Smash Hits caught up with a couple of the many pre-Christmas rock gigs in London to see two of our favourite acts: Elvis Costello at the Dominion Cinema, where he was doing seven consecutive nights, and Ian Dury during his short London tour.
The Dominion is the cinema which seems to have been showing The Sound Of Music for as long as we can remember but Julie Andrews & Co. had been given a rest for the week. Instead a huge billboard of Elvis Costello gazed down Oxford Street from the front of the theatre.
We went to the first night when the sound was far from perfect — it totally ruined American support act, Richard Hell and The Voidoids.
Nevertheless The Attractions are such an excellent band that some sound-loss on Elvis' vocals didn't detract from their so-stylish performance. The sophisticated stage lighting was also in a class of its own.
With two fine albums behind him and a new one imminent, Elvis has an almost unbeatable selection of songs to draw on. Pity though that he no longer does "Alison," our all-time Costello favourite, but interesting that he opens his act with "Peace, Love And Understanding." This is the Nick Lowe song which Elvis sings on the B-side of Lowe's current single.
Salford's new wave poet John Cooper Clarke opened the show. Totally unaccompanied on the large stage, he looked like he'd die the death, but instead was a revelation. He was great, though it'll be interesting to see if he continues to win audiences over so easily now that the whole package is out on tour of the U.K.
Catch 'em at your local flea-pit. They're touring 'till the end of January.
John Cooper Clarke also featured in the Ian Dury shows, courtesy of the Alberto Y Los Trios Paranoias, the support group. C. P. Lee of the Albertos does a very funny send-up of Cooper Clarke, the band also do a savage one of Ian Dury.
Ian Dury and The Blockheads, appearing at Ilford, Essex (Dury's home turf), on the last date of their tour, were just magnificent.
Down at the foot of the stage the audience was so enthusiastic that they pounded and pogo-ed their way clean through the floor! For the rest of the set, a ring of bouncers held the dancing crowd back from the gaping hole and the basement below.
Like Elvis' Attractions, The Blockheads are a superbly polished band, with sax player Davey Payne outstanding. As for Ian Dury, he's a picture of a man on the ascendant, full of confidence in his ability. Success couldn't have happened to a less-likely but more-deserving character.