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9 December 1976, Las Vegas Hilton

20 Jan 2011

9 DECEMBER 1976, LAS VEGAS HILTON

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Everyone shelled out $29 or a ticket weeks ago amounting to a complete sellout through Dec. 12 to see Elvis Presley in the Hilton showroom.

Some receive choice ringside seats, others many tiers away and the rest in the balcony. Which is called democracy in action, Las Vegas style. Seating seems not to matter - to cheering, adoring groupies there is enchantment in distance as well as kissing proximity. Down front seats of the banquet table arrangement are the ones where the ladies, young and otherwise, congregate in gaggles for the innumerable scarf and kiss rites, the scarves handed out or snatched from their aging icon, with some exchanges of gifts for his silken mementos. Six bodyguards are always present.

Presley, trimmed down somewhat seems to have enough energy to get through his nightly ordeal. After fooling around in the beginning, mumbling and trips to his guy Friday, Charlie Hodge, for glass after glass of water, he lets out his pipes for some familiar belting. The current aim of much of his vocalizing is for hotdogging effects, using repeated gimmickery such as J.D. Sumner's basso glisses into pulsating distortion and rattling of the sound system's woofers, a visceral wallop and nothing else.

There is indulgence in a maudlin spoken treatment of a schmaltzy piece called "Softly," with tenor Shirl Nielson singing. Another new entry is his latest single "Hurt," which he yells with little or no subtlety. Otherwise, when not goofing off, making inane remarks and cruising along the apron for his imperial obeisances, Presley lends quite a lot of his time onstage shouting his w.k. pop incantations.

Jackie Kahane turns in his normally workmanlike job of joke warmups. He has a tough job preceding Presley and knows it, but manages to overcome inattention for a plethora of yocks. Kahane is also used as the "extender," when the master goofs his opening walkon cue. There have been instances in this particular Hilton date of stage waits from 10 to 30 mins. where Kahane cannot fill with chatter and the Joe Guercia Orch has to jam, or as the old phrase goes, "vamp 'til ready."

Sweet Inspirations (3) mix up their vocalog with disco beats, a ballad and win cheers for closing "Sweet Inspiration." Sumner and his Quartet open with gospel tunes after the Guercio Orch's treatment of "A Fifth of Beethoven," featuring James Moody's fine tenor solo, which is about the only example of any artistic peak throughout the entire two hours and a half.

Variety, December 1976

N.B. The picture above is not from the actual Las Vegas Concert


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