New Musical Express, May 13, 1989

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Getting high on E

Elvis Costello / London Palladium

Barbara Ellen

Everybody has their heroes and Elvis Costello has long been one of mine. This being the first of his Month of Sundays Costello stalks the Palladium stage, performing a mad and remarkable solo set (if you don't count the brief porcelain duet with Nick Lowe) only to halt it halfway through to pick up a nearby pitchfork and send a nylon werewolf into the audience to "capture" volunteers. It proves a successful, albeit roundabout method of harvesting Audience Requests, with most of the audience hoping to Christ they're not selected by the synthetic monster and people like me yelling "Over here Mr Wolf!!! Over here!!!"

In fact, it is only the fear of pregnancy and/or arrest that has kept me in my seat this far. Costello must be over 40 feet away but to my diseased mind he is sat on my knee, giggling cryptic obscenities in my ear.

Like all mad Costello fans, I dream he is singing for me, writing for me, existing for me, I dream he is mine!!!

Costello is smart. He knows we love him. He knows how many nights we've spent wailing away to his albums, how many lyrics we've misinterpreted with a simpleton's glee. What he doesn't know is that tonight I've got a bad case of the "Mark-Chapmans" "ELV!..." I mutter with disgusting familiarity as he glides through "Radio Sweetheart," "Shipbuilding," "Almost Blue," "Accidents Will Happen" and almost every song on the new album Spike with that magical, almost sensual accuracy; his cracked, cloudy Liverpudlian accent only making matters worse.

"ELV!, I breathe, as tonning through a stunning 2-second guitar solo Costello scores another First for "New-Wave."

"ELV!..." I whimper, afraid for him now — "Stop before it is too late.,. YOU ARE TOO PERFECT TO LIVE!..."

Those closest to me take in my cape, my electric blue body stocking with the felt 'E' sewn on the front, the fact that my knickers are worn over my tights and breathe a sigh of relief. I am, after all just one of Costello's many SUPERFANS in this bad looking cake of a Variety Hall, the only dangerous thing about any of us being our vile capacity for bursting into song, drowning out 'ELV', and loosening the stuff that looks like icing rimming the ceiling.

Costello himself acts the cool mother. Very naked, casual and soft. As if plucking requests from a knowledgeable SUPERFAN audience for over three hours... coping, joking and teasing... creating such a lightning "buzz" that our only collective ambition in life is to secure ANOTHER encore...

As if doing all... this... takes nothing, amounts to nothing, is not very hard at all.

The way Costello is tonight it comes across as almost a neat accident... only then you remember the years of work, the mountain of vinyl, the way he spat out "Tramp the Dirt Down" at the end and it all becomes clearer.

Accidents can happen but never like this.

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New Musical Express, May 13, 1989

Barbara Ellen reviews Elvis Costello, solo, Sunday, May 7, 1989, Palladium, London, England.

A full page ad for "Baby Plays Around" runs on page 15.


1989-05-13 New Musical Express page 43 clipping 01.jpg

Ad for "Baby Plays Around."
1989-05-13 New Musical Express page 15 advertisement.jpg

1989-05-13 New Musical Express cover.jpg


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