Quite a few people missed a great chance to see the man who is considered by many to be pop's most accomplished song craftsman, Elvis Costello, live and flawless, September 2 at Mud Island, in Memphis. It was a beautiful night at the amphitheater on Mud Island, where one was able to watch the tug boats glide effortlessly behind the stage while listening to Elvis and his band busily promoting their new LP Punch the Clock, which he described afterwards as "totally successful." The audience at this show, which was far from being sold out, obviously agreed with Elvis.
Elvis's first-ever appearance in Memphis, was definitely leaps and bounds better than his previous area appearance last year in Nashville. But the question on the tip of everyone's tongue was, "Why play Memphis?" Elvis revealed at the Peabody Hotel after the show that he was asked to give Memphis and the "spanking-new" Mud Island a chance, and he took the city up on its offer. Elvis was pleasantly surprised at the outcome of the show, saying that he really enjoyed playing at the park.
Opening for Elvis Costello and the Attractions was Aztec Camera, a relatively young band from England currently promoting their debut LP High Land, Hard Rain. Aztec Camera put out a stunning performance with their unique form of new-generation folk rock. It is hard for one to believe that the Aztec Camera's leader Roddy Frame is only 19 years old; his deep songs seem as though they come from a world-weary savant rather than from a Glaswegian teenager. Aztec Camera showed that night that they are not a bunch of kids; instead, they proved to the audience that they are talented performers with a promising future.
Joining Elvis Costello on stage were the Attractions: Steve Nieve, keyboards; Bruce Thomas, bass guitar; and Pete Thomas, drums. That night the Attractions played extremely tight, especially on songs like "Pump It Up" and "Watching the Detectives." (After the show Jake Riviera, Elvis' manager, revealed that one reason why the Attractions played so well is because he made the Attractions go "on the wagon" after an incident of inspired lunacy and debauchery after a show in St. Louis which resulted in Pete Thomas' and Steve Nieve's arrest by the authorities.) The T.K.O. Horns, consisting of Big Jim Paterson (trombone), Paul Speare (tenor saxophone), Jeff Blythe (alto saxophone), and Dave Pleus (trumpet) are a new addition to the lineup. They added a new dimension to Elvis Costello's live sound, seeming fully integrated, complementary, and purposeful on the songs from the new album. Unfortunately, when then played on older songs like "You Better Watch Your Step," they ruined the original spareness of the songs.
After the concert while walking down the bridge that crosses the "Old Man," one could feel the serenity and the feeling of satisfaction being emitted by the fellow concert-goers, who, by the look on their faces, were extremely pleased. The concert was that good.