Elvis Costello felt the wrath of Australia when his opening show at Sydney on Sunday night ended with a barrage of broken seats and other missiles as Costello and his entourage stayed locked away from the rioters in the safety of their dressing room.
The 1,200 fans felt they deserved more for their £5.50 seats than the hour Costello and the Attractions played, and when he refused to play an encore — he said later he considered the audience reaction was "too mechanical" — the crowd vented their fury on Sydney's Regent Theatre.
They chanted "Elvis loves his money" and "Costello is a capitalist" as about 300 fans took part in what some observers called a riot. Seats were torn out and thrown on stage, along with other missiles — including beer cans. both full and empty, apple cores and other projectiles.
The police were called to restore order, but no arrests were made. After the show Costello and his party went to Sydney Airport to catch a connection to Brisbane, a move that led to more trouble for the singer as a posse of photographers and reporters tried to intercept him for comments on his first gig in Australia.
According to reports from Sydney, there was a running battle between the press and Costello's party as "he screamed for his manager to shield him from the photographers."
As he was cornered, he shouted at one photographer, "Who the fucking hell do you think you are?," and journalists who pressed for an interview were later advised against approaching the Costello entourage. "If you go in there, you do so at your own risk," they were told.
After the Sydney show that sparked off the trouble, the concert's promoter, Michael Coppell, said: "He (Costello) walked straight off to his dressing room saying he didn't want to do any more. I am afraid that is his prerogative. I believe he only does encores when he feels he has something to say."
The Sunday night show was the first of an Australian tour that takes Costello and the Attractions up to Wednesday next week, when they return to prepare for their six shows at London's Dominion Theatre from December 18.