SUNY Buffalo Spectrum, March 10, 1978

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Costello had them dancing on the tables

Terence Kenny

Last Saturday night a metamorphosis occurred; Buffalo's musical audience are no longer sedentary, but now majestically changed into new wave rockers. Moot Hall at Buff State College (a creation of the modern world) had the necessary conditions to effect the change. Elvis Costello is the newest man with the conflation of charisma and easy to learn — easy to play musical capabilities.

The newly proclaimed King has come to his moniker of his own accord. There's no need for spin offs on Presley's recent death. What we have here is simply a former computer programmer who has always had rock and roll dribbling from his lips and vacant gazes on his bespectacled face. Together with his band the Attractions, he compels his audiences to react And if they don't, he does.

Three weeks ago at Brockport State Elvis and company walked off after putting their best into 45 minutes of danceable music. Calling the crowd "fuckin dull detectives" as he knocked over the mikes, Elvis displayed the new wave ultimatum. If you want to see me play I want to see you dance. Unfortunately there was no dancing in Brockport.

As the King noticed things were different here in the Queen City. As both shows were sold out . at $4.50 a clip, Costello knew ahead of time that an interested crowd awaited him. The drinks were flowing when suddenly, unannounced Elvis took the stage decked out in a two piece Korvettesque suit with matching working week shirt. Elvis started off in full force with "Mystery Dance" from his premiere album My Aim Is True, a track that could make any inquisitive octogenarian tap his feet. The crowd just stared in awe. What was before them, Poindexter with a Fender backed by the Standells? The tunes cranked and sure enough everyone was tapping the tables as Elvis confessed "I can't do it anymore and I'm satisfied."

Without hesitation the band went into "Waiting For The End Of The World", one of the most powerful songs on the disco. At this point the waitresses could no longer weasel through the throbbing crowd. The fortunate ones at the front tables pounded rhythmic fists, wanting drinks.

The band sounded like Question Mark and the Mysterians with college educations. Elvis slashed out basic chords accompanied by curious ominous lyrics and the mob not only bopped but listened. Can this so called new wave music be influencing people? It is time to wake up, this is what is the masses need; laughing and dancing to rock and roll music. Within 15 minutes everyone in the crowd who had ever heard his album was singing along, while the newcomers cupped their ears to listen.

Janet takes her clothes off in succession
While her husband rides a bumper in the
president's procession
She sees him on the screen as she looks up
from givin' head
Pistol was still smoking as the man lay on the floor
Mr. Oswald had an understanding with the law...
Everything means less than zero

The crowd grew more frantic as Elvis began what is probably his most well-known tune, "Watching the Detectives." The lyrics are grim.

They beat him up until the teardrops start
But he can't be wounded cause he's got no heart...
She's filing her nails while they're dragging the lake.

Proclaiming that the affair looked like a "kiddies tea party," he told the audience to "throw off the table cloths and get on the fuckin' tables." As the band played "Pump It Up," the tables were bending towards dangerous dimensions.

Costello's tunes have an eerie mid-sixties appeal making them memorable. Unlike the fervent cries of Johnny Rotten and the pistols, Elvis' tunes are hummable. This makes them accessible commodity to all music listeners, and will ensure him the vital necessity to promote success: airplay.

Elvis doesn't blurt out cliches, so lets hope the media doesn't coin a few for him. After all Elvis Costello is a contemporary and very marketable performer. Evidence of this is CBS's purchasing of the distribution rights to his albums from Stiff records. It is now becoming evident to the record buying public and to a few less wax encrusted disc jockeys that new wave does not mean punk rock and for that matter punk doesn't necessarily mean awful.

His soon to be released album on CBS Records, entitled This Year's Model and produced by Nick Lowe, should ensure Costello's place on progressive FM stations. Only time will tell how many of his tunes will accompany AM radio rides to the beach.

Knowing the crowd appreciated a good thing when it heard it, Elvis brought out his producer Nick Lowe and a member of Graham Parker's Band, Martin Belmont. The stage was packed as Lowe led the troupe through three numbers from his forthcoming album Power Pop for Pure People. The track "Breaking Glass" was the tour deforce, a full stage playing to a dancing full house. This extra added attraction was a definite treat; Costello and Lowe are hot items in London studios besides being among the first to pump out the first gushes of new wave rock.

The success Elvis had during the first show was repeated during the second. Again the crowd booed and gaped but it took much longer for Elvis to get them dancing. He had to resort to getting on the tables himself but there weren't many takers. Maybe it was due to the group of wankers that threw their cups of ice (lacking the savoir faire to throw a full drink) at anyone who obstructed their view. Despite the propellants, ravaged lovers of good fun danced their asses off. As for which show was better it's hard to decide; the first had the people on the tables, the second had the performer.

Opening for both shows was Willy Alexander and the Boom Boom Band a pack of Boston no goodnicks with a penchant for ruining great songs. Their rendition of "You've lost that loving feeling" attests to that. Lead singer Willy brandished a leopard jacket and magic markered arms. But still the charm of a polished act was lacking, maybe the Boom Booms should go back to Bean town and tune up a bit. There is a spark of hope in their act but if they keep opening for show stoppers like Elvis Costello I doubt anyone will remember them.


The Spectrum, March 10, 1978

Terence Kenny reviews Elvis Costello & The Attractions and guests Nick Lowe and Martin Belmont and opening act Willie Alexander, Saturday, March 4, 1978, Moot Hall, Buffalo State College, Buffalo, NY.


1978-03-10 SUNY Buffalo Spectrum page 11.jpg
Page scan.

Photos by Pam Jenson.
1978-03-10 SUNY Buffalo Spectrum photo 01 pj.jpg

1978-03-10 SUNY Buffalo Spectrum photo 02 pj.jpg

1978-03-10 SUNY Buffalo Spectrum photo 03 pj.jpg
Photos by Pam Jenson.


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