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CONCERT DATE: April 27, 1976 (8:30 pm) Spokane, WA.

Fans Prove Elvis Mania is Ageless
by Joann Gibbs
Spokane Daily Chronicle
April 28, 1976


IMMEDIATE OPENING: World in need of an idol. Lifetime employment astronomical salary. Successful applicant offered adoration of a deity. Must be able to make little girls go out of their heads...

Once or twice in a century the job gets filled, and to the generation that workships him, the others never existed; theirs can never replaced.

But there are pay-offs for the faithful: Now and then, he comes to town.

Begins then a kind of madness. People stand in line all night to get tickets. Every other engagement is cancelled. No one feels it necessary to explain.

Ask a half-dozen of the reverent why they shelled out $12.50 to help fill the Coliseum last night, and the response becomes predictable: A blank stare which says, "How can you ask? Some things are given" followed by the verbal, "I came to see The Man," with a range of exuberance.

Two hours before the show was to begin, 50 or so people, each clutching a reserved ticket, waited outside. their numbers grew and grew, and the turnstiles spun from then until the house lights dimmed.

The crowd moved smoothly through the doors and to their seats. A beefed-up Coliseum staff kept everyone happy, and a contingent of uniformed city policemen kept them calm.

The hawkers were everywhere. Each sales pitch called to single-minded fans was more imaginative - and louder - than the one before.

A 30ish who bought the whole package moaned that she should have brought a shopping bag. A woman 15 years older opened the slick photo album and said, "They should have given us pictures when he was young. That's when he was cute."

People finding the seats, though, heard a plea which may rank as the low point in Coliseum history. A fellow with a microphone stood in front of the stage, showing "Elvis super souvenirs" and he said went like this: "Now we're holding up the beautiful 8-by-10 color photo of Elvis. In beautiful color. The beautiful color photos are beautiful. And now, the beautiful Elvis button, with the beautiful picture of Elvis. And ladies, the beautiful, gorgeous, beautiful Elvis scarves. It is a tradition to wave these beautiful scarves at Elvis when he comes on stage. And they're beautiful scarves in beautiful white and beautiful blue.

Judging from the paraphernalia people were juggling. the $3 photo album was worth the price; the $2 poster was a good buy, but since few of the $5 scarves were waved at Elvis when the strode on stage, some traditions seemed to exist only in the mind of the man peddling them.

To go anticipating that the place would be filled with 7,000 people 30 to 35 years old was to underestimate the scope of the singer's appeal.

There were thousands who remember watching the bottom of their television screens turn black one night 20 years ago, but their mothers, grandmothers - and their children joined the throng last night.

A girl who couldn't have seen her 16th birthday leafed through her album, clutched it suddenly to her breast and said, "Oh, this one's going over my bed."

Many dressed as if they had a personal date with the man. There was floor-length chiffon, satin and lace; there were jeans, too, and The Polyester Pantsuit. Men often came as Elvis' lookalikes. A youngish woman told her friend, "I was going to wear a see-through pantsuit, but thought better of it."

Not more than a minute after the announced hour, the lights dimmed. The screaming anticipated Elvis. The announcer introduced "the finest gospel quartet in the country today, " and J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet sing some up-beat, powerful - not to mention deafening and intelligible - songs of glory.

Then came Jackie Culhane, a comedian and the Sweet Inspiration, a trio so good they could make it on their own.

But the crowd wanted Elvis, and there was disappointment when the intermission preceded his arrival.

But then everyone got precisely what they'd paid for: The man glittering in a bejeweled black jumpsuit, teasing - maybe 30 pounds heavier than in his last appearance here - then immediately with a swivel of famous hips, haunting their screams with miniscule movements.

The songs were the ones everyone knew, and the familiar first bar brought more screaming when it was a fast "I Got a Woman," or "Poke Salad Annie;" a sort of reverent gasping for "My Way," and "So Hurt."

The required stampede the stage was continual, and Elvis ritualistically, wiped a sweating brow with what must have been a hundred scarves, and dropped them to women crowded at his feet. When a couple of them got a kiss, there was a mass envy.

Rarely did he pause, heaping memory on memory, unadulterated emotion on pure unabashed feeling. An hour with Elvis is an inexplicably personal experience, worth twice the going rate.

For other performers, an encore is mandatory. All Elvis needed to do was wave and promise to return.

Courtesy of Francesc Lopez