Boston Globe, June 19, 1991

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Costello pumps up the emotions
for Holman Park's opener


Jim Sullivan

"I like opening up a joint, it's kinda cool," said the Replacements' Slim Dunlap, a few minutes before his band christened the 12-date series at the joint in question, Holman Park, a baseball stadium-cum- 16,000-capacity concert venue whose primary audience base is northeastern Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine. As openings went, this one, headlined by Elvis Costello and the Rude 5, went pretty smoothly, probably aided by there being only a shade over 4,000 folks in attendance, minimizing traffic and parking problems.

"I've never opened a facility this easily," said production manager Jon Rosbrook, after the show. Other pluses: pleasant weather, clear sound and a beautiful sunset, for which promoter Don Law said he paid a bit extra. Playing weatherman for a moment, Law also predicted an almost precipitation-free summer, allowing for just the occasional sprinkle. Minor negatives: a few mosquitos and some lines at the portable toilets.

As for the main attraction, Elvis Costello, well, he looked a little different — bearded, ponytailed, sun-glassed and chunkier, like Jerry Garcia's younger brother, quipped one backstage wag — but he was in fine voice and in a generous mood. He and his backing band, the Rude 5 — there were only four of them but last time on tour there were six; go figure — played a two-hour set, framing it with old favorites, "Accidents Will Happen" and "(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes" at the start and "Alison" and "Pump It Up" at the close, and devoting much of the set to energized versions of songs on his latest disc, Mighty Like a Rose. It's a difficult, somewhat dense record, but live there was more breathing space and power. Larry Knechter's keyboard work bordered on the majestic. Guitarist Marc Ribot once again proved his jack-of-all-trades value, and ex-Attraction Pete Thomas and bassist Jerry Scheff kept the rhythm intact. They could move from a whisper to a scream with ease.

Like Lou Reed, Costello has always written adult rock, always been able to give an old cliche a twist, as in "Home is anywhere you hang your head." The main changes over time are his growth as a vocalist and his increasing depth as a songwriter. Where he was once motivated, he said, by revenge and guilt, he'll now deal with a plethora of emotions and musical styles. He brought the show to a hush with "Couldn't Call It Unexpected" and Mose Allison's "Everybody's Crying But They Don't Know the Meaning of the Word." He brought both comedy and righteous rage to "God's Comic," as God blasted man for colorizing movies, buying Michael Bolton records and, oh yes, starting wars. Great line: "A frightened child leaves a hero / And everything means less than zero."

It was Costello's ability to make these musical and emotional sharp turns that made the show yet another of his successes. He found pain in "Deep Dark Truthful Mirror"; he turned wistful with "Veronica," bittersweet and deceptively breezy with "The Other Side of Summer," frighteningly obsessive with "So Like Candy"/"I Want You."

The Replacements' Paul Westerberg is no slouch when it comes to matching sharp words and music either, and that the 'Mats did in their opening set. It was weird to see 'em in the daylight — rock just doesn't work so well under the sun — but the band turned in a fine set, highlighted by "Merry Go Round," "Another Girl, Another Planet" and "Swinging Party." Unlike the time they opened up a summer shed tour for Tom Petty, they didn't wear dresses, didn't play sloppily and played many of their well-known songs.

Copyright Globe Newspaper Company 1991

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The Boston Globe, June 19, 1991


Jim Sullivan reviews Elvis Costello & The Rude 5 and opening act The Replacements, Tuesday, June 18, 1991, Holman Stadium, Nashua, NH.


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