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CONCERT DATE: June 29 1976 (8:30 pm). Richmond VA.

Music
By C.A. Bustard
Richmond Times Dispatch
June 30, 1976


"You paid just to hear me go well, well, well?" Elvis teased as a spotlight full of hands strained to reach him.

Not quite, but not far from it. A full house paid just to spend an hour in the same room with him last night, and to take part in the ritual that Presley's concerts have become.

As it has for five years or more, the show opened with the spotlights centered on an empty microphone. The band struck up "Also sprach Zarathustra" (squirm, Stanley Kubrick; moan richard strauss), while the screams and squeals climbed the decibel scale.

BY THE TIME he hit the stage, Presley was visible only in the strobe lighting of flashbulbs, and the only music audible was the steady thump of the bass. The opening number was "See See Rider," but it took half the song to realize that in the midst of all the shouting.

So it went through the most of his show. Like the Beatles in their heyday, and like himself before that, Presley knows better than to play the musician when a crowd wants a presence.

He almost mimed his way through many tunes, concerned more with stopping to shake hands, accept gifts, pass out scarves and plant occasional pecks on the cheek than with singing.

THERE WERE no complaints from the legion of female admirers who trooped down to the stage front.

Though Presley's set was heavy with classic rock n roll - "Mean Woman Blues," "Polk Salad Annie," "What'd I Say," and "Johnny B. Goode," as well as his own '50s rockers - his heart seemed to be with slower, more dramatic songs.

"You Gave Me A Mountain," "Funny How Time Slips Away," "Love Letters," "Hurt" (the current hit) and a half-sung, half-narrated "America The Beautiful" brought out Presley's vocal moxie, which in turn prompted the loudest cheers from the crowd.

THE AUDIENCE stood for the patriotic anthem (curiously wedged in between "Fever" and "Polk Salad Annie") and joined Presley in singing the gospel rocker "Amen."

Dressed in a sequined white suit and growing a little portly as he approaches middle age, Presley is not the mover he used to be (who is?). He swiveled his hips and bent into low squats cautiously; most of his onstage time was spent walking around waving at spectators.

His musical helpers included a six-man combo. 10 backup singers (including long-time cohorts the Sweet Inspirations - last year's onstage spat in norfolk was apparently cleared up), and a Las Vegas brass section. for all their numbers, the backing musicians were relatively muted.

Presley's current act is musically varied and wellpaced, but so what? His concerts are emotional purgatives for his predominantly female fans, the 30-ish housewife's answer to the Saturday football game.

Courtesy of The Richmond Public Library