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CONCERT DATE: April 22, 1974 (8:30 pm). Detroit, MI. Olympia Stadium

Still a Heavy: Elvis Proves He's Bigger Than Ever
by Lawrence DeVine
Detroit Free News
April 24, 1977

Elvis Presley, who lately is more newsworthy for his waistline than for his "Hound Dog," Friday night satisfied a capacity Olympia audience that came to see if he literally is bigger than he's ever been.

The 42-year-old Mississippi monarch of rock and roll spans cultural and generation gaps like no other English-speaking entertainers except Frank Sinatra and Muhammad Ali. He spanned about 15,000 of them at Olympia, for a hotly receptive crowd that bought $15 top tickets to gaze on their idol, not too worry about his burgeonic poundage.

Certainly Presley is about 25 pounds over his best days, and a robust part of that surplus hangs over the front of his wide, gold studded belt. The additional heft at times seemed to affect Presley the way it does Metropolitan tenors and NFL linebackers: the more size, the more hard-hitting the results

Presley still coaxes the teenage birds out of their trees with his golden-old "Hound Dog," "Don't Be Cruel" and "Jailhouse Rock." But probably the most deleterious effect of his frequent concert tours is the sameness of his production, not of his tonsils.

Presley seemed down at times in his hour long half of the evening. His onstage production, which seven years ago was so stunning, in the brillance of his musicians and singers, and in the flash of its costume design, now is beginning to look stodgy because it is so predictable.

He still carries the same country virtuoso singers - J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet, and the three young black women of the Sweet Inspirations. As back-up singers, those eight are augmented by a top tenor and a trained soprano. The 10 are them banked over at stage left like so many expensive IBM computers.

STILL, THERE COMES the irresistibly hokey Strauss introduction, the roar of brass and drums in what is popularly known as the theme from "2001: A Space Odyssey." It is music that sounds as if the stone is being rolled back from the tomb. And out bounds Presley, up from between a double line of police and bodyguards.

The darkened arena lights up like noonday with the dazzle of countless instamatics. Presley is off and rocking with "C.C. Rider," grinding out of a couple of blam-blam pelvic thrusts, and the screaming holds for the next 60 minutes.

Preley's concerts have long been pinnacles of showmanship. He's up there in his familiar white gabardine jump suit with the stand-up collar and the gold aztec sunbursts encrusted front and back. His guitar boys are slouched around behind him. Presley's costumed pure whiteness contrating with their raven black get-ups of pure country menace.

Stadium vendors could not keep in stock posters of Elvis made from a full-length oil painting, suitable for framing and hanging in the home. That says something about the respect loyal followers have for the phenomenon who recorded "Heartbreak Hotel" a full 21 years ago.

Courtesy of Ron Theisen