Elvis Costello Information Service, December 1984

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Elvis Costello
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Elvis Costello & The Attractions

Top Rank, Brighton

Gary Holmes

Oct. 3, 1984

The scene of last year's punchy soul revue, this time round saw Elvis return to the varied set last seen on the Trust tour. Variety was the hallmark of the set with Elvis surely giving everyone in the audience a glimpse of their favourite stage in his career.

The Top Rank was sold out, mainly full of the "they came to stand and watch brigade," although there were some of us having a good time at the front. The sound was better than usual, although the lighting was standard and uninteresting. Unfortunately the voice/throat problems still persisted.

Highlights of the set were this year's version of "Watching The Detectives," an excellent "Mystery Dance" with startling sax from Gary Barnacle who to me looked like an extra from a Flash Gordon movie! New songs heard for the first time live were the atmospheric "Love Field" (Steve's keyboards making it an excellent live track), "Worthless Thing" (dedicated to Wham!), "Home Truth" and "Inch By Inch."

Unreleased tracks played were "I Hope You're Happy Now" which was "to bring the miners strike back into fashion," "Young Boy Blues" which "we went all the way to Australia to learn for you — impressed eh!" and "End of the Rainbow" which, with "Peace In Our Time" gave us a sample of what's to come in December.

The encore seemed to go down best of all with all the "hits" saved till last. "Shipbuilding" and "Everyday I Write The Book" from last year's success and "Red Shoes" and "Alison" from days gone by. A first time outing live for "Getting Mighty Crowded" and of course "Oliver's Army" and "Pump It Up."

Two hours plus, thirty tracks and all for a fiver. Solid entertainment throughout, although I personally preferred the Punch the Clock tour. I'm always left with one thought each time I see Elvis, his songwriting prowess seems undiminished and the sets get longer, but can he keep this going and what are we going to see next?

Elvis Costello & The Attractions

Guildhall, Portsmouth

Jon Philpot

Oct. 7, 1984

The Pogues started things off by playing a stirring set of mainly traditional songs, which took me back to my days in the folk clubs, and was generally well received.

Then, at 8.23, on came Elvis, the Attractions and Gary Barnacle on sax. Elvis was wearing a blue suit and shirt, but perhaps most striking was Steve Naive in tight black trousers and shiny black cap, looking not unlike a giant spider!

Elvis introduced "Sour Milk-Cow Blues" and they were off, but the sound was somewhat muddy. "I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down" followed, benefiting from the sax which gave it a real Stax sound. Then "Lipstick Vogue," with red spotlights pointed directly at the audience, segueing straight into "Watching The Detectives."

The first of the evening's covers was "Dark End of the Street," a well known country-rock song (recorded by the Flying Burrito Brothers, amongst other people), and then an excellent version of James Brown's "I Got You." The sound had not improved much, particularly noticeable on the rockers, and this was perhaps reflected by Elvis' lack of between-song chat, most songs being started by his guitar as soon as the previous one had finished.

Elvis strapped on a red semi-acoustic for "Girls Talk" and "Green Shirt" which were followed by a new song which, at the stage door Elvis said was called "I Hope You're Happy Now." During the last five songs the sound, if anything, worsened and some people around me started to leave, by 9.15 when Elvis said goodnight, they were gone.

The applause died away, and I honestly thought that was it when Elvis returned for solo versions of "End of the Rainbow" and "Peace in Our Time." Both were well received and back came the band for "Pills and Soap" and "Shipbuilding" with Gary Barnacle playing flute and Elvis dispensing with guitar.

One more encore followed, including a dig at Wham before "Everyday I Write The Book," an extended "Getting Mighty Crowded" and with "Pump It Up" completing the proceedings at 9.54.

A wait outside the stage door was rewarded by an appearance from Elvis obviously disgruntled about the sound, saying that he hadn't been able to hear himself sing. He signed a few autographs, thanked all those there for hanging on to see him and expressed the hope that the next time things would be better.

Elvis Costello & The Attractions

UEA LCR , Norwich

Tim Webb

Oct. 31, 1984

Unfortunately, I was not properly prepared for the task of reviewing this concert, managing to neither write down the song sequence nor get hold of one of those photocopied lists afterwards ! So I'll have to rely on memory. It was an excellent concert, his best yet at UEA (I've caught four of the six shows he's done there) where he was very warmly received as always. Rather oddly the first four songs were "Radio, Radio," "I Hope You're Happy Now" (new single imminent), "Pills and Soap," and "Invisible Man." Lots of covers followed, including "Money," "In the Midnight Hour" and the solo stuff. If only I'd nipped in afterwards for a chat with Elvis as he was in high spirits — but I had a quick word with Bruce Thomas, who referred to ECIS as "a worth-while institution, definitely" (well, words to that effect). So there you are!

