(CPS) — Enigmatic pop star Elvis Costello has opted to play to relatively small campus audiences on a 14-college concert tour, forsaking more money and bigger crowds waiting for him at off-campus areas.
No one knows why Costello chose the less-lucrative campus tour, which began at the University of California at Davis and was scheduled to end May 2 at Cornell, and Costello himself isn't talking to reporters.
People at ICM, the singer's New York booking agency, would say only that, though Costello might have made more money in larger auditoriums, he opted for the college tour.
Costello charged between $3,000 and $3,500 per concert, hoping to garner about half a million dollars in 18 days. He played at college auditoriums and halls seating between 3,000 and 5,000 people.
"He probably could have drawn about 8,000 per show, depending on his following in a given city," says Karen Dolan of Spin Magazine, which covers the rock 'n' roll world.
The Cal-Davis concert, reports student Peter Blando, 20, was apolictical during the show. "I think he was just trying to have fun. It was completely without statement."
But Blando remembers a reference to the religious street wars of Northern Ireland. "I think (Costello's) Irish, and he did say something about the problems there."
Born Declan Patrick McManus, Costello "doesn't give interviews at all," says Susan Brooks of the singer's London office.
In trying to find out more about Costello's Cambridge, Mass., visit. Harvard Crimson reporter Joseph Tedeschi also found "no one would talk."
Tedeschi hopes Costello will talk at a Harvard ceremony. at which Costello will receive "the first annual" Excellence in Contemporary Music award.
"MTV, Rolling Stone and Spin are to cover the ceremony, and I'm hoping he'll say more than "thank you," Tedeschi says.
Tedeschi did discover Costello's contract with Harvard stipulates the shy singer should not be served quiche, that he wants slabs — not slices — of cheese, that he and his crew want 24 "good lager beers" nightly and mineral water, apple juice and Perrier daily.
However, on the East Coast, Ivy Leaguers were more excited, buying up all available tickets at Harvard, Cornell and elsewhere well in advance.
California (Davis) Aggie Reviewer Tracy Renault says she missed hearing Costello's former backup band, The Attractions, and that she had "mixed feelings" about the show.
First of all, she says, there were no backstage passes for the press.
Renault says Costello played acoustic guitar to "under ten thousand" people, and that the singer played "very few of his standards until the encores."
A backup piano helped, she says, though "the end of the show became a circus that left me scratching my head."
Audience members spun Costello's "spinning wheel of songs" — built to resemble Hollywood's Wheel of Fortune — then danced on stage while Costello ignored them, Renault says.
"There were distractions piled on distractions: a go-go booth and a television and the (audience) dancers," she says with dismay.