It's easy to take an adopted "stance" when you put things down on paper, and it's amazing how many "street kids" boast their credibility via the pen in their right hand while they are clutching a bundle of free "review copy" albums in the left (and I'm not exactly blameless myself).
But there comes a time when you have to put up or shut up, so that's how I found myself queueing outside Tiffanys for over two hours in the hope of getting a Costello ticket "at the door." Yeah, it rained a bit and a few people queue-hopped, but what the hell, we British are made of sturdy stuff and total strangers shared a joke and a bottle of Martini until we eventually got in.
Aah, but it was worth it — in the end. Organisation at Tiffanys could have been better (oh the queues!) and the DJ provided some light relief via some unintentional funnies. After telling us of all the goodies Regular Music (Hi Pete, Hi Barry) had lined up, at that time due to include one of my fave U.S. bands, Pere Ubu, he solemnly told us "And if you don't know anything about Pere Ubu, here's one of his best records," and played the brilliant "Final Solution." Oh well, can't win 'em all!
The support, the Mickey Jupp Band, came and went, playing some fine R'n'B-based toons, with the wunnerful Mick Grabhams on guitar, but ultimately their set concluded without much applause and no chance of an encore. Now you had to take up position for the main attraction — prop up against the bar, stay on the dance-floor or prepare to do battle stage front.
I elected to do the latter, which was pretty brave — pretty stupid too! Usually you can tell the type of fan from the "image" of the artist e.g. Status Quo attract long-haired denim-clad guys, while shy mousy students withdraw into their introverted worlds with Leonard Cohen and Melanie — but don't make that mistake with Costello, bro'. No, he may look like a four-eyed wimp, but don't mess with any of his fans, cos after enduring the crush at this gig, they can go through anything. As I said to the lovely lady next to me, "If I was to get this close to you outside, you'd shout "Rape" and call the cops!"
But I digress — it's the man and his music that matter. Forget the crush — sway with the rhythms. You want rockers, you got "Waiting For The End Of The World," "Pump It Up" and "Lipstick Vogue." You want ballads (but bitter-sweet, baby), there's "Little Triggers" and everyone's favourite oldie, "Alison."
At last year's gig at Tiffanys, Elvis had been like a tight coiled spring, ready to snap back at you at any moment, but This Year's Model is smoother, less tense. He shows real confidence in his Attractions, allowing them to carry the music as he lets his Fender dangle, contemplating... considering..; it's his move and you just know who's in control.
He brings the songs up to boiling point,then he lets us all simmer for a while. The extended version of "Watching The Detectives" was just amazing... watching... watching... watching, with Steve Naive on keyboards throwing in some superb little riffs — that beautiful ripple that follows the line "visible shivers running down my spine" has to be one of the greatest moments in rock 'n' roll — as Elvis sings the title over and over again.
The way he handled the crowd with "I'm Not Angry" was no less impressive,either. Edinburgh audiences are notoriously cool in their receptions, but the throaty cries of the title hook cued by the man himself, proved that here was someone possessing a rather special magic. He ain't no Stiff, that's for sure and those guys The Attractions, really live up to their name. I've already mentioned the organist, but Bruce Thomas' fluid inventive bass playing showed exactly what can be done on four strings,and Pete Thomas (no relation) on drums never missed a beat all night.
If I say my only complaint was that they didn't play either "Less Than Zero" or the incredible "Night Rally," can you appreciate what I'm trying to say?