Melbourne Age, May 29, 1984

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Rock cools off in the Concert Hall


Rebecca Batties

It was a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time for all but a few at the first of the Elvis Costello and the Attractions' concerts at the Concert Hall on Friday night. Were we all victims of circumstance?

Although the British performer and his band tried hard to please and the audience put in a mighty effort to enjoy — the concert was a dud.

And the atmosphere in the Concert Hall was about as exciting and warm as an orphan's wake. But for a few of the ballads that Costello does so well, it was easy to see that the hall is not totally conducive to rock concerts.

The show started slow with songs as "Let Them All Talk" and "Watching the Detectives" and finished fast with the likes of "Can't Stand Up For Falling Down" and there was nothing in between.

It was a big disappointment for those who (rightly so) would have expected it to be a high point in the rock music year.

Costello, looking less like the Buddy Holly figure of the past, presented fans with songs that spanned his career and that he has obviously not tired of singing. "Mystery Dance," "My Aim Is True," "Girls Talk," "Clubland" and "Every Day I Write The Book" were among them but their recordings had more animation than this live performance.

The solemnity of "Shipbuilding" captured and held the audience for a time and it seemed that at this half-way point the concert might be saved but the audience was led nowhere.

Much of contemporary music relies on volume, not ear-splitting but enveloping and linking the audience with the performer. The thin sound and low volume on this night barely touched the back rows of the stalls.

As if to repay those caught in the melee of his first Australian visit (this is his third) where he refused to do an encore, Costello came back to perform an extra 10 songs and almost wore out his welcome. The most memorable of these was his solo version of "Riot Act."

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The Age, May 29, 1984


Rebecca Batties reviews Elvis Costello & The Attractions, Friday, May 25, 1984, Concert Hall, Melbourne, Australia.


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