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CONCERT DATE: May 12, 1974 (3:00 pm) Fresno, CA. Selland Arena.

On The Aisle: Elvis Presley
by David Hale
The Fresno Bee

THERE IS something strange and wonderful about witnessing Elvis Presley in concert, like stepping into a time machine. In terms of the audience and the performance, it is almost as if the revolution of the past 15 years in fashions and attitudes had never happened.

The thought occurred while seeing the man who contributed so much to the reshaping of pop music a generation ago, in his second annual concert Sunday in Selland Arena. And that may be the big reason for Presley's lasting success.

As a concert attraction among pop stars, only Bob Dylan can be compared: in the country and western field - in which Presley is also very large - perhaps only Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard.

And they are antitheses of Presley as entertainers with their plain and simple dress, their songs of compassion and pathos about social and moral wrongs and the working man. Presley stands apart, too, from the new balladeers, whose songs tend to be autobiographical and revealing.

PRESLEY, on the other hand, gives precious little of himself emotionally: At times Sunday night he treated the act so casually he could have been doing a walk-through. Little was there to give a clue to his identity or his attitudes.

What Presley has to sell is charisma and showmanship, and the show was further evidence that at that he is without equal.

The fullhouse crowd waited restlessly but respectfully through interminable pitches for souvenir scarves, posters and photo albums, 40 minutes of warmup acts the same as last year's - comic Jackie Kahane and a girl trio, The Sweet Inspirations, and an intermission before finally seeing The Man.

IN ITS middle-America appearance, the audience could almost have been from the era of "Don't Be Cruel " and "Hound Dog". Scarcely a lad with long hair or a black was in sight: there were a lot of people in their 30's and 40's, grandparent-types, and children. Very neatly dressed, very polite.

But enthusiastic Presley had merely to walk on stage - clad in a karate style white suit, tapered and belled. with blue piping and magnificent jeweled belt - and the audience roared its approval. A thousand flashbulbs illuminated the dark arena from all sides. He recoiled in mock fright to a crescendo of screams. The opening chords of each number were greeted with a chorus of squeals and more applause. And it goes without saying that at the end he received a standing ovation. And more.

A squadron of nine hard-hatted police and ushers ringed the stage to protect the idol from his fans. But by the time Presley closed with "The Wonder Of You," and added as afterthought that the huge bauble on his left hand was his Christmas gift to himself, even the armed forces couldn't hold back the masses.

BY THE hundreds, with teeny boppers and women old enough to be their mothers in the van, they stormed into the breach, betwixt seating and stage. Our hero expressed his appreciation for screamed "You're beautifuls!", touched a score of hands from the safety of the doubledecker stage, tossed down another souvenir scarf or two, and was gone.

Above everything else, the impression Presley left was of a man who simply enjoys performing. He puts himself and the audience on, with the bumps and the grinds, the karate stance, the guitarist-valet at the ready with glass of water, towel or fresh scarf.

Presley, born nearly 40 years ago in Tupelo, Miss., is a man with a sense of beginnings: He sang "Dixie," but he kidded that, too, changing "Dixieland" to Disneyland. He kids with the sex object image: He began an insinuating "Fever," but shattered the mood by adlibbing a falsetto mimic of a girl calling "Elvis!" from the balcony.

He is religious: Fans evidently revere him for that, too. At least three songs had the flavor, including a brand new one, "Help Me." And he made a point of showing us a large glittering crucifix.

Presley was in better shape, musically as well as physically, than we remember him from his first-ever show in Fresno. He made only a token gesture at playing the guitar on the opening "C.C. Rider".

But doubtless esthetic matters amounted to little, considering the bond the star has with fans young and old: "Mister," appealed a small redhaired boy, calling up to the emcee as the arena emptied: "Will Elvis come back again?". He looked reassured at the man's answer: "We hope so, son, we hope so."

Courtesy of Francesc Lopez