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CONCERT DATE: April 27, 1975 Lakeland, FL.

Fans Know: Elvis is still Elvis
by Dean Johnson
Sentinel Star
April 29, 1975

Oh, Elvis!
When that black hair has turned to gray and become more part than parcel ... when that rather soft looking body has turned to bouncing jello ...even when the shows are as dulls as a 28-watt bulb ... they'll still jam up to scream "Oh Elvis!" They'll still (as they did Sunday at the Lakeland Civic Center) let Elvis give them the business. They'll buy his buttons ($1), tapes ($5), the scarves and pennants with his picture on them and rip out ($4) for the opera glasses his people sell "to see Elvis up real close"

WARTS AND all - all being the well publicized weight (around 220 pounds of it) the 40-year-old King now carries around. The result of a twisted colon condition that put Elvis into the hospital back around his birthday in January, the excess baggage sometimes makes it look like that man on the stage is doing a parody of himself - or like it's really Rich Little somehow made up to look like "our one and only"

Dressed in a rather drab blue suit with patches of spangles strung here and there. Elvis could have belched in different keys and the masses (8,000 fans at Sunday's second show) would have moaned and cried and squealed in appreciation.

THE POUTY look is gone, but he still wears his coat collar turned up and he still thrusts the pelvis image - although with the extra weight, the effect sometimes hovers around the gross side of sexy.

The fans didn't care. They squirmed in their red seats and the nervier ones stormed the stage (ringed by security men and Elvis' personal bodyguard) to get one of the more than a dozen scarves Elvis handed out during his little-more-than-an-hour performance. A few of them would go home with lips that would be unwashed for the rest of their lives. "They sure do learn fast nowdays," Elvis said after planting a sedate smacker on a chicklet who couldn't have been more than 10

ELVIS' SHOW was Las Vegas glossy - more of a variety show than a rock concert. The first half (about an hour) was all support acts. Voice: a trio of men in powder blue jumsuits, did two members in which the only recognizable lyric was "remember".

There was a comedian named Jackie who did several minutes of borderline funnies 'til he hit with a bunch of gags about the weird things we do.'

There were The Sweet Inspirations, the Supremes-type group that has been traveling with Elvis five years. They were terrific - rich-voiced and right up on the pops with numbers like "Lady Marmalade" and "Philadelphia Freedom"

ALL OF the first half singers plus J.D. sumner and The Stamps Quartet (Sumner is "low downs" gospel bass who was born in Lakeland) backed Elvis in his slice of the show. That, with the band and the King's own satisfying voice made every number hit. "Hound Dog" to "Burning Love".

When the evening was over at 10:45 the emcee announced "Elvis has left the building". Even if they knew, the civic center staff wasn't saying where Elvis was staying. Media manager Ted Whittaker said he believed Presley stayed in the Lakeland area between Sunday's 2:30 and 8:30 p.m. shows.

Whittaker said there had been no problems with either of the shows Sunday. The crowds (youngish, well-behaved and, perhaps would only grumble when they had to face the post-show traffic. Lakeland has still not provided adequate access from Interstate 4 to the downtown civic center and in fact, there are no directional signs from I-4 to the three building complex.

Elvis also performed at 8:30 pm Monday.

Courtesy of Kurt Hinkle