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CONCERT DATE: June 25, 1976. Buffalo, NY.

A Now Rotund Elvis Can Still Wow'em
by Jim Bisco
Buffalo Evening News
June 26, 1976

Elvis proceeded to plant his feet in the classic Elvis stance - a gesture comparable to Barrymore playing up The Great Profile - and began to gyrate in his classic pelvic dance. "Just tryin' to see if it all works," he says.

Well, "it" has been criticized lately for not working up to the classic Presley level. While it's true that middle age is beginning to engulf his waistline and voice, keeping him from shifting much past first gear, still, as the makeshift sign draped over one of the Aud's tiers proclaimed Friday bight: "Elvis - still the king after 20 years"

And 17,863 people, an Aud record, can't be wrong.

While the attendance spanned the very young to the senior citizen, the majority seemed to be composed of the 30s to early 40s range, and age that can either be sympathetic to the king's battle with advancing years or simply ignore the inevitable just as the king seems to be doing.

TO THE critical eye, the Presley gyrations appear dubiously sensuous and the ear winces a bit when an intended note suddenly becomes out of reach (such as in the melodramatic moan which leads off his latest single, "Hurt").

Tradition, however, doesn't stoop to acknowledge these mere details, realistic though they may be. The Presley cult is based on the singer being the founding father od rock and still its spokesman, although especially mellowed in form and style.

These are the people who became enamored with the image and the music right from the start two decades ago.

A surprising discovery by this reviewer at the concert was the worship lavished upon the king by his female fans. Almost to the point of a religious observance.

INDEED, THE combination of sex and religion was oddly riveting. Those gyrations mentioned earlier occurred during a two-song medley, Ray Charles' old blues number, "I Got A Woman" which then led strangely into an upbeat reworking of the traditional hymn, "Amen".

Also, as he was wriggling off sexual innuendoes, he would be supplied with powder blue scarves which he would repeatedly drape around his neck, wipe his brow briefly then toss the item to a sea of flailing, reaching arms clustered near the stage.

It all seemed oddly ritualistic.

The king, attired in a neat powder blue and white leisure outfit with gold-spangled embroidery, appeared to be in a loose, buoyant mood as he sang hits by Olivia Newton-John, Willie Nelson, Frankie Lane and Don McLean besides various medleys of his own hits from a rousing "Jailhouse Rock" to "Al Shook Up." a tender "Don't Be Cruel" to the finale "Can't Help Falling In Love."

Assisting ably were J. D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet and the Sweet Inspirations trio, well remembered as an integral part of the backup to Aretha Franklin's big hits in the 60s. Both groups performed on their own for the first half of the show along with funny, low pressure comic Jack Culhane.

THE BAND was led by Buffalo native Joe Guercio. Included in the group were veteran studio musicians David Briggs on clavinet and general keyboards and James Burton on lead guitar whose face used to beam from the background behind Ricky Nelson as he accompanied the singer at the end of all of those Nelson family TV episodes.

Courtesy of Francesc Lopez