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CONCERT DATE: February 18, 1977 Columbia, SC.

Elvis Continues To Generate Professionalism
by Pat Berman
February 19, 1977
The Columbia Record

Elvis Presley returned to Columbia last night to an enthusiastic and often adoring sold-out Carolina Coliseum audience.

By now Presley is an accepted part of Americana. Reviewing a Presley performance touches on the absurd - better to critique mother's apple pie or the Grand Canyon.

Perhaps most ironically, the greatest positive response came from women in their middle and upward years - both products of bygone era when Presley was a more controversial and significant symbol of youthful rebellion and a more liberated life style.

The best news is that his voice is richer and huskier than ever. Presley continues to be a superb rhythm and blues singer. His timing, phrasing and sense of rhythm all generate a sense of supreme professionalism and visceral urgency.

When singing "Jailhouse rock," images of a tougher and skinnier Presley dominate the imagination - and these grittier gut-level songs continue to comprise the high points of his performances.

Presley's voice also possesses the sweetness to carry a ballad in a persuasive, involving manner.

Unfortunately however, Presley's hour and 15 minute performance had too many dull and self-conscious moments. Presley wastes much time in pointless patter with both members of his band and his audience.

He also seems too concerned with his near-mythic superstar status. Members of his group smile constantly and laugh over-zealously at Presley's attempts at humor or pointed stares. One member of the troupe even serves as a kind of lackey wreathing his boss in muti-colored silken scarves.

However, it is easy to overlook Presley's unromantic paunch and these dull, overly self-involved moments when he is performing at his peak. with more emphasis on the music and his genuine wealth of talent, the Presley concert would have been dynamite.

As is, it was a see-saw show of many up and down moments. Two opening acts were fine. The Sweet Inspirations had the Coliseum rocking with a blues-rock performance combining the best of The Supremes and Tina Turner.

J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet also energetically performed some fine gospel-rock numbers. Regrettably, 20 minutes of show time were wasted on the feeble and tasteless jokes of someone introduced as a comedian.

In short, Presley offered Columbia a highly entertaining musical evening that surpassed mere nostalgia. Indicating positive feelings toward the responsive Columbia audience, he remarked that he would be pleased to return in the future.

This is a positive and promising sign for the Columbia entertainment scene. Surely Presley would be welcomed back anytime. Hopefully, when and if he returns greater emphasis will fall on his immensely talented singing abilities and far less on the self-conscious, overly demeans an artist of Presley's deservedly lofty status.

Courtesy of Scott Hayward