the movies and their accompaying soundtrack albums), he has nevertheless kept the faith in his beginnins at least in his concerts.

The live albums he has recorded since he resumed touring a few years ago have pictured an artist a little different than have his studio albums. Live, Elvis has shown his still large ability to rock, his capacity for tearing a word into a strictly Presley pronunciation and his talents for kicking an audience with a slurred phrase.

And last night before 12,000 at the Mid-South Coliseum Elvis kicked them by just coming out by just being there and letting them look at him. That was probably enough to satisfy most of them, but Presley gave them much more than that.

As usual the show opened with 45 minutes of gospel music, comedy and a few songs by the Sweet Inspirations, a three woman back-up group for Elvis. It was nice, all right but it was filler material.

Then came a 20 minute intermission during which the announcer ran off the list of souvenirs for sale and reminded everyone three or four times to "be sure to get yours". The hard sell finally subsided, the band came on, and to the strains of "theme from 2001," the crowd went crazy.

The music ended the crowd settled back. Then "C.C. Rider" was begun , the crowd jumped back up, cameras flashed , making it look like night warfare, and there he was.

He had only to look at a certain segment of the audience to bring it screaming to life, arms reaching hopelessly for him. It was crazy, and Elvis seemed to know it.

"It never ceases to amaze me, you know," he told them.

Taking his guitar from his aide, he joined the band in "C.C. Rider" then it was "I Got A Woman." The hip-swiveling that upset Ed Sullivan and the TV brass 20 years ago was now played for a joke. A little swivel, and then a pause for the crowd to react. Do it again wait, do it again, wait.

For a lot of the show, Elvis was smiling, seemingly at himself and his relationship with the mass of people screaming at and for him. It's as though it's difficult to take your performance seriously when the crowd greets every little thing with tumultuous noise.

And there were times when Elvis performed none too seriously, with just the barest of feeling. On the Pointer Sisters "Fairytale" he just tossed off the whole song. It was done quickly , almost mechanically.

Elvis' scarf routine worked the same way. With the stage front lined with security to keep the crowd away, Elvis forced people to come down. He tossed one scarf down to a grasping hand, and no hardcore Elvis fan could resist getting one. The stage front soon looked like a bargain-store sale. Middle-aged women, teenagers, a couple of women with small children - they all fought their way down. It was frantic, kind of scary. But on stage Elvis was nonchalantly tossing the scarves off almost as quickly as his aides put them around his neck

His material for the show captured his 22-year career - "Hound Dog," "Don't Be Cruel," "One Night With You," up tp his latest single "Hurt". He even included "America The Beautiful," "Since it's our Bicentennial year."

Twenty two years. A lot of people didn't think rock and roll would last that long. But it has, and if one thing was clear last night, so has Elvis Presley. If he has become a bit heavy with age (and he has), well,most of the people do. But he can still rock when he wants to.

He did "That's All Right," and introduced it as: "This is the first song I ever recorded here, called "That's All Right. I've had some people say, "Well, you can't do that song anymore" - well, you, by God, just watch me."