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CONCERT DATE: October 22 1976 (8:30 pm). Champaign IL.

Elvis Is an Oldie But Goodie
by Martha Hirsch
Champaign-Urbana Courier
October 23, 1976

An Elvis Presley concert is a boon to flashcube manufacturers in America. The sellout crowd at the Assembly Hall Friday night might used thousands of flashes in an effort to capture each creaky twitch of aging idol of early rock and roll. Elvis, although he can't quite boogy with his thickening waist, nonetheless deserved the screaming adulation for his showmanship alone. Time may not have made him sexier, but it taught him how to sell it and how to make his buyers love it even at a scalper's price of $25 for $12.50 tickets.

His band was dressed in red sequined leisure suits. He brought 10 backup vocalists and a flunky with a unique function - which will be revealed in a few paragraphs. And Elvis Presley audience included people from all walks of concertgoing. Some of them looked like leftovers from a Jefferson Starship show. Others probably would have been equally comfortable with Lawrence Welk. There were number of families with children, a few middle-aged ladies with Elvis' name sequined on their T-shirts and a good portion of well-suited gentlemen who looked like stereotyped bank officers. Naturally, there were pretty young girls there, too. They stood in front of the stage and absolutely died whenever Elvis decided to slay them.

The band set up and turned up matter-of-factly during as intermission, which followed the warmup acts. Then an announcer came on and urged everyone to return to their seats "as quickly as possible so that Elvis can come on." Thousands scurried while those already seated laughed a little self-consciously at their eagerness. In darkness, the band began with the strains of Wagner's "Thus Spake Zarathustra," also known as the theme from the movie "2001." They squeezed out one phrase and -flash! - a colored spot illuminated some band member. It wasn't Elvis, yet.

Another few bars and - flash - another colored spot on the stage. Still not Elvis, and Lord how the tension mounted. When the white spot hit the doorway and Elvis himself sauntered out the crowd went predictably crazy and millions of watts in flashcubes winked in rapid succession, lighting the hall to its concrete rafters. He was dressed in a tight, white shiny suit with a sequined design on his back and legs. His shirt was opened at the neck, but his chest was not hairy. (Don't you want every detail?) He wore a heavy belt with a massive buckle, which was designed, one suspects, to disguise his somewhat fleshy belly. Yes its' true: Elvis is not exactly trim. However, those who sat behind the stage can testify that Elvis' rear still holds altogether.

With an acoustic guitar hanging from his neck as a prop, Elvis launched into his first numbers. He sang Jailhouse Rock and Love Me Tender and sounded like old times. Then the flunky swung into action. Elvis sang and inclined his head to this man in red, and the man draped a long white scarf around the king's neck. Then Elvis strolled to the edge of the stage and, mopping at a real or imagined drop of perspiration with the long, white scarf, he pulled it from his neck and dropped it into the hand of one of the girls at the edge of the stage. Then he inclined his head for another scarf and repeated the act - many times.

The young women who were thus favored frequently did little dances of sheer transported delight at receiving Elvis' personally sweated-upon scarf. A couple times - are you ready for this - Elvis dipped to one knee and kissed a waiting young woman. And when that happened, a grandmotherly voice cried out in a fit of jealous desire: "Those young things can't appreciate you."

Courtesy of Scott Hayward