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CONCERT DATE: June 27 1974 (8:30 pm). Bloomington IN.

Elvis Rekindles That Old "Magic" at IU Concert
by Ric Manning
Bloomington Herald-Times
June 1974


The kids who were teenagers when Elvis Presley made his historic appearance on the Ed Sullivan show in 1956 came out en masse Thursday night to relive the magic that still held their imaginations 18 years later. But they were teenagers lo longer. They were almost all over the 30 mark, some into their forties and their babysitters were home listening to Doobie Brothers and David Bowie.

They arrived in their Cadillacs, Montereys, LTD's and Gran Torinos and the cars in the front rows had license plates from Columbus, Indianapolis, Kentucky, Ohio, Illinois and even Texas and Alabama. There were a few crew cuts and burrs, but no DA's. And instead of jeans, tee shirts and white socks, they wore summer suits, white pants and shoes, gaudy Hawaiian shirts, ties and wigs.

But though the hairlines were receding and the midriffs bulging, the magic was still there. They talked excitedly about Elvis and snapped up programs, glossy pictures, buttons, pendants and scarves and waited to see if the juices still flowed the way they once did. Elvis brought Las Vegas to Hoosierland with a 16-piece band and a three-act warm-up show. It opened with an insufferably insulting Vegas hack who came on stage to hype the souvenir trade, Elvis's albums and concerts and announce his next Vegas appearance. The souvenir picture album was in "living, loving color; Picasso-like splendor" and the cheap binoculars were "the last chance to see The King up close - only five dollars."

The first half of the evening was given over to a tepid Nashville trio, three accomplished black singers called the Sweet Inspirations and a comedian named Jackie who squeezed laughs out of limp one-liners: "The Poplar's Hotel is laid out like a golf course. Every room is a hole...trying to look sexy next to Elvis is like trying to look tall next to Wilt Chamberlain." It got better, but not by much. After an intermission to allow Vegas Man to hawk his goods a bit more, the lights finally went down and the band introduced Elvis with the Space Odyssey theme. He came onstage to a blitz of flash cubes, dressed in one of his standard white suits with the comical high collar and a racing stripe that swooped across his stomach and back and down his legs to his white boots.

He opened with C.C. Rider and moved through I'm All Shook Up, Love Me Tender, Hound Dog and Fever. He postured, puckered and pranced his way from one side of the stage to the other, talking easily with the crowd and pausing mid-song to flinch in the direction of one gallery of another and each gesture brought a chorus of honest-to-God screams. His scarves are important adjuncts to Elvis' act as a valet with a guitar draped them around Presley's neck in assembly line fashion and Elvis in turn tossed them to frenzied ladies in the front row, stopping long enough to make sure each absorbed a measure of perspiration. He tossed 16 of them in the course of the evening.

After two decades in the business, Presley's act is refined down to smooth professionalism. He is self-deprecating about his gyrations ("just trying to adjust my shorts") and he mimmicks the crowd's screams of "ELVIS." He is either insulting his audience or allowing them to simply have a good time - or perhaps a bit of both. Halfway through the set, he has already performed 11 songs, each lasting an average of 70 seconds. He mixes some of his hits like Teddy Bear, Steamroller and Big Boss Man with more updated fare like Let Me Be There and Bridge Over Troubled Waters.

On most he holds back, singing directly, smoothly and precisely, never letting his voice get into the ragged southern soul that turned the country upside down in 1954. But that reserve is probably why, after twenty years, he doesn't have a voice like Rod McKuen.

By 10.30 he was on the downhill run, packing seven songs and eight scarves into the last few minutes. At 10.45, Elvis wrapped up Can't Help Falling in Love, thanked the audience and departed. There was no call for an encore, the house lights were up and Vegas Man was back at the microphone making his shameless pitch. Though most of the Elvis fans had paid $10 for 67 minutes of music, many from seats of quality, few were in a mood to grumble. They had reclaimed a bit of their youth and after all, what else can really be called priceless?

Courtesy Of Scott Hayward