Billboard, September 1, 1984

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Elvis Costello & The Attractions
Nick Lowe & His Cowboy Outfit

Forest Hills Stadium, New York

Kathy Gillis

One could praise Elvis Costello for the length of his Aug. 18 show (two hours) or the amount of material covered (27 songs). But it wasn't so much the immensity of the program as the intelligence and creativity of the artist's careful reworking of his material that placed his presentation above the rest. Not a note could be predicted or a phrase taken for granted, from the slow, bluesy beginning of "Shabby Doll" to the lurching stop/start play of "Mystery Dance."

Coupled with Costello's masterful delivery, the Attractions amazingly tight support, taking in everything from carefully articulated, classically influenced lounge backdrops to almost haywire rock 'n' roll, expanded the newly-charged songs and pushed Costello's interpretations even further.

The keyboard work of Maurice Worm (a.k.a Steve Nieve) was sensational; his masterful touch on electric piano, his playfulness on organ and his decisiveness on synthesizer added insight while always complementing Costello. Drummer Pete Thomas and bassist Bruce Thomas followed suit, catching the cues of Costello's ever-creative phrasing to underscore his fresh intentions. Filling out the sound for almost half the numbers was saxophonist Gary Barnacle, whose spunky style embellished both old and new material.

The decision to perform "The Only Flame In Town" twice, first as a melancholy ballad, then in the upbeat swing of its current radio rendition, best illustrated Costello's approach Each performance shed light on his inspiration for the song — a sour-grapes consolation and a self-assured pop romp — yet each stood on its own as a complete creation.

Whether wearing his heart on his sleeve, as in the moving "I Wanna Be Loved" and the lone guitar version of "Peace In Our Time," or keeping his tongue in his cheek, as in "Greatest Thing" and the jab at MTV, "Worthless Thing," Costello laid his feelings on the line. That he performed up to the challenge he set before himself speaks volumes for his continually evolving talent.

Nick Lowe's opening set, for the most part an upbeat exercise in lighthearted rock, showcased his amusingly offhanded way with lyrics and hooks. Trading lead vocals with keyboardist Paul Carrack, whose version of "Tempted" was particularly attractive, Lowe ran through material from his current album as well as his catalog, including "Cracking Up" and "Raging Eyes.

Guitarist Martin Belmont and drummer Bobby Irwin contributed their chops with aplomb, emphasizing the slap-happy rhythm of "Half A Boy And Half A Man" and drawing out the long, yearning lines of Carrack's "How Long Has This Been Going On." Solid, but not too serious, the band played for 50 minutes to the appreciative crowd.

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Billboard, September 1, 1984

Kathy Gillis reviews Elvis Costello & The Attractions with Gary Barnacle and opening act Nick Lowe, Saturday, August 18, 1984, Forest Hills Stadium, New York.

Box office details for August 16, 1984, Radio City Music Hall, New York are featured in Boxscore.


1984-09-01 Billboard page 47 clipping 01.jpg

1984-09-01 Billboard cover.jpg 1984-09-01 Billboard page 47.jpg
Cover and page scan.

Boxscore clipping.
1984-09-01 Billboard page 47 clipping 02.jpg


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