Elvis excites two Arena audiences
There was no penetrating Elvis Presley´s security web around the Seattle Center Arena yesterday, where he had shows at 3 and 8 p.m., both sold out weeks ago. You had to have a green Elvis button and a white Elvis I.D. card to get backstage, press credentials wouldn´t do. And no arguing with the plainclothes Presley security men and uniformed Seattle police guarding every doorway. Security was tight.
"Elvis has death threats wherever he performs," a young man standing nearby said. "They have to be cautious.
But I got to see Elvis during intermission at the first show. I had my picture taken with him. I was with him for about four minutes."
Jim Borda, 23, Mercer Island, collects Presley memora-bilia and he showed up at the first show wearing Elvis buttons and carrying copies of Elvis´ earliest recordings, 1954 releases from the Sun label in Memphis.
"One of the guys in the band saw me and got Col. Parker (Presley´s manager) and he took me to see Elvis. "This is only going to be an in-out thing," Col. Parker told me before we went into the dressing room. He said we wouldn´t be staying long. But Elvis talked to me a while after they took the picture.
"He said he wished he could go out on the street for a walk on such a nice day but that he´d get mobbed. Says he gets tired of going from hotel to concert without seeing anything.
"He held up one of the records I brought and said to some band members, "Hey, look, boys, my first label," and everybody laughed.
"I wanted to try to see him again after the show but right after he finished the announcer came out and said, "Elvis has left the building. Please leave quietly." I guess he went right out the back door to his limousine and drove off."
Borda wasn´t the only Elvis freak in the house. There were a number of people wearing buttons and Elvis jewelry and such, hucksters were all around the hall, including in front of the stage, selling picture books and posters for $2 each and doing brisk business. Everybody seemed to have flash cameras and used them throughout the performance and I would guess over 50 per cent went home with some kind of souvenir.
What an interesting audience! Some looked like they were out of a ´50s time warp: lots of crewcuts, ducktails and ponytails, as if the ´60s had never been. On the other hand, I have not seen many beehive hairdos since last Miss America pageant. And there were lots of hippies, blacks, old ladies and prosperous - looking businessmen and their wives. An all-American grouping to be sure.
But about the show. "It´s the best show you´ll ever see," Borda said and for its genre, it probably was. Elvis is a polished entertainer with a performance that is relaxed and unpretentious.
In front of a worshipful audience that would scream at his slightest movement, he wasn´t the least bit cocky nor vain. He seemed amused by the more frantic fans and their yelling and screaming. Several times he wiped the sweat off his face and threw the scarf into the crowd, enjoying the ensuing fray.
"I love you," a middle-aged matron sitting to the left of the stage yelled. "I love you, too, honey," Elvis drawled out of the side of his mouth.
The King (as he is called) was on stage almost exactly an hour, coming out at 9:10 p.m. in a white elaborately rhinestone-embroidered jump suit with a high collar, open at the neck, and began the show with "C. C. Rider," strumming his familiar black guitar on the first few tunes and backed by a full orchestra and chorus.
After the first three songs he had a few words to say about how he liked Seattle, "Did my last concert here before going into the service and made the movie "It Happened at the World´s Fair" here." he said little else during the show.
By my count he did 25 songs in the second show, including medleys, that ranged from his earliest hits - "Hound Dog," "Blue Suede Shoes," "Heartbreak Hotel," etc - to new tunes by James Taylor and Kris Kristofferson and material from his movies. He did all kinds of music but seemed to favor ballads, including a very soulful version of a moving song called "I´m Leaving."
There was one patriotism number, a medley of "Dixie," "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "Hush Little Baby" that brought spontaneous applause, but mostly it was just the best of Elvis.
His band, led by a super guitarist named James Verdon, the large orchestra and chorus were all splendid and, like the light and sound crews, never missed a cue. The show was totally professional.
"There´s no message in this show," Elvis said just before the last number, "just entertainment."
Then he began "Fools Rush in" and Col. Tom Parker, the Pygmalion who took a Memphis truckdriver and made him the world´s most popular entertainer, left his seat smack in front of the stage (where he sat throughout the show, wearing frumpy clothes and askew yachting cap, looking like the former carny barker he is) and headed backstage. When Elvis finished the song, he rushed off the stage.
The announcer waited during the applause for a few minutes then went up to the microphone and said, "Elvis has left the building. Please leave quietly."
Copyright: Seattle Times, April 30, 1973
Above: On April 29, 1973 Elvis arrived at Seattle Airport in the Hughes Airwest McDonnel Douglas DC-9-31, registration N9334, which was rented from Hugh Heffner.
Below: Elvis signs autographs for fans at the airport.
Above left and middle: With fans before the afternoon show. Above right: backstage prior to 8 p.m. show.
Below: 3 p.m. show, all photos copyright by Judy Palmer.
Below: 8 p.m. show, all photos copyright by Judy Palmer.