Elvis Costello & The Attractions

Hammersmith Palais, London

Ian R. Cheetham

Oct. 1, 1984

This was the first of Elvis' five Mondays at the Hammersmith Palais and his first London appearance for nearly a year. Unfortunately it seemed that little had changed since October 1983 as we were confronted with the old story, voice problems. Elvis was hampered throughout the show and even left the stage for five minutes after thirteen songs.

Nevertheless, Elvis and the Attractions, augmented by Gary Barnacle on sax, managed a set lasting nearly two hours. The main set included covers of the Byrds' "So You Want To Be A Rock 'N' Roll Star," "Young Boy Blues," and a new song, introduced as a bit of mindless spite, called "I Hope You're Happy Now."

Highlights included "Mystery Dance," with a great sax solo, "I Wanna Be Loved" which, due to Elvis' throat problems, featured a long, funky introduction and "Clubland."

For the first encore, Elvis featured two solo numbers — Richard Thompson's "End Of The Rainbow" and, of course, "Peace In Our Time."

Elvis was then joined by the rest of the band for "Shipbuilding" which really suffered due to Elvis' voice, the line "Is it worth it" taking on a new meaning as I don't think anyone would have complained had Elvis ended the show there. But he returned for another two encores including a superb "Inch By Inch" and with "Getting Mighty Crowded" stealing the show.

However, Elvis' throat problems aside, the whole concert left a feeling of disappointment. Some of the numbers were rushed and the Attractions seemed to lack the subtleties that had become their trademark. Dare I say it, but it seemed like Elvis and the Attractions were just going through the motions.


Oct. 15, 1984

Having been somewhat disappointed by Elvis' show at the same venue exactly two weeks before, I wasn't quite sure what to expect tonight. But my worries were quickly dispelled as Elvis and the band were in fine form right from the start with the four opening numbers "King Horse," "possession," "Detectives" and "Help Me" setting the mood.

By including more songs from Punch the Clock, Elvis recreated the dance hall atmosphere of the last tour. The main set featured many high spots, two new country style covers, "I Still Miss Someone" and "Dark End of the Street," a superb "Pills and Soap" using the full band, "Mystery Dance" with Gary Barnacle demonstrating his considerable skill on sax, an almost complete version of "His Latest Flame" leading into "The Greatest Thing," another cover, "Young Boy Blues" and the highlight of the whole evening an arrangement of "Clubland" which extended the song, segued into "Joe Porterhouse" then back to "Clubland." Amazing stuff!

For the first encore Elvis treated us to a longer solo spot which, as well as the by now obligatory "End of the Rainbow" and "Peace in Our Time," featured "High Fidelity" and a song called "I've Forgotten More Than You'll Ever Know."

The final encore included the usual favourites, and was brought to a climax by the great, extended "Getting Mighty Crowded" and the evergreen "I Can't Stand Up." Stirring stuff! Everybody was dancing and I'm sure everyone went home happy.

Elvis Costello & The Attractions

Hammersmith Palais, London

Peter Horsted

Oct. 22, 1984

At this show Elvis opened with two cover versions, "Find Yourself Another Fool" and "Dark End of the Street." Tonight though, was really a golden oldies night as he ploughed through a 39-song set, including the classics "Mystery Dance," "Less Than Zero," "Waiting for the End of the World," "I Stand Accused," "Peace, Love and Understanding," "Radio, Radio," "Red Shoes," "Oliver's Army," and not forgetting the ever popular "Alison." Yes, this was another good performance from Elvis Costello and the Attractions.

Elvis Costello & The Attractions

Edinburgh Playhouse

Keith Sharp

Oct. 26, 1984

Before this concert I had thought that Elvis and the Attractions might not be able to match the amazing show that they put on last year with Afrodiziak and the TKO Horns, but I needn't have worried. They came on stage and crashed into "Deportees Club," which was a huge improvement on the vinyl version, and set the tone for the evening. Gary Barnacle on saxophone did a great job filling in the gaps left by the horns and added new life to songs like "Mystery Dance" and "Pills and Soap."

The first set featured many new songs including a barnstorming version of "So You Want To Be a Rock 'n' Roll Star," their Christmas single "I Hope You're Happy Now," "Dark End of the Street" and a brilliant medley of "His Latest Flame"/"The Greatest Thing." Other highlights included a snippet of "Poppa was a Rolling Stone" before "King Horse" and a bit of "Fame" at the end of "New Lace Sleeves." For the first encore, the audience were completely silent as Elvis strummed solo through "End of the Rainbow," "The Image of Me" (a Conway Twitty song) and "Peace in Our Time." This was followed by "Shipbuilding," with a flute solo by Gary Barnacle.

