Cal State Northridge Daily Sundial, May 4, 1984

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Costello gives well-rounded solo performance without Attractions

Brian Eisleben

Elvis Costello solidified his reputation as a pop music craftsman Tuesday at the Universal Amphitheatre, performing a solo acoustic show that embraced all facets of popular music.

Playing a single instrument, usually an acoustic guitar, Costello demonstrated just how far he has come both creatively and as a performer since his first appearance in town in 1977.

Long gone is the angry young man. He has been replaced by a man whose humor is quick and easy, and who has learned to accept his audience. He has finally learned to play for the audience instead of ignoring them, and he seems more relaxed in his role of entertainer.

Opening with "Accidents Will Happen," Costello appeared dwarfed on stage before an array of his seven extra guitars, a piano and electric keyboards.

But the immensity of his talent and the purity of his effort helped eliminate the distance between singer and audience. He may have been playing in a large hall, but the sparseness of the stage focused the attention on Costello. and his effort to sing and play well won over the rock 'n' roll audience.

He did several of his own compositions, including "Girls Talk," "Everyday I Write the Book," and "Riot Act." He veered away from his most famous songs, possibly leaving them for a rocking show with his backing band the Attractions.

The lack of a band behind him led to the one fault of the concert, With no band to keep the show rocking, the focus was always on Costello and his songs. His selection of songs often dwelled on country or pop, leading to a repetitive sound that tended to occasionally drag on monotonously.

But the bulk of the show was top notch. He told jokes, talked easily, and did everything in his power to give the audience a good show that did not compromise his talent. The high point of the show was the first encore, He came back out and did a Bob Dylan tune (I Threw It All Away"), "Red Shoes," an oldie ("Yes It Is,") and "Mystery Dance."

Twice he was joined by other artists. John Hiatt joined Costello on acoustic guitar for one of his own compositions, and show opener T-Bone Burnett joined him for three songs.

Costello also sang several songs off his soon-to-appear new album. These songs hid different styles, but all were characterized by his clever word play and biting irony. Among the titles were "The Whole Truth," "Worthless Thing" {the television set}, and "Peace In Our Time," whose line "There's already one spaceman in the White House/ What do you want another one for?" drew one of the evening's biggest laughs.

It would have been nice to have the Attractions on hand to drive home the power of his words, but Elvis Costello minus a stage show is still a good value for the entertainment dollar. A well-rounded evening of swap entertainment from an enormous talent.


The Daily Sundial, May 4, 1984

Brian Eisleben reviews Elvis Costello, solo, and with guests John Hiatt and T Bone Burnett, Tuesday, May 1, 1984, Universal Amphitheatre, Universal City, CA.


1984-05-04 Cal State Northridge Daily Sundial page E5 clipping 01.jpg

1984-05-04 Cal State Northridge Daily Sundial page E5.jpg
Page scan.


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