There may be no such thing as the perfect rock concert but Saturday night's first of three consecutive evenings with Elvis Costello and Squeeze at the Palladium was as close as one could get.
Opening act Squeeze is one of the finest makers of melody in Britain today. Consisting of Glenn Tilbrook on lead guitar and vocals, John Bentley on bass and vocals, Chris Difford on rhythm guitar and vocals, Gilson Lavis on drums and Paul Carrack on keyboards (replacing Jools Holland), the group turned in a wonderfully quirky set.
The Squeeze sound is pop at its most eclectic; ranging in scope from the keyboard rocker "Farfisa Beat" to the brooding "I Think I'm Go Go" and the bleary-eyed "Another Nail in My Heart." The accent is on hummable, danceable hooks underscored by Tilbrook's laconic, crystal clear vocalizing and the group's ever churning rhythm work. The lyrics are cynical without being snide, topical without being torpid.
Headlining, Elvis Costello gave new meaning to the word charisma. Looking like a well dressed chemistry student, the short haired, bespectacled Mr. C. turned in a peerless performance.
The possessor of a breathless vocal delivery replete with staccato mannerisms, Costello is equally at home warbling Bo Diddleyesque tunes like "Lovers Walk" as he is slow, almost painful narratives such as "Shot by His Own Gun."
Backed by the Attractions, an amazingly fullsome trio consisting of Steve Nieve on keyboards, Bruce Thomas on bass and Pete Thomas on drums, Costello performed most of his best known tunes including "Allison," "Radio, Radio" and "This Year's Girl."
Everything about Costello in concert is distinctive, his physical presence being almost a