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CONCERT DATE: July 26, 1976. (8:30 pm) Rochester, NY.

King Elvis Holds Court
By Jack Garner
Rochester Democrat & Chronicle
July 27, 1976

So what hasn't been said about Elvis? You already know he's the one guy in the world who doesn't need his last name. The reason he doesn't need his last name is because he made his first name slick as the King of Rock 'n' Roll. And the King brought his court Rochester's Community War Memorial last night.

Nearly 10000 persons were on hand to greet Elvis in his first Rochester appearance ever. Most of that cheering, yelling, clapping, whistling, stomping throng apparently didn't mind working through millions of distractions to focus on Elvis. Amid the carnival hawking of every conceivable souvenir, the popping of enough flash cubes to move Kodak stock up 20 points, the constant running of fans jockeying for position, the waving of those darn scarves, and lots, lots more, Elvis Presley sang some rock 'n' roll last night.

The concert opened on time with the preliminary events - gospel songs by J.D. Sumner and the Stamps, soul music from the Sweet Inspirations, and some fairly good stand-up comedy from a man who does his homework enough to tell jokes of Rochester import - including two zingers aimed at Rep. Frank Horton. Then came a souvenir selling intermission. Finally came a call to the seats, the dimming of house lights, and the opening overture (the beginning of Also Sprach Zarathustra, no doubt Elvis' salute to his own humility).

The spotlights found Elvis coming in from the right, wearing an off-white outfit with a vest that looked like gold mall, and about 30 or 40 extra pounds that gave him more to swivel on his hips. The show followed the basic pattern of all Elvis shows since he returned from Hollywood to the concert stage seven years ago. He opened with C.C. Rider and moved quickly to the Ray Charles classic I Got a Woman. Both are fine, basic rockers and he gave them adequate, but not special, treatment. He then moved to the first scarf-dropping ballad of the night, his most famous of the early love pleas Love Me.

The alternating rockers and ballads continued through If You Love Me Let Me Know, You Gave Me a Mountain, a big three of All Shook Up, Teddy Bear and Don't Be Cruel, then another ballad. Next came two concert blockbusters - Jailhouse Rock the first perfect, gritty, rough-and-tumble production number of rock history, and Fever, a medium-tempo sex song that Elvis uses to show he still is "The Pelvis". For the Bicentennial, he then sang America the Beautiful, which was surprisingly quite powerful and well received (so much so that he repeated the last chorus). From "waves of grain" Elvis moved "down to Louisiana" for Polk Salad Annie.

Throughout the concert Presley strolled to and fro on the stage, occasionally tugging at his pants, drinking glasses of water, pointing at the audience, whipping wiping sweat from his face, striking various Elvis leg poses, and accepting various tossed flowers and gifts. Following "Polk Salad" a political straw hat hit the stage. Presley looked at it, saw a name on it, discarded it and said "I don't like peanuts or politics." He then spent about ten minutes introducing his back-up singers, horn section and basic band. The band, by the way, is among the best in the world and features the incomparable James Burton on lead guitar and the very tasty drumming of Ronnie Tutt.

The latter part of the show was mostly big-voice numbers like Love Letters, his current remake of Timi Yuro's Hurt, a few choruses of his early trademark Hound Dog, Willie Nelson's Funny How Time Slips Away and his traditional close Can't Help Falling in Love. Presley's voice appeared to be a little tired and thin in some of the earlier tunes but by the time he got to Hurt, which requires the singer to pull out all the stops, he was in fine form. His sensual baritone soared.

And then, 70 minutes after it began it was all over. Elvis waved to his fans and left the stage. A voice said over the PA "Elvis has left the building". The crowd emptied hurriedly from the War Memorial. So did a rather normal looking Chevrolet, which sped from the underground driveway onto Exchange Street. Some fans noticed the high white collar and long black hair in the back seat and screamed their goodbyes. The car was allowed to zoom through a red light and into the night, the other traffic had to stop. Elvis had the street to himself.

Courtesy of Scott Hayward