"If I were you I'd ask for my money back," growled Elvis Costello, midway through his set. The bespectacled 'Beloved Entertainer' found himself that evening, in a football stadium on the outskirts of Milan, addressing a thinly scattered and very distant crowd of young Italians.
It was hoped that 'Monza Rock '89' would be the pop festival to put Milan on the map, gradually become an annual event along the lines of Montreux. Opposing local councils and rival promoters thought otherwise and alas it was not to be. Publicity was sparse, expected ticket sales were halved and the unfortunate punters that arrived were banned from the sacred pitch, leaving them miles from the stage.
You can appreciate then why Mr Costello was just a tad disappointed. He, however, was far from disappointing. Appearing without a backing band, sporting a dark suit and a diamante brooch where his tie should be, he resembled an extremely profitable busker.
Elvis opened the proceedings with "Blood And Chocolate," playing along to an eerie backing track of screams, bass and drums. From then on it was pure acoustic joy as the man plucked songs from his past, mixed them with songs from the current album Spike and sung his heart out.
Tanita Tikaram (or is it Tantrum?) enjoys great popularity in Italy. However, this cannot have been strengthened by her performance in Milan. Moody and out of tune, she croaked her way through her mediocre songs with all the stage presence of a bowl of cold lasagne. Constantly pushing her hair back over her face and seldom opening her eyes, she seemed very nervous, only coming to life when she said "Goodbye and thank you".
One Nation were thankfully a very different story. They pumped out their powerful mid-Atlantic soul with energy, enthusiasm and humour. Their set was peppered with catchy tunes ranging from the single "What You See Is What You Get" and the very danceable "Strong Enough" to the touching vocals of the love song "This Is Different." Kipper, the lead singer, has a very soulful voice, which definitely helped to ease the crowd's pain of parting with all those Lire.