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Home > Newspaper Articles > 1970 > November 11, 1970, Portland, OR.
CONCERT DATE: November 11, 1970, Portland, OR.
Old Elvis Come Through To Delight Of Devotees
by John Wenderborn
November 12, 1970
Any questions aimed at establishing the existence of one Elvis Presley, a former musician-entertainer, will have to be relayed to the young man in white who ruled the stage at Memorial Coliseum Wednesday night and performed a rather poor imitation of the man some claim is an art form all by himself.
Elvis, a man of 34 now, showed an occasional flash of the old genius that made him the great white father of the rock 'n' roll (a title that should be contested by Chuck Berry, the great black father of same) but most of his concert was nothing more that a put-on or rip-off, to be a little more contemporary.
Elvis worked hard, there's no doubt about that. Unfortunately, the work he did could have been done by any clown in P.T. Barnum's entourage and the $10 price tag of the tickets proved the value of another of Barnum's wise ad-ages, you know, the one about lollipops and timepieces.
To be sure, Mr. Presley can still do those leg splits and can still crouch in his tight show-suit. He can even sing and well - when he wants to. A hymn, "How Great Thou Art" was done nicely and he actually sang most of the slower tepoed pieces all the way through with some semblance of feeling for the music.
Elvis Works Hard
And when he broke into those Elvis anthems, such as "Blue Suede Shoes," "Hound Dog," the old fire caught on for an instant and the screaming girls got their licks in - even if many of those screaminers were now mothers and matrons. Except Elvis never did finish one of the type of song many of those in the audience came to hear, raucous, blues with the driving beat and flashing electric guitar giving Presley the solid background he once thrived on.
Every tune was a lush production that sounded like the previous one. Elvis started out - laughing and being a general fool while splashing musicians and audience with Gatorade - every song. On the second chorus the Sweet Temptations (four girls) and Imperials (four boys) elevated the decibels and on the third chorus the young lady charged with singing four octaves above high C joined in for an ear-shattering conclusion. All this while an otherwise fine stage band crescendoed out of sight.
Even though each tune received this treatment, the natural beauty of Simon and Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" was there and "Suspicious Mind" received a creditable treatment.
Presley, of course, is a legend in his own time, to quote somebody's line about some hero of the Wild West, but he's trying to rewrite it; he did Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" and it was the best tune of the night. It was done in the old Presley style. It was fast and incorporated the fabulous backup quintet before falling back on the regimental band and choir and the sound system.
Elvis gained respect a decade ago because he worked hard, both on his vocals and his guitar. He gave up the guitar early and relied on a horde of musicians to get his sound across.
In 1970 Elvis Presley still works up a sweat onstage but many of his movements are unnecessary, he directs the band with arm jerks, he runs around the stage like a long haired Pagliacci eager to keep the stage crew happy but yearning to get back to the introverted security that hasn't been shattered by the outside word in years.
The first half of the show included the gospelish Imperials who gave away to the Sweet Temptations, backed up by a four-piece rock group that got the girls into a nicely-done groove on "Freedom". The bass man in the group was excellent and although the girls sounded most like the Supremes of old they were well-disciplined and talented.
Some 12,000 Elvis fans came to see the master; it's doubtful many went away disappointed though. Even a tarnished legend can be brightened up in time.
Courtesy of Francesc Lopez