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CONCERT DATE: October 23 1976 (8:30 pm). Richfield OH.

Elvis Spoofs And Sings, And It's Great
by Jane Scott
Cleveland Plain Dealer
October 24, 1976

"He's Still King!" "Kiss Me or I'll Just Die" More banners and posters popped up at the Coliseum concert Saturday night than at a Republican rally. One fan even had a battery-operated sign. Elvis Presley, the legend who put the roll into rock, was in town again.

The band struck up the "2001 Space Odyssey" as a fatter, middle-aged Presley walked up the stairs to the stage, holding on to both railings. Yes, he has a "bay window." He's 41. His famous pompadour is now a flat pang, his black hair too dark to be natural. That little quiver in his voice that sent shivers through fans from Berkeley to Boston is almost gone. His gyrations seem about as carnal as a chocolate soda. At times he seems almost like an imitation of himself. But when it comes to entertaining an audience, this "Memphis Meteor" still wears the crown.

An "ooooh" spread through the sellout audience of 20000 as the singer picked up a guitar and began his standard opener, C.C. Rider. And the followed with his usual second song, I Got a Woman. Then he suddenly tossed his guitar over his shoulder to his waiting rhythm guitarist, Charlie Hodge, just as he did last year. In fact, anyone who can pull the same format like this has got to be good. J.P. Sumner and the Stamps sang again, comedian Jack Kuhane told almost the same jokes(he left out his astrology bit this time, though) and then the Sweet Inspirations sang and danced up a storm. The Inspirations' act was gentler and less frantic than in previous years. And Presley sang different songs.One of the secrets of his staying power is his spoofing of himself. He flashes a boyish, winning smile at his band and at the audience as though to say "Hey, you know, I don't take this seriously anymore, so let's just have fun." "It's a pleasure to be here and I'll do my best to entertain you," he said. He did, especially the ladies in the front row. He leaned over the stage and shook hands. He actually autographed a poster and even knelt down and kissed a bouncy young blonde. But mostly he tossed myriads of white and blue scarves to waving women.

Hodge kept so busy as scarf supplier that he had little time for his rhythm guitar.

One of the tenderest moments came when a white scarf was passed along by security guard Harold Baker, 40, to little Robbie DiMarino, 10, of Lakewood, in the fourth row. Robbie came with his mother, Mrs. Albert F. DiMarino, his big sister, Chris, 17, three tanks of oxygen and an oxygen mask. Robbie has cystic fibrosis. He had to fight back the tears as he put his idol's scarf around his neck. Presley wore a dazzling white outfit with aqua and gold designs and a huge sparkler on his left hand. I thought he scored the highest with his reverent yet soaring rendition of America the Beautiful. He sang it and he recited it. His How Great Thou Art and Hurt were beautifully done. But some others, such as his first hit, Heartbreak Hotel, were disappointing, just sort of tossed off.

Some of the audience weren't even in bootees when Presley's Blue Suede Shoes ran up the charts in 1956. It ranged from 4-year-old Denny Summers of Parma who reported that he liked the show better this year than last, up to grandfather Dick Colllins of Euclid, who came with camera equipment. But most of the fans were in their mid-30s. The response may not have been quite as high as it was last year, but it still reached the rafters. Presley even overcomes the tacky merchandising of Presley products ("There's still time, folks, you've got two more minutes, step right up for your posters and booklets, only $3"). "Anytime you want us, just let us know and we'll come back," Presley promised, as thousands cheered. If he can come back with another hit like his "Bridge Over Troubled Water" his next concert will be even better.

Courtesy of Scott Hayward