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CONCERT DATE: April 24, 1976 San Diego, CA.

Elvis ... The Legend Still Enthralls
by Robert P. Laurence
The San Diego Union
April 26, 1976

Evaluating Elvis Presley as a performer today is like trying to evaluate the Mississippi as a river. It's muddy, polluted and much abused, but still a helluva river. Elvis has grown a second chin, his dark hair gleams unmaturally, his joints have stiffened slightly, but when he winds into a song, look out.

Before a joyous crowd of 13,000 at the Sports Arena Saturday night (contrary to expectations the show was not a sell-out), the 41-year-old former King of Rock 'n' Roll, threw himself into several songs with enthralling results. That famous left leg moved of its own accord to the rhythm, his right arm exhorted the band and backup singers to every greater efforts and his own inimitably throaty voice thundered powerfully.

But Elvis was surrounded by more than a band, 10 singers, several extra pounds, and a belted beaded baby blue suit. Heralded by the majestic "Theme from 2001," he arrived onstage wrapped in two decades of legend and adulation. He cheerfully expected the women in the place to go gaga, and they obliged, setting off the first of several flashbulb lightning storms and stampeding toward the stage.

How well he sang seemed of secondary importance. All that really mattered was that ELVIS!! was in the room. He accepted their love, plus their flowers, leis and beaded necklaces, with the graceful, air of a monarch accepting tribute from the pleasants.

It wasn't so much a performance by an entertainer as an appearance by a sovereign. As a sovereign might toss out coins. Elvis handed out scarves. Coasting through a medley of old hits: "All Shook Up," "Teddy Bear," "Don't Be Cruel" - he took a scarf from an assistant, trapped it over the back of his neck for an instant, then tossed into the field of upraised hands; like a bride throwing a bouquet. Again and again he did it. He must go through a trunkful of scarves at every show.

Those songs were thrown away as casually as the scarves, however. He did work some spirit into his opener, "C.C. Rider," and "I Got A Woman" from his first album, but the spirituals and a few newer songs truly captivated him.

"You Gave Me A Mountain" and "How Great Thou Art" found him committed body and soul, and he fairly tore apart "Hurt," his newest single, waiting through the opening, crooning tenderly through the middle passages and murmuring a romantic rap. No scarves during these.

But "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" proved too tender a flower for the wind generated by all those singers and the elephantine band. The Diamonds' "Little Darlin'" was good fun, and he wound up with "It's Now Or Never" and "Can't Help Falling In Love"

The Elvis legend and magnetic stage personality would have fared even better with some improvements in the production. It must be noted. His sound system was fuzzy and distorted, and often the band and singer only got in his way. It would be good to hear him accompanied only by the classic rock arrangement of three guitars and drum.

The first half of the show (Elvis emerged after intermission) was comprised of a gospel quartet , a comedian and The Sweet Inspirations all of whom passed the time agreeably.

Courtesy of Francesc Lopez