Review of concert from 1983-06-07: with Attractions, Norwich, University Of East Anglia
NME, 1983-06-25, p43
- Chris Dawes

 

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ELVIS: rivetting on 'Shipbuilding'

Soap far so good

ELVIS COSTELLO/THE TIME/SCREEN 3/UNITY SERIES Norwich

ELVIS THE Imposter. Or should that read Rescuer?

It's called a 'Summer Hoofer' apparently: A four band festival supplemented with videos and a dose of peaches and cream. Yummy. Support your local boys: Screen 3 and Unity Series. Given a strong wind, they would have blown over. Both are capable of much more than these performances could offer and there was a gale threatening. Perhaps the major attraction to some could be Rick Buckler's new outfit.

What's The Time? You want it in a nutshell? A pub-rock shang-a-langa-chugga band. Let's boogie, baby. Few drummers maketh the group (that is not to undermine their importance - the drum machine is not the be-all) and the Time sounded like the million faceless bands continually featured on such gems as In Concert in the Seventies. More punters tried to stand to the side of the stage than at the front. It must have been very off-putting.

El had to give it the big one to stop many demanding change from the 5.75 which had been handed over for a ticket. 'Accidents Will Happen' was the beginning of the upturn. 'Oliver's Army', 'From Head To Toe', 'Watching The Detectives; 'A Man Out Of Time'; a great slice of singles, interspersed with renditions of others from old and favourite albums and a preview of some new tracks.

The highlight of the evening was, without doubt, a thumping version of the Costello/Langer composition 'Shipbuilding' popularised, although to not half the extent it should have been, by Robert Wyatt. The Attractions themselves hit hard and were backed on numerous songs by a platoon of brass-waving souls. Eyes front: Costello sweated and crooned, his voice almost falling to a croak once or twice. Strong like David, he led his band by the hand, his audience by the nose. And the ears, of course. And the throat.

Appreciation earned five numbers split into two encores ending with 'I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down'. A public admission; although being by no means a 'fan', it was all quite, quite admirable.

Pop music can be so lightweight. Perhaps the three supporting bands never really stood a chance but, luckily for the audience, there was still a hero to come through in the last two hours of the 'Summer Hoofer'. The victor? The man with spectacles and red socks. On a technical knock-out, I give you Elvis Costello. Back to David in the Sportsnight studio.

CHRIS DAWES