SUNY Brockport Stylus, February 22, 1978

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Elvis Costello and the royal scam


Steve Walker

It would be a safe bet to say that Elvis Costello lost more friends than he gained during his near hour-long performance last Saturday night in the Ballroom.

Costello, who is something of a mystery man to say the least, seemed to hold the sell-out crowd of 800 responsible for inspiring him to perform. However the crowd seemed to feel that Costello should create the excitement, after all, that's the way it is supposed to be. Right?

The show opened on a most dismal note thanks to Willie Alexander and the Boom-Boom Band. This band provided a boring hour of hard-rock, rhythm and blues and punk fusion music which gained little or no approval from the Brockport audience.

To its credit, the audience watched patiently as Willie Alexander spewed incoherent lyrics and teased them with his punkish stage show.

Alexander, complete with felt-pen tattoos and a rubber shark attached to his jeans, attempted to win the audience with sexual attacks on his microphone stand. But the crowd which was much more sophisticated than Willie Alexander and his Boom-Boom Band, responded with more boos than applause.

When the opening set came to a close, the audience booed loud enough to prompt Alexander to thank them with an extended middle finger.

Backstage after the show, Alexander wanted to apologize to the few people who did like his set.

"We are playing reborn rock and roll," said Alexander.

If this is the case, obviously Brockport isn't ready for the rebirth. Alexander seemed puzzled by the audiences failure to respond to his repulsive performance.

"Elvis Costello is going to go out there and piss all over them and they will love it," said Alexander bitterly.

Alexander proved to be at least half right in his foresight toward Costello's performance.

Certainly Costello did perform something of a "golden shower" on Brockport, but Brockport didn't seem to appreciate the gesture.

Costello took the stage to a warm response from the sellout crowd which had come to hear his commercially oriented 1950's music and 1970's social commentary lyrics.

The band whipped it's way through a non-stop, high energy medley of "Mystery Train," "Waiting For The End Of The World," "Welcome to The Working Week" and "Less Than Zero," all from his debut album My Aim Is True.

After the energetic opening set, the audience seemed primed for an enjoyable, exciting evening of updated "pure" rock and roll.

However, Costello temporarily lost the groove when he unloaded a string of newer songs which seemed most detached from his catchy lyrics and commercial guitar licks which fill the My Aim Is True album. These new songs are bitter toward the world and Costello seemed to think that the type of people watching his show were also responsible for making the world the way that it is.

Costello, who up until this point showed an absolutely emotionless face, was beginning to show signs of anger. Following the somewhat disappointing set of new material, the audience gave him a very subdued lukewarm response.

"C'mon wake up," responded Costello.

Costello delighted the crowd by breaking into the popular, "Watching The Detectives." During this song, a heckler in the second row seemed to get to Costello. Costello reacted by carefully removing his "mike" from its stand and picking up the stand and carrying it to the edge of the stage.

Meanwhile the unidentified student continued to taunt Costello. Costello stared at the student, indicating that he might be willing to accept the students offer to fight.

Tension was quite evident upfront as SAB security guards readied themselves for a possible confrontation between the student and Costello.

According to several sources, whom had seen Costello perform in the past, this wasn't part of the show and Costello seemed to be really upset.

His anger didn't diminish during the next song, "You Bother Me." This song and the show ended abruptly when Costello broke a guitar string.

The audience sat stunned and perhaps felt as this reporter did, that they were the victims of a royal scam.

Costello had played less than an hour and showed little or no appreciation for the 800 people who bought tickets and perhaps many who had paid at least five dollars to obtain his album.

Elvis Costello seems to think that we need him more than he needs us. There is no evidence to contradict the fact that he hates you and that the people who make his world a sorry place to live are you.

Columbia Records did a nice job of hiding the fact that Elvis Costello is nothing more than an angry young punk rocker on his debut album. And you are the victim of it all. Remember that when his next album or concert comes to town.

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The Stylus, February 22, 1978


Steven Walker reviews Elvis Costello & The Attractions and opening act Willie Alexander, Saturday, February 18, 1978, Union Ballroom, SUNY, Brockport, NY.

Images

1978-02-22 SUNY Brockport Stylus page 21.jpg
Page scan.

Photo by James Manley.
1978-02-22 SUNY Brockport Stylus photo 01 jm.jpg


The non-interview


Steve Walker

Saturday afternoon and evening were most trying times for perspective journalists and photographers at Brockport.

All any of us wanted was the opportunity to enlighten the college community as to what makes Elvis Costello tick. Since we support the man through ticket and record purchases, it would seem that the least he could do was give us a few moments of his time.

But we were denied the chance and made to feel that our work was a useless waste of time.

Costello's road manager was heard saying, "People who read newspapers aren't worth reaching," obviously referring to you.

The road manager, who acted like a resident student at the Gestapo Training Institute was to say the least a major "pain" for anyone connected with the evenings program.

He was the person you saw smashing the Stylus photographer's film during the show.

A half-hour after the show this reporter stationed himself directly in front of the Costello dressing room. They had to come out sometime. Finally Costello and his manager exited the room.

"Hello Elvis," I said.

There was no response but a glaring look from the manager. I returned the look with gritted teeth, obviously satisfied with my chances against the two of them had they chosen to get physical.

A few moments later the bass and organ players came out of the room. "Can you guys talk?," I asked, in a voice similar to the one I would use if I were talking with aliens from another planet.

The organ player responded "Yea I can talk, but it's not worth it."

"It's not worth it," I shot back in defense of my potential profession.

Then he tried to slam one of those non-slammable doors in my face.

A few hours later I walked into the Barge Inn and noticed a picture of a person hanging on the wall behind the bar. The picture was of Elvis Costello and it had a knife lodged into it.


Photo by James Manley.
1978-02-22 SUNY Brockport Stylus photo 02 jm.jpg


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