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CONCERT DATE: June 27, 1976. Largo, MD.

Elvis' Popularity Grows By Leaps and Pounds
by Charlie McCollum
The Washington Star
June 28, 1976

Elvis Inc. came to the Capital Centre yesterday and was a smash success. All 40,000 tickets for the two shows were sold out within 48 hours, for a gross of somewhere around $400,000. During the intermission, there were a half-dozen pitches for Elvis "super-souvenirs" three for his latest album and one for a December appearance in Las Vegas. The hucksterism worked (one souvenir stand did $1,700 business at the first show). The leading item were copies of the scarves Elvis throws into the audience from the stage - at $5 apiece.

In the midst of all this shilling, there was some music, however, and it was a good deal less successful than the corporates ventures. In fact, yesterday's appearance by Elvis Presley, performer, was a travesty, a full scale parody of the show one of music's few real legends might have produced.

As a warmup, there was 45 minutes of Jackie Kahane, a comedian, and the Sweet Sensations, a singing trio. Kahane's repertoire has three good jokes, one of which he used yesterday. His set was mercifully short. The Sensations were on for a bit longer, but were no more effective. Their set featured predictable arrangements of the latest hits done in predictable harmonies.

AFTER A BRIEF intermission, Presley finally came on amidst a firestorm of flashbulbs and ear-shattering screams. (His intro, built around the theme from "2001," was more appropriate to (?) coming than a concert, as fully pretentious as anything the Capital Centre has seen). For a moment, there was the touch of surrealism to the whole affair. Here was a fat (chubby is no longer the word) man

wadding onto the stage went wild. The lean, mean Elvis is long gone and, in his place, is a William Conrad-figure wearing a Sonny Bono wig. Instead of the lithe movements of a panther, this Elvis moved with the grace of a pregnant water buffalo.

Only twice during the entire show did Presley flash indications of his true talent. His 45-second version of "Jailhouse Rock" was just nasty enough to set off yearnings for the old days. "Blue Suede Shoes" was also tantalizingly rough. The rest of the program was either eminently forgettable or downright obscene with the zenith coming on a rendition of "America the Beautiful" that could have been done better by the Johnny Mann singers.
The crowd loved it.

AS A PERFORMER, the modern Elvis has a lot in common with Muhamad Ali. Like Ali, he knows precisely just how much the American public - at least his segment of it - is willing to put up with; which in both cases is considerable.

The difference between the two is that Ali can still get it together for the big ones. He can still take on the George Foremans and the Ken Nortons and, at the very least, give a good accounting of himself. Elvis is either incapable of rising above the self-parody or, more likely, chooses not to - which makes his audience bigger chumps than those who paid to see the Ali-Inoki farce.

Elvis Presley is, as a legend, still the king of rock. Certainly, only the Beatles have had a comparable impact - both artistically and commercially - on the business. But the legend is fading fast in the face of shows like yesterday's at the Capital Centre.