(Review of the 1 May 1977 concert at the Chicago Stadium)

Elvis Presley inflicted two hours of Las Vegas and intermission pain on his Sunday night audience in the Stadium, then spent an hour licking the wounds.

The opening included some blaring horns, a gospel quartet plus one, a sexist comedian and a female singing trio. Two gospel basses demonstrated – literally – how low the show would go. With its yellow tuxes, black open-necked shirts, decorated denim jumpsuit and unmatched red pajamas, Act I definitely was tacky.

The audience, from grandmas and grandkids to lawyers and overaged greasers, remained remarkably polite. The announcement of a 25-minute break took many by surprise. They ended up sitting patiently through a 55-minute bummer, during which venders hawked expensive Presley souvenirs. “Where is he?” asked one peroxided, bouffanted fan. “I can’t stand the suspense.”

FINALLY, TO THE overwhelming rumble of the “2001” theme, The man stepped onstage. At 42, he has added a paunch and pounds but is still a phenomenon.

His outrageous white bell-bottoms were covered with baubles, bangles, beads, spangles and rhinestones. Diamond rings dripped from his fingers; medallions coated his chest.

He has changed from Elvis the Wet Look to Elvis the Dry Look. And from the looks of the flashing bulbs that greeted him every time he turned around, instant-camera stock must have zoomed.

As soon as he cranked up his opener, “C.C. Rider,” the love affair with the fans ran wild. He carried his mike from one end of the stage to the other, passing out scarves from around his neck. Occasionally, he squeezed a hand that reached above the others among the front-row groupies. One woman passed him a 4-foot panda, to which Elvis crooned a tune.

THE OLD ELVIS magic still works, even though his bulk has cut down on the famous bumps and grinds. But every now and then he still throws a wiggle. Girls screamed and women swooned as he sang “It’s Now or Never,” “Don’t Be Cruel” and “My Way.” They cheered when he did “Jailhouse Rock,” “Johnny B. Goode” and “What’d I Say.”

He spent about a quarter of the hour introducing his musicians and singers. Maybe the trouble with Elvis is that after 20-odd years, there are too may favourites for one concert. Unfortunately, he attempted too few of them.

High-paying patrons deserve more than 15 songs and half a dozen hints of oldies.

The whole works goes ‘round again at 8:30 p.m. Monday. Elvis probably is worth the wait, but be prepared.

Martha Groves, Chicago Daily News, Monday 2 May 1977