Shelling out £4 to see Elvis Costello was a bit of a dodgy investment. Reports of previous gigs had been varied, ranging from unabashed hero worship to equally unabashed threats of breaking all his records. Horror stories of a fat sweaty Elvis playing a 45 minute set with no encore and abusing the audience to boot made me think twice about spending 75 cigarettes worth of hard non-earned grant money on someone who scorned to be a bit of a prima donna. And then there's the music which has its ups and downs as well. Dare I risk the chance of being subjected to an evening of country and western? But as it was the beginning of term and Klute being the only alternative, I thought I'd be a bit of a devil and risk it anyway! Wow!
From the opening bars of "Let Them All Talk," I realised my money hadn't been wasted and £4 was in fact a ridiculously small price to pay for someone who is head, shoulders, elbows and bum above anyone else making pop records today. What we got was a two hour show with three encores that encompassed his whole career from "Alison" right through to "World and his Wife." He was chatty too, proving, as he himself claims, that he really is a "good bloke." Highlights were "Shipbuilding" (extra relevance to Tyneside) stripped down to piano and voice; all the songs off Punch the Clock and "Watching the Detectives" were greatly improved by the TKO horns and backing singers.
The only downer was Elvis' voice: he's just come back from the States and the strain, even on the first night of his UK tour, was plain to hear towards the end of the set.
So there you have it. If you weren't there, you've got no excuse, and if you were, you'll realise that Elvis simply is the "greatest thing."