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Home > Newspaper Articles > 1977 > June 23 1977 (8:30 pm). Des Moines IA.
CONCERT DATE: June 23 1977 (8:30 pm). Des Moines IA.
D.M. fans shierk, swoon as Elvis croons his tunes
by Jim Healey
Des Moines Register
June 24, 1977
Say what you will about Elvis Presley - and many have of late - he is a consummate entertainer. Only a lout with no appreciation whatsoever for modern popular music could have escaped Presley's spell at Veteran's Memorial Auditorium here Thursday. It's safe to say none of the 11000 folks who filled every chair in the hall felt cheated by the show.
Whatever slump Presley was a year ago at the Hilton Coliseum in Ames has vanished. His spirit, his wit, and thankfully, his voice were intact. If anything, he was bigger than life. A slight slur remained in his voice, reminiscent of the near-tragic Ames show, but Presley's voice was slurred only when he spoke, never when he sang. The cause of the slur remains a mystery.
Presley was backed on stage by a 10 voice choir, a seven piece horn section (the Hot Hilton Horns from Las Vegas) , three guitarist, a bassist, two keyboard players, a drummer and a percussionist. But he stood out from the crowd. With spunk that recalled his heyday in the 50s, Presley crooned some heated oldies: Jailhouse Rock, You Ain't Nothin' But a Hound Dog, a medley of Teddy Bear and Don't Be Cruel.
The nostalgia pieces so inspired the crowd that all types of adult and middle-aged bodies rushed the stage from the far corners of the main floor, just like the kids used to do at rock shows (until promoters got smart and sandwiched audiences on the floor too close to move.)
One woman, who would only identify herself as a 27-year old Indiamola resident who is planning to move to California, actually jumped on stage. something unheard of at popular music performances for quite some time. She was immediately but as gently as possible, ejected by two stage hands. What would she have done had she been able to reach Presley? The question made her hysterical, but between sobs and giggles, it sounded as if she replied: "What would I have done...? I'd have grabbed anything and everything I could get a hold of!"
The shouting, leaping, squealing and now-famous scarf snatching were apparently spontaneous and authentic, as opposed to the Ames show, where Presley's management was reported to have purchased a block of tickets near the front for shrills who did most of the screaming. One woman handed the singer a poster-sized placard saying she had driven miles for a kiss. Presley leaned over and obliged, touching off an explosion of shrieks unheard of since the early Beatles phenomenon rocked the country.
Presley mixed in a number of his newer songs as well as standards such as Hurt which has been perhaps the best showcase for his still golden voice in recent appearances. The most notable difference between Thursday's show and the one last year at Ames (aside from his trimmer profile) was that here Presley seemed to be singing strongly and consistently throughout the performance. In Ames, he didn't hit 100 percent until close to the end, and it badly flawed the show.
The sound, mixed by long-time Presley soundman Bill Porter, was smooth and easy listening. It was full but not particularly loud. To achieve that in a auditorium is rare and is a mark of a true professional. Delightfully, the piano was audible throughout. Normally that instrument seems to take a back seat for some mysterious reason. The only possible complaint with the sound might be that super-guitarist James Burton was inaudible much of the time. (That criticism might, however, be the result of this reviewer's rabid bias for Burton's exceptionally clean playing.)
In fact, it was such a fine night of entertainment that the only ones who lost on the deal were the last minute ticket-scalpers. The market the day of the show was depressed and some were selling tickets for whatever they could get - often less than they had paid.
Courtesy of Scott Hayward