Cooper Point Journal, February 16, 1978

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Cooper Point Journal

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Elvis Costello and The Attractions
live at the Paramount Northwest

Mark H. Smith

After I'd waited in line for three hours it was nice to get inside. But after another hour's wait inside, the band that opened the show was enough to send me home.

The opening act, Rubicon, epitomized everything that is wrong with the music industry. Long, styled hair, calculated cliches for facial expressions, silk shirts tied at the waist, rolls of fat silk sailor pants with socks stuffed into the crotches, platform shoes, and I won't go into detail about the sequined vests and suspenders, they were there.

Rubicon played a very trite and stylized form of disco-rock. It's not all that surprising, as they are all rejects from Sly and the Family Stone and Three Dog Night. (You remember "Joy to the World.") The music they played was tasteless and the macho image they projected repulsive. I eventually had to walk out on them for fear of embarrassing myself by puking on the people in front of me, I have never before been to a concert and seen the lobby packed with people but there they were, leaving the show like proverbial rats off a ship.

The audience responded by booing and shouting insults between songs. The band countered with such gems as "You're the ones who paid," and ended saying, "We still love you." Nonsense. How could they love a sold-out concert audience that practically shouts them off the stage? Well, they were from San Francisco.

After seeing seven incompetents jump around in funny looking pants it was real nice to see Elvis and his band, looking comparatively normal, take the stage.

The bassist looks like that strange cousin from Cleveland every family has, and the keyboard player, who is the bassist's brother, looks a bit more like a psychopathic strange-cousin-from-Cleveland. Elvis looks like Elvis. The drummer is the only one who doesn't look strange. In fact he looks normal.

The band starts with a pulsating drum background while Elvis stares out over the crowd, motionless. Soon he starts singing "Mystery Dance" and the band rocks out. This guy is really something: he stares out over the audience in a trance, his hand wildly flogging the strings of his guitar. Then with affected calm he starts singing. The band acts as an extension of his body. They know his every move. Elvis is standing by his amp, feedback screams at the end of "I Don't Want To Go To Chelsea," (one of his best and unrecorded songs) and as the band breaks into the reggae-flavored "Watching the Detectives," Elvis is still feeding back. The band plays reggae and Elvis plays a Ted Nugent song. Finally he comes back and sits on the floor singing a very frightening song. His sense of dramatic timing makes a not-so-scary song about trying to get a woman's attention while she keeps watching a detective show on T.V. scary.

Of all the songs Elvis did in his one hour set he only played four numbers off the album. Two of the songs, "Less than Zero" and "Night Rally," denounce the National Front, a racist-fascist movement that is on the upswing in England. Most of the music I have heard that delivers a political message falls short. But Costello is only subjective about politics, as he is about everything else, and can blast away with cryptic, yet diabolical lines like "They're putting your name in the forbidden book," and "Everything means less than zero."

Elvis blasts television for turning people into unfeeling slobs. And in "Radio, Radio" he takes a shot at AM radio because they "anesthetize the way you feel." He has said that AM radio and the music-making machine have "stifled creativity for the last decade."

Costello has the same problem George McGovern had in '72: he tells the truth, whether we want to hear it or not.

Elvis and the Attractions rock with conviction. The crowd was going wild during most of his set, and when he left the stage the audience screamed for about ten minutes. During this time the house lights came on, the stage lights came on, the curtains were raised, the microphones taken down, and music blared over the P.A. Suddenly Elvis and his band stormed back onto the stage, "Just wanted to see who our friends were." And the band went into a longish version of "Miracle Man," which drove me to jumping up and down on my seat along with maybe five hundred other people.

Elvis was in his element, no coloured lights, just a bare stage, except for the angry stagehands who were obviously not pleased when Elvis recaptured it. It was one of the most incredible things I have seen. The crowd kept screaming for more until the drums were finally taken down and packed up.

Elvis Costello and the Attractions is easily the tightest, most powerful, and heart-wrenching band around. They have been called the future of rock and roll, and, yeah, I can see it.

Tags: Paramount TheatreSeattleThe AttractionsRubiconSteve NieveBruce ThomasPete ThomasMystery Dance(I Don't Want To Go To) ChelseaWatching The DetectivesLess Than ZeroNight RallyRadio, RadioMiracle Man


Cooper Point Journal, February 16, 1978

Mark H. Smith reviews Elvis Costello & The Attractions and opening act Rubicon, Friday, February 10, 1978, Paramount Theatre, Seattle.


1978-02-16 Cooper Point Journal page 06 clipping 01.jpg
Photo by Chris Gabrin.

Page scan.
1978-02-16 Cooper Point Journal page 06.jpg


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