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CONCERT DATE: July 25, 1976. Syracuse, NY.

Elvis Fans Pack War Memorial
by Joan E. Vadeboncouer
Syracuse Herald Journal
July 26, 1976

Bestowing kisses, shaking hands, passing out white and blue scarves by the dozens and singing as almost as well as he did in the early days of his career, the phenomenal Elvis Presley played to a capacity crowd at the War Memorial.

For one solid hour, the Southern-born singer turned the concert into a love feast. Yet, until the end, no one rushed onto the stage, leaving the security guards omnipresent in the wings with no duty to perform. Women, even a few males, were permitted down front for the ritual handshaking, kissing and tossing of scarves - some of the wisps of chiffon covered with the literal sweat of the Presley brow.

If his fans screamed, clapped, squealed and jumped up and down in controlled adulation, it annoyed the rock and roll star not one iota. Instead, Presley appeared to be enjoying himself hugely, joking with his retinue of performers as well as the audience. In turn, the latter laughed at his jokes and applauded their pleasure at his performance.

Pelvis passe?

Almost gone are the pelvic movements once branded so obscene that Ed Sullivan insisted Elvis' appearance on his show be shown only from the waist up. But there remains almost perpetual movement as he taps his foot, executes a split or does a little dance. And they still rate squeals from the loyal legions.

Presley talks a lot with the ease of someone in control of the situation and a rapport with his audience. His jokes are small, but always rewarded with big laughs. Sample: "Before we go any - further, I'd like to lay down for a few minutes." Or, upon receiving a miniature guitar, "It shrunk" or three red roses, "They're dying." Forsaken, too, is his guitar which is played for one number, then stowed away by one of his singers whose other chores include handing the singer water and is replaced by the scarves. The instrument the presence of a large orchestra, as well as 10 singers, all but two of whom are used as warmup acts in the opening half.

No disappointments

No Presley fan was disappointed by failure to reprise his hits ranging from "Hound Dog" to the sad saga of "Sally Anne" to "Jailhouse Rock" to "Let It Be" to "Funny How Time Slips Away" to "Can't Help Fallin' In Love with You." A few were omitted but not enough to cause a riot.

The singer noted the Bicentennial with a near operatic version of "America the Beautiful" into which he incorporated narration of the words. Another high moment of the concert came with the performance of his new record, "I'm Hurt."

Besides Sumner and the quartet, the concert kickoff boasted the Sweet Inspirations, a trio of black girl stagers, comedian Jackie Kahane and an orchestra from the Las Vegas Hilton. The latter resort received several plugs throughout the evening.

All were accorded fair receptions, but it was Elvis' night and no one was going to top him.

There is strain in the upper register. Yet otherwise, he sounds like the Presley of old. Following a fanfare worthy of Queen Elizabeth, the superstar strolled onstage and answered the question of "Where did the NBC peacock go?" The bird is adorning in gold, red, blue and green beads, the light blue vest and trousers of the singer. A white shirt with ruffles at the cuffs completed his stage attire.

Two large rings, a diamond cross pendant and a second necklace comprised his jewel wardrobe. His coal black hair was cut in a long Prince Valiant style. He is thinner than a year ago but still paunchy.

The difference in his outfit and those worn by J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet, a gospel group that sang in the initial portion, drew reproval from Presley for leader Sumner. "This outfit cost $2,500 and you come out in those Mickey Mouse outfits that cost $1.98," he chided.

The self-deprecating Presley humor turned on his name, saying his misunderstood someone to say "albatross" rather than "Elvis." And he expressed what seemed to be genuine, warm appreciation of the audience, concluding with "Anytime you want us back, just let us know."

One big family

Presley treats his fellow performers as part of the family even more than just his bantering exchanges with them. Introducing his backup men, he goes past the names and past letting them bask in brief solo; he sings along with them.

Only when it was clear that the evening was about to end did a couple of women manage to get onstage and buss the singer unabashedly. He accepted the attention smilingly with only a side glance to make certain the security force was on the move to extricate him.

Working his way back across the stage to where he had entered, Presley continued shaking hands, giving out scarves and then calmly strode into the wings, engulfed immediately by the security men. Within a minute, the announcer came over the loudspeaker, "Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has left the building." It was all over until tomorrow when the same scene, give or take some hysteria, will be repeated at the War Memorial.

Courtesy of Francesc Lopez