Lawrence Journal-World, September 4, 1983

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Horn section fails the new look Elvis Costello
in Starlight Theatre concert

Doug Hitchcock

Elvis Costello long ago proved himself one of the 1980s' premier pop-rock artists.

Although he never matched the raw power of his second release, This Year's Model, Costello's mastery of songwriting has never stopped expanding. And, of course, he still turns a mean phrase.

But, in the six-year transition from angry man to happy man, Costello has lost the emotional edge, the alienated glare, the defiant stance with which he created his artistic reputation.

Costello's concert with the Attractions and friends Tuesday night at the Starlight Theatre in Kansas City, Mo., was testimony to his change of heart.

It was a display of finely crafted songs, including "Man Out of Time," from his Imperial Bedroom LP, "Pump It Up," from This Year's Model, and several selections from Punch the Clock, his most recent release, not to mention a version of the O'Jays' "Backstabbers."

But, in contrast to previous shows, Costello augmented the sparse sound of the Attractions — guitar, bass, keyboard, drums and vocals — with a four-piece horn section complete with tenor and alto saxophones, trumpet and trombone.

It wasn't such a surprise really, considering the amount of horn work on Punch the Clock.

But, for Costello, the horns just didn't work, not in this concert. They bogged down older songs like "Watching the Detectives" — not an easy feat — and overshadowed the other band members' work.

In short, the horns made Costello seem a bit stodgy. It was a relief when the horn players left stage midway through the show, only to return for the finale.

More surprising than the horns was Costello's affable stage manner. He spoke to the crowd — not once, not twice, but frequently and friendly. At one point, he even cracked a joke about the Starlight Theatre where he performed both this summer and last.

"I see you still haven't raised enough money to put a roof on this place," he quipped. "It's Just terrible, the poverty in Kansas."

Overall, Costello successfully demonstrated his ever growing musical talents. His knack for churning out great songs and lyrics is undeniable.

The sheer breadth of Costello's stylistic range — from punk, to pop rock, to country, to balladeer, and back to pop — is something to behold, in and of itself.

His talent hasn't diminished. His voice still sounds the same and he still writes more interesting music than 99 percent of the "artists" seen on MTV.

But, during this week's show at Starlight, Costello seemed a mere shadow of his former self. Or maybe he has just found his own niche in the "Lipstick Vogue."


Lawrence Journal-World, September 4, 1983

Doug Hitchcock reviews Elvis Costello & The Attractions with The TKO Horns, Tuesday, August 30, 1983, Starlight Theatre, Kansas City, MO.


1983-09-04 Lawrence Journal-World clipping 01.jpg

1983-09-04 Lawrence Journal-World page 5D.jpg
Page scan.


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