It was an event, to be sure, because after his last U.S. tour more than a year ago Elvis vowed never to return. But back he was — and without a vengeance, too. Austin was his only date in Texas. Elvis holds Austin in high esteem as it was his first ever U.S. appearance (at the now-defunct Armadillo).
Anyone who was disappointed in Costello's last Austin appearance either because of its brevity or his curtness should have been totally satisfied with his new show. Elvis actually talked with the audience between numbers. Insiders said he was wearing a top hat backstage and was posing for pictures. No more sulking in the corner before his performances. No more calling out his "bullet boys" to "change somebody's facial designs" for snapping a photo. El was completely at ease this time 'round.
He opened his show with "Just A Memory" from the Taking Liberties compilation, then ran briskly through "Accidents Will Happen." A big surprise came when he sang a fine rendition of Little Richard's "Slippin' And Slidin'."
Elvis and his great band of musicians blew through each number with little hesitation performing songs from each of El's five current albums, as well as newer material from his in-the-stores-soon album Trust. Highlights of his show came with his versions of "Alison" (Ronstadt could never do it justice), a rousing "King Horse," a pulsing, house-shaking "On The Beat," intense readings of "Mystery Dance" and "Hand In Hand," a hot new song called "Clubland," a surrealistic "Watching The Detectives" in which he broke into Stevie Wonder's "Master Blaster," and a scintillating version of "Radio Radio."
Elvis and Co., which included Squeeze' Glenn Tilbrook, The Rumour's Martin Belmont and Lubbock's own Joe Ely, returned to perform not one but two encores! They had fun with Hank William's "Honky Tonkin'" and "Move It On Over" as well as a new Costello tune "From A Whisper To A Scream," sung with Tilbrook. Elvis finished with a crowd-pleasing "You Belong To Me," and, indeed, the audience did.
Squeeze was the opening act and though I'd missed their last Austin appearance I remembered them from the time they opened for Patti Smith (at Randy's Rodeo). Since then I'd gotten all their records and watched them grow to be one of the best bands to make it from the initial New Wave which broke on our shoreline in '77. They performed near-perfect versions of their material culled from their three albums and new one on-the-way, including "Goodbye Girl," "If I Didn't Love You," "Pulling Mussels From A Shell" and "I Think I'm Go Go."
If this hadn't been Elvis' show Squeeze could've played all night long as far as I was concerned.