Elvis Has 'Em All Shook Up

Philadelphia, PA. November 8th 1971

By Jonathan Takiff


A peculiar odor wafted through the Spectrum last night, the smell of perfume and hair spray. 

Flashes of the fifties, of the Eisenhower generation predominated in this sellout crowd of 16,601, a squealing, squirming, even occasionally sobbing bunch paying homage to their king of rock and roll. 

'Twas the night that Elvis came to town. Flashes of my own youth hit heavy too.This eleven year-old was too young to witness El's last Philly visit, back in 1957 at the Arena, but he was an omnipresent guest in my room then ... walls covered with color glossies of his cocky insolence, floor littered with his fan mags (" Who's Better - Elvis or Pat? "), had the phonograph continually blasting his latest golden smash. 

Photographer unknown Philadelphia,PA. Nov. 8th 1971

My parents wished him a passing fancy. We fans knew better then and still do. Elvis ignites with a show biz presence that's unextinguishable dynamite. 

Following a pleasant enough set from the Sweet Inspirations trio and an embarrassingly bad comedy routine from Jackie Kahane, the charge went off last night at 9:20PM, trumpeted in to the schmaltzy tune of Strauss' "Also Sprach Zarathustra " and a blinding light show of camera bulbs. 

Decked out in spangly white from up-turned collar to his boots, accented with silver buttons, black lined cape, black guitar and scarf, the raven-tressed (dyed, ya know) King made a spectacular appearance. 

Which was really nothing, compared to Elvis' hour-long performance, a 19-song marathon accompanied by 24 musicians, a mixed chorus of 8 and a hefty security force of 25. 

Opening with his first claim to fame, Arthur Crudup's " That's All Right, Mama ", Elvis seldom strayed from the winners circle. 

For memories we got " Love Me Tender ", " Heartbreak Hotel ", and " Love Me ", for change of pace Ray Charles' " I've Got A Woman ", " Lawdy Miss Clawdy ", Chuck Berry's " Johnny Be. Goode ", " Believe Me " and " You've Lost That Loving Feeling ", complete with Phil Spector's arrangement. 

Though a sure-footed belter on the uptempo ditties ( sharply accented by James Burton's guitar ), El's throaty style proved best suited, as always, to the ballad form. Only this gent would dare pull off a transition from the raucous " Hound Dog " to his sweet gospel number " How Great Thou Art ". And with an extraordinary gutsy rendering of " Bridge Over Troubled Waters ", Elvis put every other reading of this lovely song to near shame. 

Photographer unknown Philadelphia,PA. Nov. 8th 1971

The music is only half the show, however, when Elvis is on stage. Not quite the kootch dancer of old, he still ships the crowd to a fairthewell with a sly shake of the head, wide spread sexy stance, knowing wiggle of the knee or karate kick to the imaginary gullet. 

Perpetual motion, El stalks his prey with a killer's instinct, drawing blood from one section of the audience with the toss of a scarf, retreating to up stage security then attacking against another group of loyalists. Several ladies undergarments were tossed on stage as a tribute, though quickly snapped out of sight by stage security men. No sense getting obvious, hmmm? 

Cynics continue to credit the Elvis phenomenon to (ho, hum) this sensuality inherent in his physical presence, or the baser instincts provoked in listeners by his guttural moans, or the hip hypstering of manager Colonel Tom Parker. 

Talent is as talent does, 16,601 perpetual youth proved it against last night, loud and clear.

Although the photos used on that page aren't too good, we wanted to use them because there were from the actual concert. You can see better pictures of Elvis wearing this stage attire in the Jumpsuit Junkies section at : 1972-14

Originally published in the Philadelphia Enquirer