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CONCERT DATE: April 21 1976 (8:30 pm). Kansas City MO.

Elvis Fallout
by Jess Ritter
Kansas City Times
April 22, 1976

I am one of those 18,000 souls who saw Elvis Presley at Kemper Arena Wednesday night and I still carry vivid impressions of the show. There had been so much in the way of weird rumor the last two years. Elvis was badly overweight, he had checked into several clinics for unnamed ailments; he was inexplicably giving away expensive cars on impulse, which a certain East Coast shrink solemnly announced was a form of free-floating guilt about his wealth and ill-fated marriage. From some of the patched-together recordings of the last year, we also suspected that Elvis had lost his voice, especially after the dull, stodgy television spectacular he broadcast from Hawaii.

From the moment he strode onstage last night, though, he proved clearly that, at age 41, he is still one of the most charismatic entertainers in America. Elvis worked hard in his stint, which lasted well over an hour. The punk hip gyrations of the past are gone and all his movements are carefully choreographed, but they are vividly real - and insinuating. In his ice-blue shirt, white singlet and tight white pants encircled at the waist with a massive rhinestone belt, Elvis dominated the stage without trying too hard. He is a big man, with big shoulders. He is portly above the waist; the hips and legs are still slim.

Elvis Presley learned to sing by taking on the blues he heard in Memphis and southern Tennessee. I remember a night off at graduate school when I caught a truck driver named Presley, in 1956 singing the blues in a rundown nightclub in West Helena, Ark. Our party agreed the kid would make it as a blues singer, if nothing else. At Kemper Elvis sang the blues. They tried to make him a travesty of himself in schlock Hollywood films. He has survived that. He has also survived a lot of mindless adulation that destroys many of the gods and goddesses of movieland.

It was an evening of top entertainment. So far Elvis Presley has defied the Fates that strike down so many pop culture heroes and heroines. Perhaps that's what he meant when he sang in one of my favorite songs (Return to Sender): "Return to sender, address unknown, no such number, no such zone."

Courtesy of Scott Hayward