Dublin Sunday Tribune, January 17, 1982

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Dublin Sunday Tribune

UK & Ireland newspapers


Elvis comes of age

Bill Graham

The last time Elvis Costello played Ireland at the Macroom Festival bottles flew and he launched into the cautionary "Watch Your Step" with appropriately venomous intent. Last Wednesday at the National Stadium after the same song a much more affable Elvis signed an autograph on a copybook thrust up from the mass milling around the stage area. The instance signified the difference between the two performances. He may still unchain his melodies like a righteous brother and never let his shades down but no longer embattled Costello winked kindly from behind them.

The wintry circumstances helped. Somehow the cold and the consequent commitment on both the audience and the act's part to arrive made it a more intimate communal affair and Costello, a bowtied and baggy-trousered philanthropist responded by offering 31 songs from his repertoire, surely an Irish concert record.

Inevitably, his voice felt the strain and cracked on the encore of his latest hit "A Good Year For The Roses." Inevitably too, the attention could wander under such a fusilade of material but when he finished, only the most scurvy of critics could deny the character and conscience of Costello.

Conscience because Costello, probably from his Irish-Liverpudlian background, has a special sense of sin and salvation and the ability to anatomise relationships with rare sensitivity.

Everyone will choose her own favourites from such an extended performance but my preference was a stretch in the middle of the concert beginning with "Success" from his latest album Almost Blue then following with "Watch Your Step," a rollicking version of "Tonight the Bottle Let me Down," "New Lace Sleeves," "Shabby Doll" and "Almost Blue." That last song though with the same title as his last album wasn't included on it and turned out to be a breathtaking ballad — in fact closer to Cole Porter and such classic songwriters than country music.

Occasionally the sound could be rough, particularly on the up-tempo numbers but Costello has always preferred to keep close to the hard-edged style of club rock and roll. His band, The Attractions — keyboard Steve Naeve and the dauntless Thomases, Bruce on bass and Pete on drums - gave the support expected through their long association, particularly on the final encores, "I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down," "Oliver's Army," "What's so Funny About Peace Love and Understanding," the Nick Lowe song he has taken for his own.

After five years Costello no longer seems quite the angry, bitter performer of his earlier reputation. He has become a truly durable professional, a man whose material could be an anthology of popular music of the last thirty years, although he has reworked his inspirations to create a tauter less sentimental and contemporary relevance.

After this concert it's easy to see how enduring a figure Costello has become. Although his form of rock doesn't seem so fashionable these days, Costello's sheer application and continued prolific output ensures that he will not lose his position.

Last Wednesday's concert showed that Costello has the realism and commitment to last through the recession. He is truly a good artist and a good man for these hard times.

Tags:  Good Year For The RosesSuccessAlmost BlueWatch Your StepTonight The Bottle Let Me DownNew Lace SleevesShabby Doll Almost BlueCole PorterBruce ThomasPete ThomasI Can't Stand Up For Falling DownOliver's ArmyNick LoweThe AttractionsHank WilliamsWhy Don't You Love Me (Like You Used To Do)?Tears Before BedtimeKid About ItMy Funny ValentineFrank SinatraConcert 1981-06-27 MacroomMacroom FestivalPaul BradySteve Nieve


The Sunday Tribune, January 17, 1982

Bill Graham reviews Elvis Costello & The Attractions, Wednesday, January 13, 1982, National Stadium, Dublin, Ireland.

BP Fallon also reports on the concert.


1982-01-17 Dublin Sunday Tribune page 27 clipping 01.jpg

Costello concert — a solid gold treat

BP Fallon

1982-01-17 Dublin Sunday Tribune clipping 02.jpg

Elvis Costello and The Attractions' concert at Dublin Stadium last Wednesday was a solid gold treat. Starting off with their rockabillied version of Hank Williams; song "Why Don't You Love Me Like You Used To Do," El and the chaps gave us two hours of magical music and some twenty-one songs, including the debut of unrecorded numbers like "Tears Before Bedtime" and "Kid About It"; fine stuff.

Sometimes there’s that element off Costello that people used to describe Sinatra: “A Torch Singer”, singing with his guitar around his neck, but not playing it, acting out the emotions of the songs with his hands and vocal expressions. After all, El has recorded the Rogers and Hart classic “My Funny Valentine”.

Elvis Costello: A True Star

El was kind enough to record an hour long special with me - chatting about not only his own music but also choosing fave trax by other artists too. Tho’ I say it m’self, it’s a programme not to be missed when it’s broadcast on RTE Radio 2 on February 10th.

El sure knows his music. At the Macroom Festival last summer, he leaned over to Paul Brady and said “You used to be in Planxty didn’t you?”

Last Wednesday Philomena Begley cropped up in Costello’s after-show conversation, and an extraordinary fact emerged as Willie O’Reilly was driving Elvis, The Attractions keyboard player Steve Nieve, his security man Paddy and myself back to Elvis’ hotel. El spotted my lapel badge which says ‘Big Tom is King’.

He grinned and said, “I was in L.A. on the last tour and we had three days off. I didn’t fancy staying in L.A. and the alternative was to drive across America to Minneapolis. I didn’t fancy staying in Minneapolis either, so for the crack (his word) I flew to Las Vegas to check the place out. And d’you know who was playing there? Big Tom!”

Still…. I somehow can’t see Elvis Costello covering “Four Country Roads”... !

Photo by Eamonn O'Dwyer.
1982-01-17 Dublin Sunday Tribune photo 01 eo.jpg


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