When feminists meet sexists in hand to hand combat, it would seem the former are outmatched.
Last night's Elvis Costello concert at Theatre St. Denis descended into a near riot as police arrested 40 demonstrators protesting the appearance of the group "Wives," performing as Costello's opening act.
The Toronto punk band had just shortened its name from "Battered Wives," bowing to pressure from women's organizations who claim the band's name and music is offensive to women.
An hour before the 8.30 p.m. concert, about 200 men and women gathered at the door of the theatre. blocking the entrance and chanting "battered wives don't make music" and "against violence, against women."
As police were loading demonstrators into paddy wagons, the Wives' concert was stopped after protesters inside the theatre started throwing eggs and debris at the band. In the dark theatre, beefy security men, hired by impresario Donald K Donald, wrestled people through the aisles and into the hands of police.
There is no official word on how many people were injured during the turmoil. Police say the demonstrators were taken to Station 33 and later released. Charges are pending.
Tempers cooled when Costello and his band The Attractions took the stage.
Costello, looking like a cross between Woody Allen and Buddy Holly, plays a fevered brand of rock, a plaintive wailing propelled by a "bash and slap" back-up group.
An ex-computer operator from London, Costello sings of rejection and fatalism, his spiteful lyrics growled out between pounding chords and cracking drums.
The music of both the Wives and Costello is a throwback to the hard hitting groups of the 60s. like the Kinks and the Troggs. Unfortunately, the two modern versions lack both the skill and the style of their predecessors.
Costello orchestrates the cacophony in undersized clothes and stilted movements, his gravelly voice disintegrating easily into a howl.
With words like "I don't want to be your lover. I just want to be your victim," Costello is said to be the saviour of the alienated and the apostle of the disenfranchised. But his pathetic poetry and grinding, repetitive music exploits rather than soothes.