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CONCERT DATE: May 4 1975. Lake Charles LA.

Older Elvis Woos Crowds with Hugs, Kisses, Songs
by Ann Gilbert
Lake Charles American Press

Thousands of females, ages 8-80, are carrying pleasant thoughts and warm feelings today as they recall the 50 minutes they spent with Elvis Presley Sunday in the Civic Center. Who can or would dare try to explain the worship and love a fan feels for a performer - the excitement and desire to see him, touch him, possess something of his, whether an autograph or artifact.

A myriad of performers can attest to the fleeting quality of fame. Since the rock era rolled in about the mid 50s, only one entertainer has been able to sustain for 20 years that feverish pitch of audience appeal, that celebrity status, enjoyed by few for very long even among actors, athletic stars or government leaders. Baby-faced, swivel-hipped Elvis finally met his Southwest Louisiana fans. Accompanied by husbands, boyfriends and fathers, they hung on every word of the sexy-voiced singer. Few jean-clad youth were seen among the mainly 30-ish crowd.

Elvis seems most at home when belting out a spiritual or a blues song though his satisfied his audience with R&R oldies that made him - Hound Dog, Love Me Tender, I Got a Woman, All Shook Up and Don't Be Cruel. Two of his greatest Heartbreak Hotel and Blue Suede Shoes were left out of the program.

Approaching middle age, Elvis still retains that little boy tenderness and emits a polite clean-cut image. The years have been kind to his face but it was a shock to see the star is human and whether from rumored illness or overeating has gotten much overweight.

Elvis loves his fans and acknowledges their craving for a touch and a tangible remembrance. Beckoned by him, lucky girls and women in the front rows squealed ecstatically as they received a kiss or scarf pulled from around his neck (and dampened with perspiration.) A handy supply of the neckties waited nearby, each to be treasured, no doubt, by its owner. The thousands left to watch would identify with the recipients of Elvis' affection with cries and clapping.

Since the singer never accompanied himself on guitar, his hands were free to communicate with the fans. Advance men on the tour had requested the stage to be lowered from six feet to four, the better to reach his adoring public. "You are one of the most responsive audiences I have played for," Presley told the group. "I would like to come back." With that sincere comment he sang I Can't Help Falling in Love with You, one of the highlights of the show. Also well-received was an arrangement of the Civil War themes, Dixie and the Battle Hymn of the Republic.

Elvis introduced the style of body movement as an integral part of rock song. Slowed down a bit by age or weight, his actions seemed mild recalling the days when the bumps and grinds were censored by the Ed Sullivan show which presented the "obscene" singer from the waist up only. The crowds were amazingly orderly, thanks to hundreds of police in uniform and plain-clothes. The star did remark about the poor sound system which squawked at times. It was a fast-paced show starting on time but fans did have to wait through several groups and an intermission before the singer's appearance. If all indications are correct, Elvis will be back.

Courtesy of Scott Hayward