Costello is coming! Costello is coming! Yes, that's right folks, the one and only Elvis Costello will be appearing in a solo performance in our very own Frank Ritter Memorial Ice Arena.
To what, one might ask, do we owe this pleasure. Luck. As chance would have it, this performer happened to have April 20 open in his calendar and with the perseverance of our College Activities Board Concert Committee, he has agreed to perform.
One might ask, "Why all the dramatic build up for a solo concert in the ice arena?" The answer is this is not just another show. This is Elvis Costello.
Elvis Costello broke into the music scene in 1977. His first release was entitled My Aim Is True and is a classic in its own right. Songs such as "Alison," "Watching the Detectives," "Red Shoes" and "Welcome To My Working Week," just to name several, were on this disk.
From that point on, Elvis Costello was something of an oddity. Looking like a menacing wimp with his oversized glasses on the tip of his nose and his pigeon-toed gait on stage, fans and critics had begun the realization that this was no ordinary performer.
One of his first American appearances was on Saturday Night Live. When Saturday Night Live's musical guest appeared onstage, viewers at home and in the studio were not sure if this was another spoof of the live comedy series or if this in fact was for real.
The NBC crew found out just how real he was when at the last minute he decided to change one of the songs he was to play on the show. Needless to say the camera and lighting people did not know which way to turn as they had rehearsed the cues for the song that Elvis had just bagged. NBC promised he would never appear on their network again. Not until he appeared on Tom Snyder's late night talkshow, three years ago, was he seen on television.
Controversy seemed to follow Elvis wherever he went. His name popped up in the music press when he had a barroom brawl with Bonnie Bramlett and her band after making a reputed racial slur about James Brown calling him an ignorant nigger. Regardless of the actual circumstances of the incident. Costello's name was not exactly sending thrills up and down the spines of the record executives or the critics.
He had attained a reputation for rudeness and insolence and that label still sticks today, but it is dearly evident that he has changed his ways in many respects.
In his earlier days, he was an angry young man with a biting lyrical tongue that would wilt flowers. His songs are very topical and precise, yet the mastery he has with the rhyme and pen is uncanny. To call Elvis Costello a cynic is like calling grass green.
However, as the years went by he seemed to have mellowed, at least in his outward dealings with the public. No longer did he play to a sold out crowd for 45 minutes and then exit the stage. No longer did he place huge arclights on the top of the stage to shine in the eyes of his fans as he did during his Armed Forces tour.
Still accurate in his words and music, Elvis Costello began to explore. One record had 20 tracks jammed onto it and was called Get Happy. Another release, entitled Almost Blue, was a Country and Western record. In more recent times Elvis has been experimenting with a horn section, strings and keyboard arrangements.
The steady progression that he has made to this point is worthy of praise in that Elvis has been consistent in producing records that not only entertain but elicit a response. He is a performer that deserves reaction.
Elvis Costello's background would not necessarily surprise anyone but it is somewhat interesting to find the roots of someone who is as cynical and yet timely as this artist is.
Born Declan McManus in Scotland, Elvis Costello worked as a computer programmer until music became his career choice. He signed with the Stiff Label in England and is currently on the CBS Columbia label in America.
In a rare interview several years ago, Elvis was quoted as saying, "You have 10 years to make your first record and one year to make your second." Despite his feelings of being rushed to complete more albums, Elvis has truly grown. In many respects he has sharpened his wit, but softened his tongue. More riveting than biting. He has become sophisticated.
Elvis Costello will be playing on April 20, in RIT's Frank Ritter Memorial Ice Arena. Tickets are on sale at the RIT Candy Counter. The performance is a solo with Steve Nieve who is the keyboard player for Costello's back up band, The Attractions. Warming up will be T-Bone Burnett. Don't miss it.