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CONCERT DATE: June 1 1976 (8:30 pm). Tucson AZ.

The Fire Starts a Little Slower
by Larry Fleischman
Tucson Daily Citizen
June 2, 1976

There is in Elvis Presley the communication of cultures, the embodiment of total musical expression. Sure, he is 41 and, despite the peacock suit and a snatch of Thus Sprake Zarathustra, he is looking it. But, as he aptly demonstrated in last night's concert before a packed arena, he can rattle his roll with the best of them.

This is not only a question of form, or of vendors hawking "Elvis Super Souvenirs;" this is a question of sheer musical communion with the 1950s, and all that the decade infers. It has been said that youngsters today have not heard of the Beatles, but they have heard their music; and the reverse is said to be true of Presley. But even a die-hard Liverpudlian aficianado like myself must admit that Presley is as hot as ever. Even if the fire is, today, 20-odd years later, a little slower getting started.

Last night's show began with an hour of an almost confusing array of different types of performers. There was a gospel group, and a soul group, and a comedian. But it was all merely a prelude, a way of building the tension.

When Presley strode onstage the Arena was transformed into a strobe, the flashbulbs popping in every direction. He began with See See Rider, simmering with the famous Presley heat. Like all great rock 'n' roll songs, it was a tune you could dance to. And it was the beginning of an excellent show. Much of Presley's act is consumed by throwing scarves to the coiffeured ladies of the audience. But, from a musical point of view, the true experience is rock 'n' roll. It is these songs, All Shook Up, Don't Be Cruel, Hounddog, Jailhouse Rock and Poke Sally Annie that created Woodstock and 50000 people jamming baseball stadiums to listen to a group called the Beatles.

Since Elvis began, rock music has formed the expression for millions of lives. It is what the children of today grow up listening to, and what their parents listened to. What an irony it is that hose who marveled at Hounddog in 1954 find it so difficult to understand their children equally in love with Band on the Run. It is the cyclical nature of things, expressed in life and in music.

If there is any criticism to be made of the performance, it is that it was somewhat slow-moving at times. A great deal of time was spent in introducing the band, and doing other things to give Presley a breather. But despite the occasional lag, Elvis' delivery of such tunes as Fever was masterful, with the quality of his voice as it was the first time he sang that song, so many years ago.

I must admit that I went to the concert fearing it would an exercise in remembering we're all getting older; but after watching the Pelv deliver, after recalling that far ago, far (perhaps) more innocent time, I discovered the true reason that people of all ages yearn for the very basic, very melodic musical ethos of the past; it's the best thing around. It is rock music you can take your kids to. And that is probably the ultimate statement about rock 'n' roll.

Courtesy of Scott Hayward