Minneapolis Tribune, February 16, 1978

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Elvis Costello's punk rock guitar draws
overflow crowd to city bar

Tim Carr

Imagine a Woody Allen-type character in flux between endearing comic neurosis and endearing criminal psychosis. Give him a cold glare, a chopped-up crew cut ala Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver, a rasping English accent and an electric guitar.

Then tell him that his girlfriend just left him, that his job is a crashing bore and that tomorrow holds no illusions. Finally, get him to motivate himself, quit moping and do something about it — laugh, get angry, find an outlet for his frustrations, maybe write some rock songs.

Well, that character did write some rock songs, songs that rocked on hard, driving rhythms and rolled with fiery, poignant lyrics, songs that showed up on a debut album late last year entitled My Aim Is True. He is no longer a figment of anybody's imagination, but a verifiable tough new voice in rock 'n' roll. His name is Elvis Costello.

Costello is causing quite a sensation nationwide by being one of the first of the British new wave rock performers to gain across-the-board critical acclaim and even AM radio exposure (on album-oriented stations).

Tuesday night the 23-year-old guitarist, a former computer operator whose real name is Declan Patrick McManus, made his Minneapolis debut at an overcrowded Jay's Longhorn Bar. (Approximately 150 diligent new wave stoics had crashed the gates or snuck into the bar with counterfeit tickets and forged hand stamps, thus making the listening conditions less than optimum.)

Costello and his quartet made fighting the crush of the crowd worth the hassle, simply because they delivered one of the most urgently alive rock concerts the Twin Cities have witnessed since the heyday of club rock — before rock moved to sports arenas and became a showbizzy concert, rather than youth-oriented dance music.

The music was fierce and to the point, a '70s hybrid of rockabilly, rhythm and blues and Detroit-style garage rock. The lyrics, which Costello spat out with articulate, abrasive howls, were self-assertive paeans to and anthems about the modern world and its problems and plusses.

While standing rigid at the microphone, neck craning toward the crowd and strumming hand a constant blur on the guitar, Costello performed a fast, evenly paced 55-minute set. It included songs such as "Red Shoes" and "Watchin' Detectives" from the album and also some new unrecorded material, "Lipstick Vogue," a Reggae-tinged "I Don't Want to Go to Chelsea" and his finale, "Pump It Up."

On stage he seems a bit of a poseur, never smiling or showing any kind of emotion or acknowledging the crowd, but there was enough obvious conviction in his playing and sweat collecting on his brow to indicate that he was putting his all into this performance.

Before the show, Costello was described mildly by the Longhorn management as "very temperamental," and was complaining about a two-day bus ride in from Portland, Ore., the rented equipment and the diminutive bar. This bickering side, however, wasn't reflected in his incredibly animated performance, which included an encore, one of his first on this tour.

Costello was preceded by Willy Alexander and the Boom Boom Band, a Boston new wave band that played a rambling set of intriguing hard rock originals from their just-released MCA album. Alexander, a gaunt, gangling keyboardist, led the group with his high-strung but affecting singing voice and a simple, retrograde organ style that was reminiscent of the sound of an earlier, innovative American band, the Doors. Quick-witted guitarist Billy Loosigan was the standout musician in the Boom Boom Band.

Tags: My Aim Is TrueDeclan MacManusMinneapolisJay's Longhorn BarThe Attractions(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red ShoesWatching The DetectivesLipstick Vogue(I Don't Want To Go To) ChelseaPump It UpPortlandWillie Alexander And The Boom Boom BandThe Doors


Minneapolis Tribune, February 16, 1978

Tim Carr reviews Elvis Costello & The Attractions with opening act Willie Alexander, Tuesday, February 14, 1978, Jay's Longhorn Bar, Minneapolis.


1978-02-16 Minneapolis Tribune page 5B clipping 01.jpg

Page scan.
1978-02-16 Minneapolis Tribune page 5B.jpg


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