For the final part of the show all the hits were wheeled out, including "Everyday I Write The Book," "Getting Mighty Crowded" and "Red Shoes" all of which had the 3000+ capacity crowd on its feet, "Alison" and of course "Watching the Detectives," which this time included "Help Me." Unfortunately I had to leave during this number, after 2¼ hours and 36 songs, but what I saw was every bit as good as last year's soul revue. Elvis' voice was strong and clear, and the sound (for once) was near-perfect. Overall it was a superb performance which left everybody looking forward to the solo date here two weeks later.

Elvis Costello & The Attractions

Refectory, Leeds University

Steve Britain

Oct. 23, 1984

The Leeds concert was very loud and fast with the first two numbers ruined by a very bad sound quality. Elvis didn't say much between each song until the encores when he seemed to relax more. There were one or two cover versions included, and one of these, "His Latest Flame," was the highlight of the night for me. Elvis' set lasted approximately 2¼ hours and towards the end most of the crowd were really dancing along, especially to the last two numbers. All in all, I thought the show was highly enjoyable and very good value, if perhaps a little too urgent and rushed.

Elvis Costello & The Attractions

Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool

Andrew Moorhouse

Oct. 19, 1984

After last year's somewhat passionless, but nonetheless entertaining, series of concerts around the UK, I pondered over which direction Elvis would take from there. 1983 was a relative commercial success and to a great extent Goodbye Cruel World was an attempt to consolidate his position in the public eye while maintaining his "artist" tag. However, despite the release of two wonderful "pop" singles and "Peace in Our Time" which was a more than adequate follow up to "Shipbuilding" and "Pills and Soap" (at least lyrically if not so much musically), the ever so fickle public have moved on again to such protest songs as "Two Tribes" (worthily perhaps) and "The War Song" (slogans for juveniles). Elvis seems to be doing all he can to compete but there is something wrong in the promotions department (and perhaps El's non cooperation - Ed) which would sell the records. After all he's got songs for every occasion and still no limelight robbery (if he were ten feet taller and almost handsome...)

While Goodbye Cruel World does contain numerous slices of fine pop music, the three singles, "Worthless Thing" and "Home Truth" being the best examples, there is something missing in the overall feel. Something I would put down to the (too) excellent i.e. bland production by Clanger/Winstanley and one or two mediocre songs ("Sour Milk-Cow Blues," "The Great Unknown").

It was these thoughts I took with me to the Liverpool Empire concert, an overall belief in what Elvis was trying to do, tempered with some reservations on how he going about doing it. Frankly I anticipated being disappointed by this year's model and as it turned out for the first 3/4 hour these feelings were fulfilled. Lacklustre performances of new and old songs left me cold. But suddenly there was a transformation. The lengthy diatribe against MTV and Presley's emasculation was followed by a stunning version of "Worthless Thing."

From this point until the end of the concert we were treated to a high standard of Elvis classics with numerous high points. Among the best of these were "Home Truth" with Elvis spitting and snarling into the microphone, angry and venomous. "This is where the home truth ends." Should you applaud a divorce? I think not. Other "stand outs" included the "Only Flame In Town" ballad, the Gary Barnacle solo in "Shipbuilding" (dedicated to the Cammell Lairds sit-in workers in Walton Jail), Elvis' singing on "I Wanna Be Loved" and what I will always consider to be one of his greatest moments "Beyond Belief."

However, surely the best things about the evening were the first two sets of encores. Solo, for "Peace in Our Time" and "End of the Rainbow," and then with the Attractions at full tilt, a series of cover versions including "Slippin' And Slidin'," "I Got You," "Slow Down," "I Still Miss Someone" and the wonderful "Getting Mighty Crowded." All these things made it a night to remember, but I still have my quibbles — while never tiring of "Alison," I'm sick to death of "Pump It Up," "Mystery Dance" and even "Watching The Detectives" is beginning to pale somewhat.

But the question still remains as to where Elvis should go from here. If he is to continue to have notions of selling to the general record buying public then there must be a return to the fun promotional days of Stiff and Radar, days when it was interesting to see how a new record was marketed, days when you got value for money instead of remixed 12" versions with album tracks on the B side.

