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CONCERT DATE: July 23, 1976. Louisville, KY.

Still Their King, Fans greet Elvis with moans and screams
by Kate Parry
July 24 1976

Freedom Hall was filled with all the anticipation of a starving man waiting for a ketchup bottle to finally blob its contents onto a sandwich. But last night the anticipation - an hour's worth - was for Elvis Presley. Although he's been called a blob and several other colorful variations on overweight he looked - believe it or not - as though he had shed a few pounds. He was even limber enough to bump and grind a few times. And the audience, which had waited fairly patiently through an hour of comedians, singers and rock bands, responded with moans and screams of ecstasy.

The audience itself seemed to be a family tree of Elvis fanatics. Those bouncy teenagers of the 1950 had matured (well, almost) into middle age women in polyester pastel pantsuits. From the looks of things the slight lull in Presley's career during the 1960s gave them just enough time to get married and raise kids. and those kids had become Elvis fans with all the gusto of a second generation immigrant saying the Pledge of Allegiance. It was in their blood.

The audience was dotted with mothers who still clung to the old ways - bouffant hairdos and those pointy-tipped glasses with rhinestone butterflies in the corners. They were trying to control themselves, smiling knowingly as their daughters bounced up and down waiting for "The King".

Poddlers of Elvis paraphernalia were making a killing. "Those gorgeous Elvis scarves, a tradition across America. Every lady should have one to wave at Elvis tonight," a voice on the loudspeaker exclaimed. It's easy to get a few bucks from mom and dad when they want the "Super giant Elvis button that sits on an easel" as much as the kids do.

The hour-long warm-up show gave the fans in the floor seats time to plat methods to get past the security guards to the stage and perhaps catch a scarf dappled with the King's sweat. "You can bet we're gonna get up there." a young woman said, explaining how easy it would be to jump from chair to chair. "This girl at another show brought a sign that said 'Kiss me or I'll die' and he brought her all the way up to the stage and kissed her. We were gonna make one but we didn't," another woman said.

Then the lights went down and the theme from "2001 A Space Odyssey" heralded what seasoned Elvis concertgoers know means the moment is almost there. Then he walked on stage. and that's when the bumping, grinding and swiveling began off-stage as security guards tried to keep young, agile Elvis fans away from the stage. The guards weren't too successful. The young fans mothers had trained them well. Some of those mothers had remained calm. They sat smiling, clapping their hands, remembering. But then Elvis paused, spread his feet, and stared. He knew what he was doing. There went 20 years of self-control as a middle-age woman jumped up and screamed, "Shake it Elvis"

Review courtesy of Hunter Goatley