It's a shame Elvis Costello draws such a big crowd.
Elvis is not quite used to an American audience. He opened crooning "Shot With His Own Gun" in pitch darkness, when suddenly blood-red light flooded the stage and his keyboard player, while six white rays beamed on his solemn face and open arms. Very dramatic. Then he looked at the calm crowd and noticed they weren't all standing and shouting like his fans do in England. His first words to us were,"Now that you are all comfortable, I shall begin." And so Elvis mocked his unknowing audience. That quote is the opening line to a famous kiddy show back in the British Isles.
This was the first show I ever saw at the Tower where people stood through an entire performance. Yet, over Elvis's voice I kept hearing, "Sit the f--- down!" During his rendition of "Allison," the audience jeering the audience was louder than a couple stanzas of the song. Tasteless. We finally appreciated his presence when he was about to leave and we demanded a third encore, even after the house lights were switched on.
Elvis would be better off having a number of short shows in a place the size of Emerald City. He was not meant to play a place as large as the Tower Theatre. Imagine the pressure the man alone must feel. Even if only the most reverent fans got to see him in a small place, he might look forward to returning soon. When it comes down to the finances, WKDU DJ Cathy Cummings put it best: "When I first heard about Elvis being at the Tower, I thought, 'Then, why not the Spectrum?' I knew he could have sold it out." The theater was packed for two shows.
What I especially enjoyed were Elvis and the Attractions' lesser-known songs from their very newest album, because he did not give the impression of going through the motions to please a simple audience. Also, besides hyping the crowd with "Radio, Radio" and "Pump It Up" during the encores, he tossed in some added flair. In the middle of "Watching The Detectives," Elvis kept up the beat and performed a few stanzas from Stevie Wonder's "Master Blaster Jammin" which really set the crowd on fire. Also, with distinctive taste, he jammed through "Don't Look Back" even without the help of female backup singers. (Remember the furor over Mick Jagger and Peter Tosh's version from Saturday Night Live) All in all, Elvis put out an excellent show despite a lack of some real encouragement from us fans.
The Squeeze was sturdy in their opening position. Their unique vocals and original music were received well. The crowd ate up their two chart hits "If I Didn't Love You (I'd Hate You)" and "Pulling Mussels from a Shell," but we still showed how limited our taste was when The Squeeze varied from the accepted New Wave format. Snickers spread over the audience as they played "How Long Has This Been Going On" written by the keyboard player for Hall & Oates. It actually sounded quite polished. Score another one for assorted Philly fans.