Unfortunately RCA seem unwilling to do this, so perhaps it is time for Elvis to give up aiming for this market and just continue to produce class music, both "pop" and "political" (mixing the two wherever possible) and be satisfied with providing enjoyable and stimulating material for a substantial market of perhaps "Upwardly Mobile" (as the NME is so fond of calling us, cynicism creeping in there folks), fans who appreciate good tunes and interesting lyrics.

Elvis Costello & The Attractions

City Hall, Newcastle

John Gourley

Oct. 25, 1984

I find trying to review this show very difficult. OK, truth time — possibly the least pleasing Costello gig that I've attended. The impression at the end of the night was one of "going through the motions." Of course the band were tight, Elvis' vocals were excellent, and Gary Barnacle's sax was a good move after the TKOs, but there was something lacking. With the exception of Elvis' half-hour solo spot which was tremendous, (it included covers of Conway Twitty and Charlie Rich numbers and "End of the Rainbow" which had the same quieting effect on the City Hall audience this time round as "Shipbuilding" had nearly two years ago), and a couple of slower tempo ballads, the songs were pushed out as if on automatic pilot. Elvis appeared very cynical, heavily criticising Top of the Pops and Wham, and swore at a member of the audience who shouted for "Pump It Up." This gig was definitely a strange one!

Elvis Costello & The Attractions

Dominion Theatre, London

Ian R. Cheetham

Nov. 3, 1984

This was the final night of Elvis' UK tour with the Attractions and I think everyone was looking forward to a fitting climax. But this was not to be. The main set saw Elvis in one of his most bitter moods. After only two songs he announced that this was the official Goodbye Cruel World show and that they wouldn't be playing any more songs, just one continuous number "cos it doesn't matter what we play." Now come on Elvis, you're preaching to the converted and that kind of attitude is no way to reward your fans who've paid good money to see you.

What followed was a rather rushed set of another 22 songs — not the slick performance we came to know and love. Notable exceptions were "Kid About It," "Alison," "Clubland" and the two covers "Dark End of the Street" and "Young Boy Blues." Oh yes, Elvis also mentioned that the intro to "Sour Milk-Cow Blues" bore a striking resemblance to "Working in a Coalmine" for obvious reasons.

Then, just prior to the band introductions during "Pump It Up," Elvis stunned the crowd by announcing that this would be the last concert "for a very, very, very long time." It was interesting to note that although Pete did his usual solo during the "roll call," Bruce and Steve preferred a silent bow to their usual solo. And then they were off.

After a few minutes Elvis returned to the stage alone, and it was as if a huge weight bad been lifted from his shoulders as he treated us to a superb solo spot. This comprised six songs including; the beautiful "Riot Act," Dylan's "I Threw it All Away" and "I'll Make It All Up to You" by Charlie Rich. He even added a brief chorus from "The Bells" to the end of "Peace in Our Time." The band then rejoined him for the evergreen "Shipbuilding" before launching into an eight number encore, giving us a glimpse of their true capabilities. Of these numbers, it was particularly nice to hear "Big Tears" again, and I always enjoy "Red Shoes."

Having left the stage after "I Wanna Be Loved," the audience were beginning to think that it was all over, when back they came for a final encore which was itself worth the ticket money. This was Elvis and the Attractions at their very best, and soon erased the memory of the first part of the show. Elvis threatened to play beyond midnight as they launched into a magnificent version of Wilson Pickett's "In the Midnight Hour" closely followed by "Getting Mighty Crowded" and "I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down." The proceedings were brought to a climax by the slow, beautiful "Clowntime is Over," which left everyone hoping that it was not for good.

Incidentally, they didn't quite make it to midnight, the show ended about 11.45!

An interesting footnote, the (pleasant) support group Big Heat (I think) said that their new single, due out early in the new year, was being produced by EC.

Tags: The AttractionsGary BarnacleTop Rank SuiteBrightonHammersmith PalaisLondonWatching The DetectivesMystery DanceLove FieldSteve NieveWorthless ThingWham!Home TruthInch By InchI Hope You're Happy NowYoung Boy BluesEnd Of The RainbowPeace In Our TimeShipbuildingEveryday I Write The Book(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red ShoesAlisonGetting Mighty CrowdedOliver's ArmyPump It UpPunch The ClockThe ByrdsSo You Want To Be A Rock 'N' Roll StarI Wanna Be LovedClublandRichard Thompson

<< >>

ECIS, No. 18, December 1984

Includes 1984 UK Tour concert reviews:

Gary Holmes reviews October 3, 1984, Top Rank, Brighton, England.

Mark Gilmore reviews September 27, 1984, Ulster Hall, Belfast.

John & Martin Foyle review September 29, 1984, National Stadium, Dublin.

