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

The Hips Don't Twist Now, But It's Still Elvis
by Chuck Graham
Tucson Daily Citizen
June 2, 1976

The best time to watch an institution is while it is being built, not while it is being preserved. The excitement, the thrill of seeing an entertainer continue to acquire stage power lies in the suspense of wondering if his unique style and material will work as well on the audience of tomorrow as it did on last night's audience.

Once everyone knows the material always works, the roles of performer and performee become somewhat automatic. Of course it is enjoyable to watch an old pro woo an eager audience, but that's not to say it is exciting.

Last night the Elvis Presley worship service started around 7 p.m. when the congregation began gathering at the doors of the Community Center Arena. They weren't there to listen, they weren't there to be critical. They were there to adulate.

Slowly but steadily they filed in, maintained a quiet, respectful demeanor, filled the Arena to capacity and sat patently, waiting for the service to begin. Conspicuous by its absence was Elvis's highly touted new youth following.

Most of the thousands there were in their late 20s or beyond, tidily groomed and sweetly smelling.

Throughout the show there was nary a trace of tinted cigarette smoke in the air. In fact, there was little comparison between last night's gathering and the typical rock crowd.

It should come as a definite source of comfort to many of the over-50 population to know that those who were denounced as hopelessly degenerate more than 20 years ago because they were Elvis Presley fans have apparently grown up to be extremely stable, gainfully employed middle class folks.

"I've waited 22 years for this night, sure glad I left the kids at home," said one prim and youthful matron. Not that it mattered much, but Elvis's act had little in common with a typical rock concert, either. His material came straight from the Las Vegas show rooms that have been his personal money machine for years. It was a dramatic statement on what time has done to the man virtually all music historians agree brought rock and roll into being as a national movement.

Fortunately for everyone else paddling the same chronological boat the last couple of decades, Elvis is growing older, too. Those stories of late about the sleepy-eyed singer's weight problems are all too true. Elvis looks portly these days, and he doesn't move around on stage much.

He gets a little out of breath now and then, too. But the famous Presley charm and sex appeal is proving to be as inextinguishable as the Olympic flame. The slightest flap of his knees (those hips don't twist anymore) inspired waves of high pitched squeals from the young girls clustered in the first several rows of seats, followed by flurries of feminine rushes toward the stage.

There were probably less than a hundred of these rhapsodizing women, but they were a very determined lot. In fact, the night's excitement was measured out in direct proportion to the numbers of these young ladies who jumped from their seats to the edge of the stage, waving and begging for one of the dozens of scarves Presley threw into the audience throughout the evening.

For the chosen few, invariably pretty and in the prime of life, Presley knelt down and proferred a cousinly kiss. It was all very warm and friendly Nothing obscene by today's waning standards. And during all this spontaneous enthusiasm, only one undergarment ever sailed from the crowd toward Elvis and his entourage of ten singers and stage band plus two additional guitar players and an extra keyboard artist.

The whole scene was very peaceful, really. Meaningful for those who finally got to see the entertainer they had idolized since he had set them free of their childhood, at least in spirit. And of historical interest for younger fans who had been wondering what the original King of Rock and Roll looks like these days.

Courtesy of Archie Bald