If ever anyone has proven that ugliness and attractiveness are not mutually exclusive then it must surely be Elvis Costello.
Opening up with the old chestnuts "Oliver's Army" and "Accidents will happen," Elvis raced through a 2¼ hour set which represented his various periods well; not easy after 13 albums. Hardly even stopping for applause — he doesn't need it, he knows he's brilliant — he says it often enough — Elvis snarled his way through the cynical bitterness of "Clubland," screeched out the hysteria of "Tokyo Storm Warning" and defined love in "Jack of all Parades." Of course, you couldn't actually hear a single word because the PA was so bad.
Those perenial pieces of background, the Attractions, were still in tow. Bruce, with his nice blonde fringe, naff national health glasses and right-out-of-it suit. (the velvet curtain look I think) was looking particularly like a 6th form computer freak at a sci-fi convention. His twin brother Pete on drums looked completely disinterested just humming away to himself. Steven Nieve (alias Maurice Worm, Norman Brain and Horace Barlow) on keyboards looked as though he was having a great time to himself hardly even glancing at the adoring crowd — so busy was he with his sweeping majestic gestures as the music went through him (like, man).
Elvis, tastefully attired in a de-mob suit and a truly humiliating shirt, played guitar. Conciseness was the order of the day; no belaboured solos, no stopping to take stock, the four feed off each other brilliantly and they confidently rocked through the set determined to pack in as much as possible. The audience, who stood all through, were very responsive and insistent about applauding but the little plump man on the stage was not interested. No time, when you've got so much genius to pack into one evening.
Fortunately the had PA did not matter much since the instruments were only four and Elvis puts very little emphasis on production (in fact he often employs Nick Low). The muffle was not so bad that you couldn't pick out Steve's brilliant new lines for "Peace, Love and Understanding" or Elvis's messing around with "Blood and Chocolate" on the guitar.
Suffice to say it was the concert of the year with Elvis on top form and not looking a day over 50. Songs packed full of emotion and intelligence with such words and varied tunes are rare — but a whole ecstatic evening of them is even rarer. The man is a one-off.