Y'know, for a buncha stiffs, these guys sure put on one helluva LIVE show. Judging by the exceptionally high standards of musicianship displayed by all three bands, I can safely say that Stiff Records have well and truly cracked it.
First on was Elvis Costello, and let me say that if this guy ain't the Next Big Thing then there's an awful lot to be desired as far as brains go with regard to the general record buying public.
This man is highly talented and a genius, a fact which his My Aim Is True LP bears out admirably. The hype goes: "there are only two Elvis: one is fat and famous, the other is small and languishes in obscurity." Well, I dunno about him being small, but Elvis Costello can certainly no longer "languish in obscurity" with talent as rare as his.
His backing band are no mean animal either, and comprise Pete Thomas on drums, Bruce Thomas (no relation) on bass, and Steven Young on keyboards. Now, I don't know what kind of love-life our Elvis has been leading, but if his lyrics are anything to go by, he sure has had a hard time. He's got this complex which dwells upon his various inadequacies as a person, and this comes out in songs such as "Miracle Man" and "Mystery Dance." He's nothing if not candid about it, either.
There's a sinister side to his songwriting, too, as may be found in "Watching The Detectives," for example, with love quickly turning to murder for the characters in his song. He's not so much cynical towards love, rather he's just sorrowful that it never seems to go right for him. Still, better to have loved and lost...
Those of us who were sorry to see Elvis finish his set were doubtless overjoyed to see him return as part of Nick Lowe's Band, straight afterwards, a line-up which also boasted arch-hippie Larry Wallis, on guitar, but he was pretty low down in the mix to make any real impression.
For some reason, the Lowe Band were on stage for a mere ten minutes, which can't have made them many friends but then again, their music can't have made them any enemies either. The three songs we were treated to were all first-class, namely the oddly titled "Shake And Pop," the autobiographical "Music For Money" and the dreamy "Endless Sleep." But I think we deserve a bit more next time eh boys?
Now, whatever unrest may exist in the respective camps of Lowe and Edmunds, everything seemed just fine tonight, with Nick Lowe jamming along with his former colleagues Edmunds, Billy Bremner and Terry Williams as if the regrettable Swan Song affair has never taken place.
Eric's roof was well and truly brought down by some real bona fide rock (pile) 'n' roll, and I am now convinced that Dave Edmunds is one of THE R&R guitarists of all time (and he's doing it NOW instead of THEN), and Rockpile are one of the best, yet sorely under-rated, rock bands this boring country has got.
Songs such as Lowe's "I Knew The Bride" and "Heart Of The City," Graham Parker's "Back To School Days," "I Hear You Knockin," "Mess Of Blues" and "Ju Ju Man" were all performed with relentless energy and amphetamine overdrive, and it all seemed so natural and easy, y'know? Like, Nick Lowe belongs in this band, he really does. He's part of it. His leaving is like someone getting an arm or leg cut off. It's gonna cripple Rockpile if they're not careful, which'd be a real shame. I can only hope Nick Lowe thinks better of his decision — I haven't enjoyed a concert as much in AGES.