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CONCERT DATE: June 26, 1976. (2:30 am) Providence, RI. civic Center

Elvis, His Hips Thrill 27,000
by Tony Lioce
Providence (RI) Journal Bulletin
June 27, 1976


PROVIDENCE- "The single most spectacular event of the Bicentennial Year"- for about 27,000 people anyway- took place right here in Providence yesterday, not in Newport. And it was only about six feet tall and had nothing to do with ships.

Hips, yes. Ships, no.

It was, of course, Elvis The Pelvis, The King, who put on two shows at the Civic Center, and drove all the fans just bananas.

And quite an assortment of Elvis Presley fans it was, too. The songs the crowd liked best were "America The Beautiful" and "Jailhouse Rock." Figure that out.

At the afternoon show, there were people so old that they laughed at the warm-up comic's jokes about his son's long hair. There were people so young they cried when daddy told them, no, they couldn't have another bucket of popcorn.

Mick Perry was there, all the way from England, where he is vice president of the Official International Roy Orbison Fan Club. Carol Ciotola was there, all the way from Smithfield, hanging on to a teddy bear she would try to hand to Elvis from her very own front row seat.

Even Eddie Beard was there, from the House of Representatives, telling everyone how he'd "been waiting since 1955 to see this guy" and how he'd "passed up a chance to be on national TV just so I wouldn't miss this." There were people in neckties and people in tank tops, tall people and short people and fat people and thin people and hip people and square people.

And by the time it was over, there undoubtedly were some broke people, too. Everywhere one turned, there were "Elvis Super Souvenirs" on sale; buttons for $1, posters for $2, programs for $3, scarves for $5, T-shirts for $6. And every two minutes before showtime, a voice was heard over the loudspeaker, reminding all that there was "still time" to make a buy. "Every lady should have one of these gorgeous scarves," the voice would urge, "to wave at Elvis when he comes out..."

But all the people- young and old, foreign and domestic, necktied and tank topped, tall and short, fat and thin, hip and square, and broke- went absolutely bonkers when the house lights finally went down. So many flashbulbs flashed that it looked as if a strobe had been switched on.

The crowd didn't get to see The King for another hour and change, however. First, it had to sit through a very Vegas-y disco band, four white gospel singers, the warm-up comic (whose name was Jackie; these guys are always named Jackie), three black gospel singers, and an intermission.

Finally, though, the house lights went down again, and the band (seven horns, two drums, two guitars, two keyboards, one bass, and 10 back-up singers) struck up "Thus Spake Zarathustra", and There Elvis Stood. Looking a bit on the portly side, but still, it was Elvis The Pelvis, The King.

Dressed in an outrageous baby blue pants-suit sort-of-costume with the inevitable spangles all over the place, he started singing "C. C. Rider", and he drove them wild. Then he turned around to face the people sitting behind the stage, and he drove them wild.

Then he had his bass singer show everybody how low he could sing and the bass singer drove them wild, too. A wild bunch, to be sure. But never so wild as when Elvis was out there, singing, smiling, shaking those world-famous hips and- most of all- handing out scarves.

It was during a tune called, appropriately enough, "Love Me", that Elvis handed out the first of what must have been a million scarves. And just before he'd toss one out into the crowd, he'd always wipe his face with it, or hang it from his shoulders for a minute or so, just so the lucky recipient would know it had really been used and stuff.

Elvis sang oldies ("Hound Dog", "Don't Be Cruel", "All Shook Up") and newies ("Hurt", "If You Love Me Let Me Know"), but they were all goodies as far as the crowd was concerned.

Then, one hour to the minute after he first stepped onto the stage, Elvis warbled a little of his signature tune, "Can't Help Falling In Love With You", and tossed out the last of the scarves, and the next thing anyone knew, he was gone.

"Ladies and gentlemen," said the loudspeaker voice, "Elvis has left the building."

"But there's still time to buy some Elvis Super Souvenirs…"

Review courtesy of Todd Baptista.