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CONCERT DATE: October 17 1976 (8:30 pm). Minneapolis MN.

Elvis Shakes, Rafters Rattle, Money Rolls
by Michael Anthony
Minneapolis Tribune
October 18, 1976

Elvis Presley, "the Big One," as he has come to be called, shook those famous hips, handed out a few dozen scarves and sang for 72 minutes to a capacity crowd of 15800 screaming fans at Met Sports Center Sunday night. These days, a Presley concert is much ritual as anything else, and it begins as the crowd enters the auditorium. "Elvis Super Souvenirs" - posters, photo albums and buttons (big ones this year, the size of a pizza) - are aggressively hawked at various tables, and we're reminded of those souvenirs by the announcer throughout the show. (Col. Tom Parker, the mastermind behind Elvis's career all these years, knows about such things. Parker started out in the 1930s selling foot-long hot dogs at state fairs.)>

The show itself also has become ritualized. We expect, that is, the lights to dim just before a drum roll and the band's statement of Richard Strauss's arching theme from "Thus Spake Zarathustra." We expect the room to come ablaze from thousands of flash bulbs - to say nothing of the ear-piercing screams - as the Big One walks onstage. We expect - and it happens during the songs he's not too interested in - the scarf schtick, only now it's become rather machine-like. Trailed by a dutiful stagehand who loops scarves around the Presley neck, Elvis approaches the crowd and drops one of the scarves into s stretched-out hand near the stage. For one brief, shining moment that scarf was around the Big One's neck. With one scarf Elvis cleaned out his right ear before throwing it to the crowd. And three girls, standing on tiptoes, actually got a kiss.

There's also a "Let's Pretend" element to the show. Let's pretend that Elvis, dressed in a tight white jumpsuit extravagantly overlaid with rhinestones, won't really be 42 next Jan. 8, that he doesn't have a weight problem so serious he had to check into a hospital last year to drop about 30 pounds, and that his predominately female, mainly middle-aged audience is still teen-aged: chewing gum like mad, saying "Kid" in front of each sentence and hurrying home from school to catch "American Bandstand." For his part, and perhaps to amuse himself more than anything else, Elvis plays the role, but he exaggerates it in the same way that Mae West used to satirize by exaggerating female sexuality. He winks at, he teases the audience, and his pelvis swivels are now elaborate, amusing affairs accompanies by rim shots from the drummer. What else for a 41-year-old millionaire, so establishment these days that Richard Nixon made him an honorary narcotics officer, but to parody the Elvis of old, once the epitome of teen-age rebellion and outrageous sexuality?

Taken as is, however, this was a much more satisfying concert than Elvis's last performance here, in St. Paul two years ago. The format was the same: brief opening acts (J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet, comedian Jackie Kahane and the Sweet Inspirations) with the singers backing Elvis for his set in the second half. But the boredom that clearly afflicted him throughout much of the earlier show surfaced only occasionally this time around, and often Sunday we got a chance to hear him really sing, especially on newer tunes, such as his current heart-on-sleeve single Hurt. When he wants to use it, Elvis's baritone, with its resonant bottom and somewhat nasal top, is in as good shape as ever and, of course, as a performer on stage, singing or just fooling around, he has more charisma than a dozen other top performers combined. Will Elvis endure? Judging by the screams of the audience he's in no trouble. Nonetheless, his records are no longer guaranteed the top spot on the charts and, contrary to the old pattern, this particular concert took weeks to sell out. (However, in Duluth, where he performed the night before, the tickets went in three hours.) Here, it may have been the $12.50 price that kept some away.

Courtesy of Scott Hayward