Sounds, February 10, 1979

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Sounds

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An exercise in calculation


Garry Bushell

Elvis Costello And the Attractions
Richard Hell And The Voidoids
John Cooper Clarke
Hammersmith Palais

The hipper amongst my colleagues reckoned Elvis blew it tonight and Richard Hell made it all worthwhile. Perverse little bleeder that I am, I hated Hell and enjoyed El. Fact is the only thing that bothered me overmuch was the presence in the audience of large numbers of people with broken limbs. Not all journalists, surely.

Walking dip-stick Johnny No Hyphen Clarke, resplendent in red blazer and leather railway guides, began with a hot haranguing of old faves, poems with a more discernable story line "Kung Fu," "Salome Malone") making more impact than the more stream-of-images offerings.

Newie "Twat" was an instant success that should have been dedicated to Richard Hell: "Like a recently disinfected toilet you're clean round the bend... you're like a dose of scabies, I've got you under my skin... I'd consider killing you if I thought you were alive... speaking as an outsider what d'you think of the human race?" Pure abuse. Luvly.

Clark is clever, sharp and enough of a stand up comedian to make instant connections at any level of appreciation. Personally though, I'd like him to put his idea of a two section show — one with a band, one without — into practice. Variety is the spice of life, m'dears.

Helloid on the other hand is, well I s'pose he's [aprrox. 14 unreadable words here] but on the whole cuts it on the big so-what scale. He interviews well but livesville I kin take him or leave him each time.

Costello I can take — warts an' all — till the cows cometh home. It's the last UK gig for some time tonight and he's chirpy. Almost talkative. And miles away. Lots and lots of white men and women in 'Ammersmith Palais and I'm right at the back, as sold out as the venue. But the, uh, vibes are good, better than the pre-Xmas gigs.

"Goon Squad" kicks off, the sound is good and the band on form and watchable — Steve's animated and Elvis sports a jacket based on one of J. Jackson's ties but we won't hold that against him.

Calculation was the show's keynote, as inexorably the set built up to the stage managed encores. OK, so near the beginning it sagged slightly, but from the poppy uptempo newie "Opportunity" onwards it worked. Onwards through the magnificent "Green Shirt," "Two Little Hitters," "Lipstick Vogue," "Detectives," onwards through more Armed Forces to the mighty "Oliver's Army" and if that's not Top Five...

They're off. We cheer. They're on with Martin Belmont from The Rumour for group intros and "Pump It Up." They're off. We cheer. They're on with Dave Edmunds for "Mystery Dance" (and not — as some drunken hacks claimed — Van Morrison at all). They're off. We cheer. They're on for "Chelsea," and "Peace Love And Understanding" (not funny, El, just sad that they don't work). The end.

A calculated triumph from a Costello camp rife with calculations — the next single, the next album, the films, America. It's like a chess game. We're the pawns and Costello slowly but surely moves towards End Game.

When my wife demands to come to a gig you know that the move from [aprrox. eight unreadable words here] of time.

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Sounds, February 10, 1979


Garry Bushell reviews Elvis Costello & The Attractions, Richard Hell & The Voidoids and John Cooper Clarke, Tuesday, January 30, 1979, Hammersmith Palais, London, England.

Images

1979-02-10 Sounds clipping 01.jpg
Clipping.

1979-02-10 Sounds cover.jpg
Cover.

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