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CONCERT DATE: July 2, 1976 (8:30 pm). Baton Rouge, LA.

Elvis Show Proves Rock'n'Roll's King Still Tops; "Hawking" Detracts
By Tom Aswell
Baton Rouge State-Times
July 3, 1976

If nothing else, Elvis is a showman - first, last and always. The 42-year old Rock 'n' roll idol of the nostalgic fifties doesn't have as much bounce as he once did, but he gets the maximum mileage of what remains and every flinch, twist and jerk is carefully calculated movement designed to work his female-dominated audiences into hysteric frenzies.

And that's just what he did in the finest Elvis Presley tradition last night at the LSU Assembly Center before about 16000 screaming, moaning fans. The difference between last night's show and his appearance here two years ago - last night's was much better - is that his own segment of the show was lengthened and he did more of his own material.

The warm-ups were mercifully shortened this time. Two years ago comedian Jackie Kohane of Canada was less a comedian than a test of endurance. Fortunately, his act last night was considerably shorter. Unfortunately, it was virtually the same collection of stale jokes that he offered in 1974. The Sweet Inspirations and the Statesmen Quartet, the latter led by the booming bass voice of J.D. Sumlin, comprised the remainder of the warmup acts and they, too, were brief.

The most disconcerting aspect of the whole evening was the slick commercialism of the show. All during pre-show and intermission, some mysterious, anonymous voice kept hawking Elvis souvenirs - from Elvis buttons to autographed photographs and Elvis scarves. It seems that The Legend would be fully able to sell himself without the sideshow barker approach on the souvenir sales. But once Elvis swung into his act, it became easy to forget the minor irritations.

Home movies and tape recorders were much in evidence despite restrictions against both and the popping of flash cubes - most from impossible distances in the massive center - gave the appearance psychedelic lighting. The Presley paunch, which has been getting so much recent attention, wasn't as evident as expected, but the King of Rock 'n' Roll had his hair combed over what appeared to be a slight balding spot.

At some point early in his performance, some over-zealous female managed to grab a diamond studded ring on his left ring finger, causing a cut. Blood ran down the finger the remainder of the show while he held a piece of gauze in the palm of his hand.

He paid only lip service to some of the songs that made him the biggest name in popular music, but he also showed that his voice still possesses rich, dynamic qualities with his rendition of America the Beautiful. His performances of Fever, Poke Salad Annie and his latest single Hurt were also done with particular feeling, again proving that the Old Master can reach back for that something special when he really wants to.

Overall, his performance was a good one. The show was well-packaged, if a little too commercial, and the musicians and backup groups were excellent. And it gave those there precisely what they wanted - a chance to see Elvis.

Courtesy of Scott Hayward