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CONCERT DATE: March 10 1974 (8:30 pm). Roanoke VA.

10000 Fans Pack Center to See Elvis
by Margie Fisher & Pat Matheny
Roanoke World-News
March 1974

Funny, how time slips away. For 10640 fans who had waited two and half hours to see him live - and many who had waited 14 years - 55 minutes of Elvis was not nearly enough. A silver-haired man, who had carried four sets of binoculars into the Roanoke Civic Center for the women folk he had escorted, turned to them and asked with long-suffering patience, "Was it worth it?" after Elvis abruptly departed the stage and his announcer appeared to advise: "Elvis has left the building. He has left the building. He's done split."

The women folk with the silver-haired man just sat there with happy smiles on their faces. They stared at where their idol had been, belting out the oldies but goodies, frequently playing to the edge of the stage to touch fingertips with the upreached female hands, to do the scarf trick that has become a major part of the superstar's act. The five females, including one little girl who got one of the blue or white scarves, obviously felt they'd gotten their money's worth.

Another woman who made a nimble lunge and got up on the stage far enough to nearly touch his toes before she was pulled off by police no doubt felt she'd gotten hers. And one woman on the front row could go home and boast to her friends that she had given Elvis a lei. Elvis reached down and took the red lei, the type that's given out to customers at a local Polynesian restaurant, and put it on and wore it through a couple of numbers after asking, "Does it go with the outfit?"

The scarves, sans sweat from the superstar's brow, were being hawked before, after and during the show's intermission as "super souvenirs" for $7.50 a piece along with $1, $2 or $3 buttons, photo albums and poster-size pictures of Elvis with "Picasso-like splendor." One woman, considering the scarves on the souvenir tables in the lobby at intermission time said, "I want one all right, but I want one from around his neck." After intermission Elvis was introduced merely as "the second part" of the show and as he came on he was greeted with the explosion of hundreds of flash cameras and the squeals and applause of the record-attendance audience in the civic center. Commented one woman: "I'll just die if I have to go to the restroom. I paid $12.50 to see him once - then had to go in the middle of it."

He plunged right into C.C. Rider, went through a half a dozen old favorites like Blue Suede Shoes and some new numbers like Help Me before closing with Can't Help Falling in Love with You and whisking away with the throbbing coliseum still begging for more.

The soprano chorus that squealed throughout the Elvis performance was clearly predominant with yesterday's teen-agers. They were the girls who'd fallen in love with Elvis on the movie screen in the 1950s and on the smaller screen of the Ed Sullivan show. There were far more pantsuits and lacquered hairdos than blue jeans and gypsy cuts; among the men in the audience there were more bald heads and gray heads than ones with long hair.

If was definitely a middle-age, middle-class crowd in business suits and ties and an occasional mink coat pulled out of the closet in honor of what clearly was an "occasion." Thought Elvis has picked up a following of all ages, what he apparently has not picked up since the 50s is the kind of "soul" that draws black fans. The only black faces visible with binoculars from the top of the coliseum were the ones he brought with him, the Sweet Inspirations, songstresses who killed time for the audience before the intermission and then warbled back-up for the star.

Possibly the highlight for many of the show was Elvis' low key Dixie which glided into a resounding, stylistic Battle Hymn of the Republic with the spot light picking up the American flag at the top of the coliseum above the stage. For others, the best part was the old Elvis the Pelvis gyrations, bumps and grinds to his sizzling Fever and Suspicious Minds with red lighting playing off his white suit, glittering with gold. I Can't Stop Loving You prompted a number of middle-aged matrons along with the gals in their 20s to make a try for the stage. A nervous platoon of 16 policemen, 24 security guards and 40 civic center staff members stood at the ready and no doubt, what with the enthusiasm of the women, went home last night hoping their next assignment might be a nice, quiet riot.

Courtesy Of Scott Hayward