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CONCERT DATE: December 28, 1976. Dallas, TX.

ELVIS: A Happening at Memorial Coliseum
Bob Porter
Dallas Times Herald
December 29, 1976

Call it an event, a happening, a carnival, a love fest. It is some and all of this when Elvis Presley ventures into town. It is almost least of all a musical concert.

If Presley's music was all there was to it, you would be better off in front of a good stereo set rather than jammed into a packed coliseum with a frenzied crowd of screeching fans grasping at scarves Elvis casually disposes of strolling along the edge of the stage singing "Hound Dog". You really can't hear that early-day hit too well for the squeals of delight from the lucky recipients or those of dismay from the girls who have missed so magical a treasure.

A Presley audience has grown to be almost as important if not as important as Presley himself, Like the one at Memorial Coliseum last night, an audience very much a part of the show itself, feeding off one answer, vibes shooting from one to next like electric currents cracking along a wire fence in a storm. Whether Elvis is the Elvis of old didn't seem to matter. He was Elvis the magician, Elvis the Pied Piper.

Elvis, make no mistake, is a phenomenon. No one else has gone 20 years perched at the peak. Alice Cooper and the vaudeville rockers may trail in the dust of Elvis' heels. He could probably even cause an alarming dip in the Nielsen rating playing opposite Charlie's Angels. Where superstars quickly burn themselves out, Elvis survives, spreading himself to new generations of fans. The audience ranges from the young of little kids, to the old of grandfatherly gray heads. He is a figure to adore or even make a bit of fun of - if you dare.

Presley himself seems at times to be poking a very large finger at the Elvis mystique twitching his body, emitting a weird sound , cracking a knee, playfully toying around with a song rather than giving it serious attention to trigger one of those squeals. His fans don't seem to mind this, another piece of evidence is more than music to a Presley show.

Presley's shows haven't really changed too much over the years. They are mainly a collection of his old record hits, going back to the earliest in the mid 50's. He makes a dramatic entrance to the strains of the theme to "2001" pouncing on "C.C. Rider" and grabbing his audience like the King of the jungle trapping his prey. Last night he did things like "Jailhouse Rock," "It's Now Or Never" "Blue Suede Shoes" (I remember that one, I had a pair. Wing tips. The coolest things on campus with yellow peg leg pants) "Poke Salad Annie," "Love Letters," "My Way" (reading the lyrics from a sheet of page of all things) winding up at the piano for a dramatic rendition of "Unchained Melody." At the risk of being a spoil sport, he was noticeably flat on that one at midpoint. No matter, there went the squeals again. It is difficult if impossible to deal with a Presley concert on simple musical grounds.

The Presley entrance is reserved until after intermission in traditional variety show manner. The audience warmup comes from the band, a gospel quartet, a comic and a trio of girl singers. They all good enough at what they do but the audience is there for one thing only, Elvis. Elvis edging into middle-age, admittedly, but losing none of that air of insouciance that must have much to do with his appeal. The voice when he put his mind to singing was sure and certain for the most part. He has always been better at ballads than in some of the vocal convolutions he gests twisted into on the up tunes. The band behind him was hard driving with perhaps drummer Ronnie Tutt, of Dallas, working harder than anyone on stage. The weight question remains something of a mystery high collar meting sideburns as it does, a belt of girdie proportions surrounding the midsection. The hips don't swivel as much as they once did. Elvis may have aged. To his fans he is not growing old. however.