Glasgow Herald, December 8, 1986

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Glasgow Herald

UK & Ireland newspapers


Elvis Costello and the Attractions

Playhouse, Edinburgh

David Belcher

At one critical extreme there was the impromptu relay squad of grown men leapfrogging for sheer joy up and down the left-hand aisle of the stalls. At another there were complaints on the grounds of the alleged self indulgence of Elvis's guitar playing, and his non performance of country material. A victim of his own continuing excellence, Sir Elvis can never seem to please all his fans all the time.

For what it's worth I thought he was as good as ever. I have seen and heard him over the past eight years, my notes bearing witness to this, becoming increasingly illegible and ending after the first 10 songs with the words "primal vamp" (which, whatever they mean, pretty well sum things up).

Although this short UK tour has been billed as a kind of Elvis Costello retrospective exhibition, the most reassuring thing on Friday night was the strength of the songs from his most recent LP, the angry and psychedelic Blood & Chocolate, when played against the older classic tracks.

That and the extreme wonderfulness of the Attractions, demonstrated time and again as old songs were taken apart and reassembled in new and arcane ways before our very ears.

Song highlights were too numerous to mention but included a version of "Battered Old Bird" which fell apart with a bizarrely awful Elvis guitar solo (his guitar solos, in fact, sounded like he'd just picked the guitar up for the first time, which in many ways can't be bad; "witty" was the best description I heard for them).

Keyboard deity Steve Nieve was the epitomy of cool; Elvis was taut and preoccupied; everyone there on the two nights, Friday and Saturday, is sure to have their own store of highlights.

For the final song out went the main stage lights, on came two strobes, and on came the new Mrs Costello, Cait, playing droning feed-back guitar, in her musical guise as John Cale. The song they were doing was "Poor Napoleon."

"That was instant karma," said the man from the Sunday Post on my left, his notes obviously having attained a higher plane. No-one could have disagreed with him.


The Glasgow Herald, December 8, 1986

David Belcher reviews Elvis Costello & The Attractions, Friday, December 5, 1986, Playhouse, Edinburgh, Scotland.


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Page scan.
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