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CONCERT DATE: June 24, 1977. Madison, WI.

Elvis Wasn't The Same
by Randy Lenz
Wisconsin State Journal
June 28, 1977

For me, covering the Elvis Presley concert at the Dane County Coliseum Friday night, carried bittersweet feelings.

I had seen Elvis in concert once before - in 1972 at the Milwaukee Arena - and as any 17-year-old boy I was at once duly impressed and horrified at the glamour and "show biz" atmosphere of Elvis' touring Las Vegas act.

Why was I horrified? Probably for the same reason I was impressed. For the first time in my life I was seeing on stage the same Elvis I had grown up with - through his movies and records. Elvis to me was the cheeky punk in ' 'Kid Galahad" {my favorite of all his movies) and the suave swinger in "Viva Las Vegas." He was the swivel-hipped rocker who belted out "Hound Dog" (which ties as my favorite with "Heartbreak Hotel") or "Jailhouse Rock."

And yet seeing Elvis in his sequined jumpsuit, amidst all that Las Vegas splendor somehow deadened that image of the rebellious Elvis, the loner who would always have a kind word for a friend and then turn around and pinch the establishment in the keister.

Behind the scenes

Elvis didn't put a whole lot of effort into that first concert I saw, nor did he put much into the Coliseum concert. Instead, he paid his dues, turning this way and that to oblige photographers, mumbled through a number of songs and left.

It hurt to see Elvis perform. Throughout the concert I had wished that he was playing games with us all, that sooner or later he would whip off the phony looking "Vegas" clothes, pull out the pillow that made his stomach protrude, and tear into "Hound Dog" the way he does on my record. But he didn't, and then he left.

And while it was painful to see only the remnants of the King, it was also understandable. For, just like we all must sooner or later, Elvis is competing against the one thing even he can't croon away - age. At 42, Elvis has been singing and entertaining audiences for 22 years, since his waist-up debut on the Ed Sullivan TV Show.

But regardless of where he plays or sings, his fans squeeze out of the woodwork and, as any good fan should,refuse to acknowledge that he has changed one bit over the last two decades.

The people who come to see Elvis today are unique in the field of rock music. Most are family-oriented, the kind of people you would expect to see at a picnic at your Uncle Roy's. And yet, they are a tribute to Elvis. For it is his talent and style that have spanned two decades and generated fans of every age.

The older women on both sides of me at the Coliseum Friday night complained about the loudness of the speakers unaware that by today's standards a concert is not good unless your ears are blown into senselessness.

And a man about 50 spotted a friend about the same age and yelled to him. When the man saw who was yelling he hid his face in mock shame. Yet both applauded loudly and clapped for Elvis.

Many of the women looked as though they had spent all day in the beauty parlor and were dressed to the teeth. It wasn't long before I realized that they weren't out to impress their boyfriends or husbands; rather each was secretly hoping that Elvis would see her and cast her an admiring glance. Such is the lasting charisma and charm of Elvis Presley.

And yet, for me, it is hard to accept. I can only accept Elvis as he was. I'm not old enough to accept him as a member of the "older generation." To me Elvis will always be dressed in black and sneering - and he'll never be older than he looks in his . movies.

Someday my kids will be watching an old Elvis movie on the late show, and I'll turn and say, "I saw Elvis in concert twice when I was younger." And when they ask how he was and what he looked like, I'll point to the screen and say, "That's what Elvis looked like and that's the way he's always looked."

Courtesy of Mr. Archie Bald