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CONCERT DATE: March 3 1974 (2:00 pm). Houston TX.

Elvis' Change In Image makes An Original Into Ordinary
By Jeff Millar
Houston Chronicle
March 4, 1974

Occupying the standing room only space next to me at the rodeo Sunday afternoon was one of those 33-year-old dumplin' darlin's (her husband's gotta love her 'cause there's a lotta girl to love) who was keeping a vigil for Elvis Presley.

She knew he was going to emerge from somewhere in the center field area of the Astrodome, and the lady was determined that not a single moment of Elvis on public exhibition at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo was going to escape her binoculars.

"He's going to come out back yonder," she said, the binocs so screwed into her eyes that those apple cheeks were all but bleeding, "See? Where all the m policemen is. I just KNOW he's gonna come from back yonder."

Meanwhile, the backup groups - Elvis uses three - had been towed into place aboard the portable bandstand. They waited in place as the chuckwagon races were run around them, which just about freaked the Sweet Inspirations.

After a pause during which policemen stood at parade rest around the perimeter of the area, Elvis appeared.

Aboard a Jeep, unimaginatively enough. What a dynamite opportunity for someone to descend from te gondola in a papier-mache golden chariot.

"Oh, golly," said the Elvis fan since '55 "it's hee-yim." The binocs looked as though they'd have stayed in her face even if she's removed her hands.

While the bandstand slowly turned 180 degrees (the cheap-seaters never got more than a profile), Elvis worked his little heart out for about 50 minutes (and again, I assume, at the Sunday evening performance). The act was less than dynamite. although I can't truly think of an act in show business that could play that joint and expect to do more than survive.

Whoever decides such things has thought it best that Elvis over the past couple of years change his image from basic grease rocker to Compleat Singer. Consequently, he does everything from Peggy Lee tunes to "sacred" music to Neil diamond. Barely 50 percent of the material used in his Dome act is associated with him. Except for "Hound Dog" and "Love Me Tender," the nostalgics could have done better with KILT's oldie-Elvis weekend.

Presley now does a Las Vegas headliner act. It's a good one, but, heaven knows, the Dome's not the place to stage it (less Presley's fault than the people who booked him here).

But you've seen lots of Las Vegas headliner acts just like it. It's odd to see an original making himself ordinary. The slicker Presley gets, the less interesting he is. If Presley could again sound as though he cuts records in someone's garage, he could blow right out of the water any single act in business. In his presence incarnation, done up in sparkle-plenty jump suits, he looks, and occasionally performs, like the Oldest Osmond.

Courtesy of Archie Bald