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CONCERT DATE: June 24 1977 (8:30 pm). Madison WI.

Paunchy Presley Still Dazzles Fans
by Randy Lenz
Wisconsin State Journal
June 25, 1977

Alas, we lament, for once more the King of Rock And Roll has come and gone. Elvis Presley, who appeared in Madison for the first time last Oct.19, returned to the Dane County Coliseum Friday night and performed before a crowd of more than 10000.

What differences were there between the two shows? For one, Elvis is now 42 instead of 41, but that seemed to matter little to the middle-aged crowd who shrieked and applauded with every wiggle the King made. And while the last show sold out six hours after tickets went on sale, the coliseum had a few tickets for sale at concert time Friday. One reason might have been the prices. The Oct.19 tickets cost between $7.50 and $12.50, while Friday's tickets sold for between $10 and $15.

But ticket prizes were the last thing on the minds of those at the Coliseum Friday night. They apprehensively laughed at warmup comedian Jack Kahane and politely applauded a trio of women singers called the Sweet Inspirations. But everyone was waiting and the tension continued to build until the lights dimmed and the spotlight hit center stage - and out strutted the King of Rock And Roll. The ensuing roar was deafening. Thousands of flashbulbs exploded, making Elvis' shadow appear 10 times bigger than life on the back wall of the coliseum.

Elvis, dressed in a white jumpsuit with gold sequins on his legs and arms, grabbed the mike and launched into CC Rider. "What do you wanna hear", Elvis asked when he was finished. He cringed when a grandmotherly woman jumping by the stage screamed Old Shep. "Old Shep", Elvis replied, twisting his face into that familiar leer. "I haven't sung that since I was 8 years old." Instead, Elvis continued with Treat Me Like a Fool.

Before he finished, a little more than hour after he came on stage, he sang many of his older hits like Hound Dog, Love Me Tender and Jailhouse Rock. And after One Night with You it was easy to hear that Elvis' voice still is as strong and capable as anyone could expect. Yet somewhere during the concert everyone had to

notice that Elvis is no longer the same snarling kid who, when he made his television debut on Ed Sullivan, was televised only from the waist up. Elvis probably would have loved to have been seen only from the waist up. He was so overweight that not even his eight-inch belt buckle could hide it.

Throughout many of his numbers he mumbled so badly that any other performer would have been booed. And yet it's hard to be critical of the man because the crowd seemed to love just seeing and being near Elvis.

In Wisconsin State Journal library we have a 1960 photo of Elvis waving to German photographers before he returned to the States after his stint in the army. In the photo Elvis is tall, thin and ducktailed and flashing that famous leering smile. I think it would be safe to say that that was the Elvis most of those at the Coliseum saw Friday night. They weren't watching a chubby middle-aged man. Instead, nearly all were seeing that taunting sneer, the flashing smile - the image of Elvis that no person and no review ever will destroy.

Elvis still has more magnetism than any other 42 year old man in the world. Anyone who doesn't think so should talk to any of the nine policemen who vainly tried to stop the herds of women who galloped to the stage every time Elvis tangled one of his sweat-stained scarves. For me, being exactly half of Elvis' age, it was startling to see women who were old enough to be my mother going beserk over a 42-year old rock star.

And yet, it was believable. For every generation has its heroes and idols and every generation thinks theirs are the best. Those who have grown up and older with Elvis were at the Coliseum Friday night, thanking their hero for everything he has given them. And while Elvis is far from his peak, maybe it's all right if he listens to the applause and adulation - and takes something back from his fans. So long live the King. His reign is over. But that is no reason for us not to remember him fondly.

Courtesy of Scott Hayward