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CONCERT DATE: October 14, 1976. Chicago, IL.

Surprise! Elvis Still Fits Into His Fancy Suit.
By Jack Hafferkamp
Chicago Daily News

Rest easy, ladies, Elvis is not as fat as you feared.

The king of rock 'n' roll returned to Chicago Stadium Thursday night, and revealed to the sell-out crowd that he still can fit into his patented high-collar, flare-leg, glitter-ecrusted suits and look OK. His girdle seemed to hamper him only when he bent down to kiss an adoring woman fan.

Before he came to town, the gossip columnists had it that ol' El had turned into a 41 years old butterball. But he fooled us. Unfortunately that was about the only surprise in his show.

Still, an Elvis Presley concert is an experience: partly musical, partly nostalgic, partly carny hucksterism and pure money.

For instance, my seat (which I felt lucky to get) was at the opposite end of the hall from the stage. It costs $12.50. But ticket prices were only half the battle.

BEFORE THEY COULD get to their seats, the 20,000 excited fans had to run an incredible gantlet. Everywhere you looked, there was somebody selling "Super Elvis Souvenirs"

There were: $3 programs ("souvenir folio, concert edition, vol. 6"), $3 photo posters, $2 and $3 Elvis buttons, $5 portrait posters ("looks like an oil painting"), Elvis T-shirts, Elvis binoculars, and my own favorite item, $3 Elvis button with a mirror on the other aide ("All the ladies will want to have one in their purses")

Yet if the pitch was hardly soft sell, it didn't faze the faithful who came to watch the former truck driver from Tupelo, Miss. wiggle his hips. The crowd was solid middle-America. Virtually all white, it included young children and grandparents. And they were excited. You could feel it in the air.

The show never quite matched the anticipation. It started with this 14 (I think) member band. Then came a gospel quartet to sing four numbers. Then there was a comedian who said clever things such as "We've got enough people here to hold our own political convention. We'll nominate Elvis for President..." Then came the trio of black women singers, The Sweet Inspirations, including a long Stevie Wonder medley ("Stevie who? said a woman behind me?)

EACH TIME ONE OF those acis was about to bounce onstage, the crowd was certain it would be Elvis. When it wasn't, there was a quick but audible groan. After the Inspirations, the audience was positive "Elvis" was next. But instead, there was an intermission. And a exhortation to pick up a few "Elvis Super Souvenirs"

Finally, the band started into the King's intro music. Yes, Elvis still comes out to the "Theme from 2001" (Struss' Zarathustra)

Suddenly, there he was. Elvis Aron Presley. So many flash cubes exploded that the hall seemed to be flooded by strobe lights. Grown women screamed just as loudly as they had 20 years ago. Elvis grinned, planted his right leg, balanced on his left toe, and plunged into "C.C. Rider."

For the next hour and 20 minutes or so he sang a great variety of songs, some new (including his current single "Hurt", which he did twice) some old ("Hound Dog"), some slow ("Fever"), and some fast ("Jailhouse Rock"). Predictably, every time he swiveled his hips, there were squeals of ecstasy.

DURING THE EARLY part of his performance, it was difficult to hear Elvis above the band. As the sound cleared up, though, it was clear that he remains in fine voice. No matter what else one says about him, there's no doubt Mr. Presley can sing a song.

Unhappily, however Elvis has never quite figured out what to do with himself between numbers. His solution is to throw scarves to the crowd - and that's fine for the first few. But Thursday night Elvis must have thrown more than 50 scarves. There's a character onstage whose major function is to put fresh scarves around The King's neck every few seconds. It looked pretty silly.

All in all, my feeling about the show is similar to that of the lady who said to her friend: "This is nothing compared to Elvis in Vegas. The acoustics are so bad you can't hear anything they sing. And I was so excited I even wore my black bra. Now i don't know why..."

Courtesy of Scott