This bill was not only one of the finest triple headers in recent memory, but one of the best shows in R.I. ever, period. The Banzini Bros. unique ability to present up and coming talent in a condusive setting represents a true concern for rock and roll, art, and the starving R.I. audiences.
Arriving two songs into Nick Lowe's set, the Music Man party was immediately taken and we couldn't take our eyes off the stage long enough to find our seats. Once in our seats, we were treated to a truly fun show. Nick Lowe has no flash, per se, but he is a seasoned performer (five years in the pubs with Brinsley Schwarz) and he expels a very natural kind of bouncing energy. He ran through just about his whole album in a machine gun-like fashion but did manage to slip in "JuJu Man" for the great Dave Edmunds (Love Sculpture, "I Hear You Knockin"), his band partner of several years (the band is alternately billed as Nick Lowe/Dave Edmunds & Rockpile). Which brings to mind another facet of Nick Lowe: he must be one hell of a nice guy. His relationships with ex-Brinsleys, now Rumour members, Elvis, and Edmunds bring to mind a sort of family approach to rock missing since Motown moved to LA and Don Kirshner moved out of the Brill Building. My only complaints with this portion of the show are that due to the triple bill, he couldn't have an encore (a definite and well deserved one at that) and that Edmunds guitar was mixed down too far on his solos. We spoke with Nick briefly after his set, but he was unable to give us an interview as he was headed straight for the Bottom Line in NYC. This could be an important date tor him and I don t see why with hits in the UK and Japan it can't happen here.
Willie DeVille is a true "teen idol" in the grand old tradition. He is Springsteen's "Spanish Johnny" gone rock and roll. The music is heavy on the dramatic and dynamic elements of 50's R&B ballads, (notably "Guardian Angel") but the core is very strong. This is no nostalgia band. All the theatrics are there, but the authenticity is preserved. One doesn't question or feel embarrassed when Willie strikes a pose or falls to knees at the climax of a tune — it is quite believable. His voice is the perfect vehicle for their sound, and his presence is an extension of that, not an affection.
Mink DeVille was so hot that they might have stolen the show if Elvis hadn't outdone himself.
The key word for Elvis Costello and the Attractions that night was "ENERGY." The band literally flew onto the stage, grabbed their instruments, and didn't stop until they flew off at the end of the encore. Even during the ballads, ("Allison," and a new tune "Party Girl") there was a beautiful tension. Elvis seemed more confident and less defensive since his last R.I. appearance in February. He seemed to sense that he "held us right in his hand." During the final song, "Radio, Radio" he commanded "I want to see you up!" The crowd rose and remained on their feet through the encore "I'm Not Angry," and for at least 15 minutes after it was obvious that there would be no more music, and even after it was announced by a nervous stage hand that Elvis had left the building. I have never witnessed an ovation like it anywhere before. It left one with the "sneaky feeling" that this strange little man could really take over.