Jon Philpot reviews October 7, 1984, Guildhall, Portsmouth, England.

Ian R. Cheetham reviews October 1 and 15, 1984, Hammersmith Palais, London.

Ian R. Cheetham reviews November 3, 1984, Dominion Theatre, London.

Tim Webb reviews October 31, 1984, UEA LCR, Norwich, England.

Peter Horsted reviews October 22, 1984, Hammersmith Palais, London.

Peter Horsted reviews November 2, 1984, Dominion Theatre, London

Keith Sharp reviews October 26, 1984, Edinburgh Playhouse, Scotland.

Steve Britain reviews October 23, 1984, The Refectory, Leeds University.

John Gourley reviews October 25, 1984, City Hall, Newcastle.

Phil Pavling reviews October 29, 1984, Hammersmith Palais, London.

Andrew Moorhouse reviews October 19, 1984, Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool.

Plus many more articles on Elvis Costello.


pages 36 and 1 (back page and cover)
Back page and cover.


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Elvis Costello & The Attractions

Ulster Hall, Belfast

Mark Gilmore

Sep. 27, 1984

In keeping with his promise to return to Belfast, Elvis did just that for the first date of his British and Irish tour. The show, as usual, was excellent and I enjoyed it as much as the June '83 gig, if not more. The set was, to a large extent, modelled on the last couple of British tours only this time the Attractions were complimented by Gary Barnacle on occasional sax (and flute during "Shipbuilding"). Elvis was in fine form and it was good to see that there were about twice as many people at the gig than the last time Elvis was here.

The numbers to be mentioned: "The Only Flame In Town" sung as a ballad; the best "Shabby Doll" I've heard yet; a new song about mindless spite called "I Hope You're Happy How"; "Home Truth"; a funky "I Wanna Be Loved"; the inflation version of "Clubland" (Elvis sings "forty winks minus 25 percent"); "Alison," as always; "Inch by Inch" (great sax by Gary Barnacle); a revitalised and seldom before sung "Getting Mighty Crowded" the highlight of the show; the second encore: solo electric version of "End of the Rainbow" and "Peace in Our Time"; "Turning the Town Red"; and the ones everybody danced to... "Deportees Club" and "Pump It Up."

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Elvis Costello & The Attractions

National Stadium, Dublin

John & Martin Foyle

Sep. 29, 1984

The gig was great although Elvis was not in the best of moods. His sheer professionalism, however, helped cancel any bad effects that might have had.

The audience remained seated for the first part of the set. This was thanks to the strong-armed stewards, but was changed by Elvis after his enforced break. He said that he needed some heat so why didn't we come up to the front.

Elvis said that "I Hope You're Happy Now" would sound different when it was recorded (during the week).

"Joe Porterhouse" was introduced as "A song about a funeral where no one cried, well no one that mattered."

"Worthless Thing" was introduced as being an anti pop video song which they (EC & the A's) were sorry to be involved in.

Before and after "Peace in Our Time" El played the opening guitar riff from "Withered and Died."

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Elvis Costello & The Attractions

Hammersmith Palais, London

Phil Pavling

Oct. 29, 1984

For the final night of his residency at the Hammersmith Palais, Elvis promised us "the best one yet." But, despite the longest of the five shows, (41 songs, 2 hours 40 minutes), I didn't think that it matched the standard set by the previous week's performance. There were no great surprises tonight except ending the set with "I Still Miss Someone," and there was only one song not previously performed, namely "I Feel Good." The night kicked off with the new single "I Hope You're Happy Now," but things didn't seem so wonderful early on (e.g. tonight's "Mystery Dance" lacked the brilliance of previous performances and ended abruptly). No problems with the second half of the show, however, with everyone well pleased and wonderful versions of "Dark End of the Street" and "Young Boy Blues" — we need these on vinyl and very soon.

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Elvis Costello & The Attractions

Dominion Theatre, London

Peter Horsted

Nov. 2, 1984

To me, this was a very poor performance from Elvis. Personally, I think that it was not so much him as the venue, since he is much better in the dance halls, rather than the theatres. Just to prove how unhappy Elvis was, he had an argument with someone in the audience and ended up walking off stage after about 50 minutes. The curtains came down and the hall lights came on, but after five minutes he returned to do a rather rushed show with very little talk. There were two highlights in the show, a new song called "Suffering Face" and the old Wilson Pickett classic "In the Midnight Hour." But as I said, not a good show. Let's hope that he didn't mean it when he said that we won't be seeing him for a long long time, and when (if) they do return, let's hope that it's back to the Hammersmith Palais! I also hope that he has a good break, after all a happy Elvis is better than a tired one!

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