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CONCERT DATE: May 1, 1977. Chicago, IL. Chicago Stadium

Snatches of old songs, a few new ones - that's Elvis
By Lynn Van Matre
Chicago Tribune
May 2, 1977

For someone apparently dedicated to the "less is more" philosophy when it comes to performances (not too mention personal tidbits), Elvis Presley has been showing up a lot lately in Chicago. Scarcely six months after his white boots stepped on stage at the Stadium last fall. Presley returned for one show Sunday night with another set for Monday.

"How come," I wondered aloud a couple of weeks ago to the shows promoter, "Elvis is coming back again so fast." "Both shows are sold-out, aren't they? came the reasonable enough answer - financially speaking, that is.

WHY ELVIS WAS returning figured. Why the shows are sold out is a little harder, to figure. Surely all who feel a curiosity about the man who did so much for the cause of rock 'n' roll 20 years ago have had their chance to see Elvis. and the people who were actually old enough to rock along with Elvis when it was all happening should. I would think, find the sight of him mildly depressing these days.

And yet, Elvis continues as some sort of musical national monument like Mount Rushmore or something of that ilk, except that mount Rushmore doesn't put on weight and these are no rumors going around that the faces that grace it have had recent face lifts. But as far as showmanship goes, Presley and the Rush are about on a par.

THERE IS NOTHING wrong with nostalgia, living legends can be fun. Seeing Presley last fall was fun. For those seeing him for the first time Sunday night at the Chicago Stadium, the chance to actually set eyes on the singer in the plentiful flesh no [...} as obese as that National Enquirer article would have you believe, but a good foundation garment wouldn't be a miss, was probably enough to make-up for the fact that Elvis really doesn't put on that great a show. For people seeing him for the second time in six months, or for this person at least, it was painfully impossible not to notice that elvis doesn't put on that great a show.

It was basically, if not almost exactly, a reprise of Presley's last show here - snatches of old songs, a few new ones, some mumbling, slews of scarves tossed to eager fans.

THERE WAS ONE hour of warmup acts, including a less than heavenly gospel group with one member who sang "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" in the manner of a frog, comic Jackie Culhane, telling his jokes about marijuana, "young folks," nagging women, and backseat drivers (also women) and the Sweet Inspirations, three female soul singers who were genuinely entertaining. Then came 50 minutes of intermission, followed by a scant one hour of Elvis.

Backed by a small band, horn section and chorus. Presley began with "C.C. Rider," continued with "I Got A Woman," and then swung into the "I got a scarf" bit. Much of the show, in fact is taken up with a member of Elvis' entourage, the man in charge of water and scarves, placing a piece of neckwear around Presley's neck.

Then Elvis tosses it in to the audience. While he does this he sings songs, or parts of songs - "Jailhouse Rock," "Teddy Bear." and other nostalgia. He also occasionally, attempts a mild hip movement or what could pass, I suppose. for a tiny pelvic tremor and kind of snickers a lot.

LIKE MICK JAGGER, Presley long ago turned into a sort of self-parody, though instead of exaggerating the movements that made him famous, Presley uses them infrequently. Perhaps he knows how silly they look, at least the way they are presented.

Occasionally, the vocal sparks were still there. Elvis would dig deep, and the timbre would ring true in his voice and the mind would turn back to how he once sounded on early records. But the thrill's been gone for quite a while now.

Basically, a Presley concert amounts to Elvis messing around onstage, the crowd gets to see and hear him and for many cause of the dreams they've brought with them, that's enough. Those without memories may find the performance less than memorable.