To say The Hot Club was crowded last week would be a gross understatement.
The people were literally pressed against each other waiting for the arrival of Elvis.
When he did strut onto the tiny stage, he broke into music which didn’t stop for more than 20 seconds through the entire hour-plus show.
When he was through there was no doubt that Elvis was alive and well.
Of course the Elvis I’m referring to is not “The King.” However, Elvis Costello may rightfully vie for the title of the “ascendent prince of rock and roll.”
Costello looks like the skinny kid with the thick glasses everyone used to beat up in high school. He holds his guitar like a weapon, and uses it to show all the bullies that despite his looks, he was born to rock and roll.
Outside the crowded Hot Club, hundreds of fans waited patiently for hours in subfreezing temperatures to catch a glimpse of the man being hailed as the most important new musical force of the ’70s.
The concert opened with a forceful version of “The Angels Want To Wear My Red Shoes.” I had no idea what the lyrics meant before the concert, and have even less of an idea now. But the rocking energy was there.
That energy carried the concert with selections from Costello’s debut album My Aim Is True, which should be on everyone’s Christmas list. Elvis and band also performed a handful of new songs which retained the roughshod, unspoiled rock flair which has become the artist’s trademark.
The British born performer is being lumped in with the new wave rockers mostly because of guilt by association. After all, his initial album contract in England was with Stiff Records, which is decidedly punk; he looks like a punk and is playing at punk clubs. But like Robert Gordon (who’s also quite good and even less known), Costello is going to have to live with the title until he breaks out and gets mass audience acceptance. That shouldn’t be long at all.