Record Mirror, October 4, 1980

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Record Mirror

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El's bells

Elvis Costello / Stray Cats / Rainbow, London

Mike Nicholls

A cute double-hander, a match made somewhere over the Rainbow, you might say. On one level both acts are hip, the Stray Cats' ersatz rockabilly dove-tailing neatly with Costello's continued cut-and-paste approach.

Whereas the Cats limit themselves to resurrecting a bygone age, Elvis dissect his influences and subtley re-assembles according to what he's into at the time. With a third of the set comprising new material, there are two possible directions for his next vinyl assault:

A side-step into classic sixties pop — "You'll Never Be A Man" was a dead ringer for Cilla Black's "Anyone Who Had A Heart" — or the heavy drum sound most recently defined by such habitues of New York's Power Station studios as Bowie, Springsteen and Roxy.

After the unusual intro of Elvis strumming over some solemn Steve Naive keyboard figures, some of the numbers were despatched with almost indecent haste. "The Beat" and "Temptation" maintained the lunatic pace set by "Luxembourg," the ferocious tightness of the band and Costello's good humour evidently a tribute to their recent lay off.

But it was with "Big Tears" that he at last showed he's the committed performer his records have always hinted at and from that point the show took off with a vengeance generally reserved for the victims of his songs.

The new "From A Whisper To A Scream" was an object lesson in optimism, full of zest and very punchy, whilst "Watching The Detectives," as ever, was a complete pulveriser, the sharp guitar and keyboard interplay cutting to the quick.

As if all this wasn't enough, he whacked out four encores which embraced swipes at Dexy's and The Jags! Altogether a fine 50th anniversary bash. The Stray Cats played with confidence and looked great but made everything sound the same. The Attractions have never gelled better and even those in two minds about Get Happy will have agreed he practiced as he preached.

The boy looked happy, the band played happy and the show was enough to restore anyone's faith in that tired old beast called rock 'n' roll. Amen.

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Record Mirror, October 4, 1980


Mike Nicholls reviews Elvis Costello & The Attractions and opening act Stray Cats, Monday, September 29, 1980, Rainbow Theatre, London.

Images

1980-10-04 Record Mirror page 32 clipping 01.jpg
Clipping.

Photo by Denis O'Regan.
1980-10-04 Record Mirror photo 01 do.jpg


1980-10-04 Record Mirror cover.jpg 1980-10-04 Record Mirror page 32.jpg
Cover and page scan.

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