New Musical Express, January 7, 1978

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NME

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Night of the epileptics

Elvis Costello, The Pop Group / The Nashville

Kim Davis

Christmas Eve at The Nashville Rooms, a beery, boozy, affable crowd, everyone intent on getting drunk and having fun.

More hip revellers in the audience than rabid Elvis fans. I spent half an hour wondering why I wasn't at another gig down the road.

Suddenly there's a band on stage to shake all but the merriest out of Christmas contentment and seasonal good humour.

The Pop Group are hypnotic, different, frightening and irresistible.

The singer is a tall, painfully thin pillar of anguish, hands covering his eyes as he howls despair at the sedentary crowd.

Two diminutive guitarists prowl around his feet; the one with ginger hair and freckles croons catchy pop hooks as feedlines for the giant's desperation.

The other stares blankly into space until the climax of the set. Without warning he gyrates into a juddering, twitching solo.

The impact of The Pop Group is comparable to witnessing an epileptic fit or an unexpected fight. You want to turn away but the hideous fascination will not release your eyes.

Cold sweat.

Although we all cimb obediently onto the tables and chairs to play mountain-goats for Costello, the drop in tension is noticeable and depressing.

Fortunately, Elvis and The Attractions play an imaginative and immaculate set, packed with new songs as exciting as the standards.

"Radio Radio," for '70s cruising, and "The Beat" were outstanding, but by far the most unusual number was "I Don't Want To Go To Chelsea."

An extension of the "Watching The Detectives" pop-dub style, the theme builds and the melodies linger over insistent rhythms and curiously Latin-flavoured organ injections.

This isn't big news. No-one seriously doubted the man had more great songs coming and you'll hear them soon enough.

"Mystery Dance" closed the show but The Attractions trundled on Nick Lowe for a "Heart Of The City" encore.

Then a rocker, "Pumping Up" and time to go home.

It was a faultless exhibition of musicianship and material but an imperfect show because Elvis Costello gets a bit boring to look at after 15 minutes.

He does his itchy fingers, snarling spider routine and that's about it.

I enjoyed it because I enjoy his music, but it's the raw emotion of The Pop Group, the nightmare Monkees of tomorrow, that's still nagging my memory.

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New Musical Express, January 7, 1978


Kim Davis reviews Elvis Costello & The Attractions and supporting act The Pop Group, Saturday, December 24, Nashville Rooms, London.


News Desk previews the Spring UK tour.

Images

1978-01-07 New Musical Express photo 01 gs .jpg 1978-01-07 New Musical Express page 03 clipping 01.jpg
Photo by Gus Stewart.


Elvis: Spring tour


News Desk / Derek Johnson

ELVIS COSTELLO and the Attractions will be touring Britain in the spring, Andrew Lauder of Radar Records told NME this week. The exact period in their U.K. trek is dependant upon dates now being lined up for their return visit to America, but it’s likely to be around March or April. Costello and the band are currently in the studios recording the follow-up to their “Watching The Detectives” hit, for release as their first Radar single, probably in February. And, it will be followed soon afterwards by their latest album.


1978-01-07 New Musical Express cover 1.jpg 1978-01-07 New Musical Express page 03.jpg
Cover and page scan.

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