Star Hits, July 1984

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Star Hits
  • 1984 July

US rock magazines


Elvis Costello

Avery Fisher Hall, New York

David Fricke

Without the Attractions behind him pumping it up at full throttle, Elvis Costello looked like a very lonely man on the vast stage of New York's stately Avery Fisher Hall. "I'd like to introduce my band for the evening," he joked at one point, "Elvis Costello and His Guitars." And that's all he had — half a dozen acoustic and electric guitars with an electric piano and a concert grand that's probably heard more Chopin than Costello.

And still he sang with the emotional heat and deep blue soul that has made him one of contemporary pop's most convincing singer-songwriters. Maybe he felt he had to summon up that much more fire to compensate for the lack of Attractions. But there was nothing contrived about the way he sang country barroom laments like "Stranger in the House" or romped through the rockin' nugget "Girls Talk," pushing his voice to tortured extremes one minute, raising it in a bluesy hosanna the next.

This was also a nice way to hear new songs before they got the full Attractions treatment. "Worthless Thing," a wicked shot at the music business, may be his most acidic song yet, practically corrosive in its stark acoustic setting. By contrast, "Peace in Our Time" sounded almost like a prayer, uncompromising in tone yet anxious in its pleading for good sense in the halls of power.

It was also a nice way to hear opening act T Bone Burnett — the lanky Texan whose Proof Through the Night was one of '83's truly great LPs — showcase some of his quirky yet moving material. Just as Costello took a crack at Bob Dylan's "I Threw It All Away" for his encore, Burnett sang tunes like "The Murder Weapon" and "Fatally Beautiful" in a familiar whine that makes you wonder why the folk boom ever went away.

Tags: Avery Fisher HallNew YorkT Bone BurnettStranger In The HouseGirls TalkWorthless ThingPeace In Our TimeI Threw It All AwayBob DylanThe Attractions


Star Hits, July 1984

David Fricke reviews Elvis Costello and opening act T Bone Burnett, Sunday, April 15, 1984, Avery Fisher Hall, New York.


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Page scan.

Photo by Stephanie Chernikowski.
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Cover and contents page.
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