Elvis Gives Audience Glimpse Of Old Power

Richmond Coliseum - Richmond, Virginia - June 29, 1976

By Barbara Green

They went to see him bearing gifts, the women mostly in their 30s, and the lucky ones were able to give them to him - flowers, hats, hand-lettered signs, hand-stitched pillows with the titles of his hit songs on them. 

He accepted them with cocky good humor, putting on a hat and strutting about to show it off, draping a necklace of orange and gold flowers over his shoulders. 

Keith Alverson Richmond,VA. June 29, 1976

In return, the really lucky givers received a kiss on the cheek or a billowy scarf, damp with the sweat from his brow. (He distributed five kisses and 47 scarves.) 

It was the ritual of paying homage to a king or perhaps buying favor from a god.  

Elvis Presley was back in town. Elvis of the drooping eyelids and swiveling hips. Elvis of the hit songs too numerous to list. Elvis, who has retained his place at the top of the entertainment mountain for 15 years, while his private life has had its ups and downs. 

Elvis packed the Coliseum last night with some 11,900 persons - 11,000 of whom seemed to be squealing women. In return for their adoration, his fans were treated to a so- so show with a handful of really good segments and one or two glimpses of the power the Star used to have - and might still have it he hadn't become a victim of his own legend. 

Some flashes of the old brilliance came through on "C.C. Rider", "I Got A Woman", "Hurt" and "Love Me" (a 10-scarf song). Elvis growled and wailed and put some effort into his performance on those numbers. 

He also offered up a dramatic, emotional "Love Letters " and a spoken-sung rendition of "America The Beautiful" that deeply moving. 

The rest of the time, he seemed more concerned with form and posturing than substance. He interrupted songs to joke his audience, tossed them more scarves, deliberately fluffed lyrics. 

Keith Alverson Richmond,VA. June 29, 1976

The occasional twitch of head or hip had the effect turning up the volume of the squeals. Elvis had the good grin sheepishly when that happened. 

Once or twice, one got the feeling that he would like to try, to have his audience make some demands on him, to challenge him to perform. That gave way to the certainty they would love him no matter what, so why bother? 

One also got the creeping feeling that this au wasn't actually seeing the 41-year-old, stout man with the slow, sometimes sluggish movements who was on stage. 

They were seeing, instead, the Elvis of 10 or 15 ago - the sleek, sassy, sexy Elvis who could knock his expressive voice and the sheer force of his personality; the man who captured a whole generation and turned it around, temporarily, with a new kind of music called rock and roll. 

He has grown up now, and his fans, who have grown up with him, are older, too. The difference between them is, he seems to know hes not as young as he used to be, while his fans are loath to admit it.

 Originally published in the Richmond News Leader