There's a paradoxically straight air about Elvis Costello; he looks like a watered down Clarke Kent (alias Superman), and has what has been called "bank clerk charisma." When he sings he clutches his head with both hands, as if it were going to burst apart.
The huge crowd at the Stella last Thursday seemed to enjoy every moment of the concert, from the opening songs "Mystery Dance" and "Waiting for the End of the World," to "Red Shoes," also from his first album, and his latest single, "I Don't Want To Go To Chelsea," which almost brought the house down.
His backing band, The Attractions, while lending excellent support (especially the keyboards player), all look, well, normal, and stay somewhat in the background. This was emphasised by one of the best lighting set-ups I've seen at any concert in Dublin so far, but Elvis wasn't too happy about his microphone — it was live. Undaunted, he carried on with an Ian Dury song (big cheer), a few tracks from his recent album, This Year's Model, and, when he launched into "Watching the Detectives," the crowd went wild.
Then suddenly he dashed off the stage, and the band disappeared after him. The crowd stomped and roared for an encore, and when he eventually returned, he took the microphone and said, "This is the first gig of our European tour and after America it's nice to play to human beings again. Thank you." He finished with "Miracle Man" and "I'm Not Angry," and with a swagger and a salute to the audience he was gone. The crowd screamed for more, but the night was over. There were few complaints all round, except for the guy I heard say "I couldn't get into it cos I wasn't out of its." If you missed this concert, don't dare miss Graham Parker in the Stadium on April the third.