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CONCERT DATE: May 23, 1977. Providence, RI

Elvis Puts on a show at the Civic Center
by Tony Lioce
Journal Bulletin
May 24, 1977. Providence, RI

PROVIDENCE - There was a point last night, during Elvis concert at the Civic Center, when started to sing "My Way."

The first reaction was to bridle. After all, Elvis? Singing a Paul Anka song? That Frank Sinatra made famous? Elvis? Once THE symbol of youthful rebellion against all that is shallow and phony, singing the Las Vegas national anthem? Is this what happens to rock'n'roll rollers when they get to be 42?

But he was tremendous.
Sure those lyrics about "bitting it off and spitting it out" and stuff are so contrived as to be totally ridiculous., but Presley's performance saved them, hard as that may be to believe.

Singing as though he really meant what he was singing, really putting his heart into, he reminded us all that he really has done it his way. The former truck driver from Tupelo, Miss., who scandalized all the 40-year-olds with his hip-shaking and such, who posed such a threat to society as we knew it, is a star now, and a big one.

And he really hasn't changed all that much.
Oh sure, the show opened with a hour's worth of Vegas tripe. The opening tune of the evening was that horrendous disco version of "Beethoven's Fifth," all done up by a horn section right out of some supper club. And there was a comic making stupid jokes about marijuana and stuff, before Elvis emerged from backstage.

Even Elvis' set included a song by Bill Preston, the most tentious of current rock performers.

But there was plenty of more. Unlike last year, when Elvis came out and Tom Jones'd it up disgracefully, spending less time singing that he did throwing scarves to the audience and crooning his tunes more than really delivering them, Elvis was working last night.

Performing a well-balanced selection of really good country and r & b songs, he really got behind them and really put them across instead of setting back into a routine performance of his "greatest hits," he resurrected such classics as "Little Sister" and "I Got A Woman," and all the bite and drive of the original performances was right there, solid and raunchy as ever.

Even the Billy Preston tune wasn't all that bad, and who'd ever think you'd be able to say that about a Billy Preston tune?

The packed house loved every bit of Elvis' hour-long performance, and, by its very makeup, served to underscore the point that he hasn't turned into a parody of his former self.

There were plenty of people out there who used to be rebelious teeny-hoopers but, who wear leisure suits and work in offices now. But there were a lot of younger, diehard rock'n'rollers out there, too.

Before the show, many said they had come simply to take advantage of the man who started it all to "just to check it out" as one put it. But they were as moved, as stirred and as excited as their elders by the time the show was over.

Courtesy of Mark van Hout