"Angry Punk Rock Fans On The Rampage." A sample of the front page headlines by all the Australian tabloids following incidents during the first five concerts given by Elvis Costello at Sydney's Regent Theatre on Sunday.
The trouble started when the bespectacled one left the stage after a crisp 50-minute set.
Having forked-out 9.50 Australian dollars (£5.50) a ticket, the audience — who had been on their feet for the last three numbers in Costello's set — naturally demanded an encore. They didn't get one. The Beatles began blasting over the house PA — and then came the inflammatory announcement from the promoters that tickets were still on sale for Costello's fourth Sidney show.
This resulted in much booing and renewed chants of "We Want More!"
Costello still didn't return, so people began hurling missiles at the empty stage — first rolled papers and beer cans, then chair covers, and finally rows of seats came crashing down from the balcony onto the stage.
A further announcement was made, insisting that unless everyone left the theatre quietly, there would be no more Costello concerts at all at the Regent. This did absolutely nothing to placate the angry audience. The house lights were turned on in an effort to empty the auditorium, but this resulted in even more rows of seats being destroyed.
Finally on their way out, the jeering audience trashed more seats and glass display cabinets in the foyer, and tore down a banner advertising the concerts. As they spilled into the street which they blocked for almost half-an-hour, the disappointed audience chanted, "What A Rip-Off," "Elvis Sucks" and "Elvis Is A Capitalist."
The police were called, and though no arrests were made, the management of the Regent Theatre are having second thoughts about staging the remainder of Costello's concerts — in particular, a midnight matinee scheduled for Friday.
Many observers have suggested that the whole incident was a ruse, an attempt on the part of Costello's manager Jake Riviera to generate as much publicity as possible from this antipodean tour.
Such rumours prevailed when no comment was forthcoming from Costello. Indeed, his contract stipulated that he was not required to talk to the Australian press. However, the local promoters claim that the reason why Costello didn't return for an encore was that he found the audience reaction "too mechanical," although as far as Aussie rock audiences go, Costello actually played to a most receptive crowd.