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CONCERT DATE: July 11, 1975 (8:30 pm). Charleston, WV. Civic Center.

Flash! Elvis Did It
by James I. Carnes
Charleston (WV) Gazette
Saturday, July 12, 1975


If the person who invented flashcubes gets paid for each one sold, he's making a mint this weekend.

For most of the two hours of the Elvis Presley concert Friday night, the Civic Center arena was bathed in the flash light.

The house lights dimmed. The announcer said, "Welcome to the Charleston Civic Center." There was applause, and the flashing began. Only a few musicians were on stage with the announcer, but the crowd took pictures.

A warmup band, Voice, was introduced. The trio took the stage. The room was flooded in flash. The group sang, was hurried off and followed by a comedian. His name was Jackie something. It was pronounced only once and then hurriedly.

The pace had to be pushed. The excitement mounted.

The Sweet Inspirations were presented. They sang several tunes - each excellently. After a rousing opening with "Philadelphia Freedom," they sassed their way through "Lady Marmalade" and then lingered lovingly over a Stevie Wonder medley that included "For Once in My Life," "Superstition," "You Are the Sunshine of My Life," "Living for the City" and "All in Love Is Fair."

Finally they were finished. The crowd applauded appreciatively. The announcer returned.

The excitement in the room was evident. Women fidgeted in their seats, little children squirmed, men moved. It was time. It was about to happen.

The announcer took the microphone. This was it...

"It is now intermission time!" he boomed. "Ohhh..." the audience groaned.

The minutes creeped by. Many left for the concession stand; others were afraid to leave for fear they wouldn't make it back to their seats in time.

At last. The announcer began urging the attendants back to their seats. "For your safety and convenience, we cannot begin the second half of our show until all the fans are seated."

"C'mon," women urged. "Sit down." How can they hold us up this way, they seemed to ask. The announcer encouraged them again to find their seats. Many lingered by the stage, hoping to be there when the moment came and He appeared.

It was not to be. Everyone had to be seated (or at least out of direct sight) before the show would begin.

Finally.

The Joe Gershaw Orchestra began the opening notes of "Also Spach Zarathustra" (theme from 2001 and now Elvis' theme).

The house lights were dead, but you wouldn't know it. The arena was filled with strobe flashes from cameras spread throughout it.

Necks were craned; seats were left; all eyes were on the stage. And then...

The reaction should have been anticipated. There were screams; there were gasps; there were sighs. There was a long, strong round of applause.

He had done it. Presley had appeared.

Unnecessary spotlights combed the stage and centered on Elvis. Flashes continued from every corner.

When the music began, the audience calmed. The flashes continued - they didn't stop at any time he was on stage - but the 10,000 jammed into the arena actually hushed to hear him sing.

And did he sing?

"C.C. Rider," "I've Got a Woman," "Love," "All Shook Up," "Let Me Be Your Teddy Bear," "Don't Be Cruel," "Hound Dog," "The Wonder of You," "Burnin' Love," "Why Me, Lord?" "How Great Thou Art," "Let Me Be There," "Funny How Time Slips Away," "Mystery Train," "Can't Help Falling in Love."

How did he sing? Did anyone care? He came, that was enough.

For the record, he was good.

Review courtesy of Gary Abernathy