Hundreds of cool and/or hip and trendy fans gathered to see Elvis Costello, the Ultimate Nerd, last Friday at the Tower.
Costello, whose real name is Delcan Patrick McManus, is a musician, singer, and songwriter with a rather interesting past.
Costello is originally from England, and his father was a trumpet player and singer in a jazz band. Elvis quit school when he was 16 and worked as a computer programmer at a cosmetics factory in Liverpool.
At the age of 19, Costello was married and had a son. For a while he fronted a band using the name D. P. Costello.
At one time, Costello was a roadie for Brinsley Schwarz, whose band featured Nick Lowe on bass. Lowe is currently Costello's producer. Brinsley Schwarz currently plays guitar for "Graham Parker and The Rumour."
Thursday, January 29th was a night to be remembered. It was the first of two nights that " Elvis Costello and the Attractions" performed at the Tower Theatre.
It was strange to see just four musicians scattered across a comparatively enormous stage. At most new music clubs, the band is squeezed into a minute space. Possibly that type of atmosphere would have better served Costello and his fans, because his stage presence depends more on facial gesture than body movement. Although his lyrics are powerful, it was hard to distinguish any key phrases in his crooning. As it is hard to lip read beyond the first few rows, the words were lost unless one knew the song.
But Costello has adapted himself to a worshiping audience. He said, "Thank you," and came back for two (planned) encores, with only one small jibe about the B-52's. This is the jerk who used to sneeringly ignore the audience's existence. Maybe he's mellowing. Or more commercially sophisticated.
The audience also behaved differently than was wont for concerts at the Tower. It used to be one left imagining one had become a thai stick. For Costello, more people were smoking Cloves than dope. The concert goers even made an attempt at being energetic. But if most of the audience was miraculously able to stand throughout the concert, the knowledge of seats and people, front, back and sides, discouraged any major physical reaction to the music.
Costello played none of the tunes Linda Ronstadt mangled, and concentrated on his newer material, with a few old favorites. In the middle of "Watching the Detectives" during the encore, he suddenly bopped into a bit. of Stevie Wonder's "Master Blaster."
After the show Lee Paris ("Hey hey hey"), of WXPN's "Yesterday's Now Music Today," was handing out free passes to see "Science Fiction," a local band, at Omni's, 9th and Chestnut. Yes, how reassuring — a frenetically blase band, filling up the 4 x 6 stage with energy, with too many people stepping on each others toes, and smoking joints like cigarettes.