Elvis, clad as ever in ill-fitting suit, shirt and tie, clutching at the mike, arms jerking wildly — an earnest, deranged — looking geek burning his way through "(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes." Why so successful? — Cos he writes good songs. Good, powerful, harmonic, sincere songs. Every one a winner.
He played "Waiting For the End of the World." As in the other numbers, nothing detracts from the vocals. No solos, no digressions. The backing is focused down to an exact, balanced support for his spasms of desperate lyrics, varying with his expression, and controlled by the excellent, but unobtrusive, keyboard playing of Steve Naive.
They worked through some different styles — from rock and roll to ballad to the thin, reggae feel of "Watching The Detectives." A longer and more varied version, with Pete Thomas, drums, and Bruce Thomas on bass, fading out to just hint at the rhythm, and Elvis, not very much at ease, letting loose his forceful and emotive vocals.
Last, and best, was "I'm Not Angry," played to an ecstatic audience. A more defiant stance, more sweat, more accusing glares, more harsh, torn guitar chords — always impossible to anticipate his changing moods. It's amazing how compelling his anti-hero image is. I hardly took my eyes off him once in the whole set.
No doubts as to whether Elvis was missed while touring the states. Anyone who returns to play their first gig on borrowed gear, plagued with PA problems, and still get that kind of reception, isn't going to have to start busking in the near future. A truly great and imaginative new musician.