June 1, Elvis Costello,
Millikan High School, Long Beach
Arriving at Long Beach's Millikan High School after freezing the engine of the Fiat and scrounging up another car, we found the "Screamin' Roadies" band doing a rather long and drawn out soundcheck. The sold-out crowd gathered at the front of the gym, a mixture of Santa Monica surfers and Car Trend mag fans. A motley crew of tattered punks had taken over the steps of the gym and were clustered around a small tape recorder emitting strains of "Blitzkrieg Bop" and "Cretin Hop."
The buffet backstage, supplied by Wolf & Rissmiller, was a sort of Americanized British concoction: Shepherd's pie, truffles, etc. The booze, however, was kept on the tour bus, making it a popular hang-out.
The highlight of the evening's show was Elvis Costello's encore. Consisting of no less than eight songs, this fine repeat performance by the band was perhaps a result of the horrors at the Santa Monica Civic — turned-off amps, fits of rage, broken guitar necks. At the end, he had the crowd in his power, screaming along with the vocals.
After the show, everyone took off for the Pico Bowling Alley in Hollywood where Martin Mull had staged a party for travelling punks. The general consensus was that the party was a dismal — some even said the address was unknown. But Elvis swore he wasn't angry.
June 3, Elvis Costello,
UCSB Robertson Gym
The traffic to UCSB's Robertson Gym was bad from L.A., but we didn't realize how bad until Nick Lowe and Rockpile showed up 45 minutes after their set was to start. The tolerant crowd, consisting of the usual surf Nazi's and scattered punkettes, practically filled the 3200 capacity hall, festival style. While kept in the dark about the status of the evening, the audience was a well-behaved mass, clapping and cheering when the "Screamin' Roadies" band went onstage to do a surprise soundcheck amidst strains of ABBA from the P.A.
The tension backstage increased as the time passed and Rockpile still hadn't showed up. Mink DeVille refused to go on first, possibly leaving Nick Lowe a little time to play before Elvis. (This attitude was typical of the Minks during the whole tour — something about foreign policy, we think.) Tempers were cooled in the dressing room by a lot of Stolichnaya Vodka while everyone dreaded the moment Jake "The Terror" Riviera would appear and yell at anything.
When Nick Lowe and Rockpile finally arrived, it was only a matter of minutes before Mink DeVille went on — but sadly there was not enough time for Nick. Willy DeVille, actor that he is, found himself on stage again, falling to his knees every other line in a somewhat grandiose style.
Things were lightening up in the Costello dressing room after the evening became more stable. The camaraderie was by this time well-rehearsed, and soon the road manager, Des Brown was clearing everybody out and into the hall to see the show.
The hall, being a gym, was or course acoustically imperfect, but Elvis and the attractions made it sound great. Two of our favorite songs of the evening were "Pump It Up" (which got a neato response from the audience) and "Watchin' the Detectives." "Alison" and "(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes" were close runners-up. One of the most attractive parts of the Attractions is keyboardist Steve Naive. For one who is 19-years-old and classically trained, Steve Naive gives "Wurlitzer" a new meaning. His ecstatically smooth style puts the "P" in Power, Punk and Pop. Feeding off the energy of the audience, Elvis played two lengthy encores, ending with a long version of "I'm Not Angry." Everyone left for the Tropicana, exhausted.
June 4, Elvis Costello,
Hollywood High School
The date was Elvis Costello's debutante party. Everyone from the American Graffiti crew (Ron Howard and MacKenzie Phillips) to Linda Ronstadt and the bastard uncle of punk, Neil Diamond, was there. The backstage area was virtually non-existent, which put everyone on edge, especially Jake Riviera. This was the largest backstage party of the west coast tour and most of the guests never saw the dressing room — what a pity.
The evening started out with an exceptional set by Nick Lowe and Rockpile."They Called It Rock" and "Sound of Breaking Glass" stirred and whipped up the crowd to point of panic.
The Minks set was loud and frenzied R&B, creating the optimum atmosphere of anxiety anticipation — for Elvis and the Attractions. When Elvis came on, there was no way the security men could keep the crowd from rushing the stage — it was great. The audience's response to Elvis in turn persuaded him to give them many times their money's worth. Everyone went home happy.
June 5, Nick Lowe,
The June 5th Nick Lowe gig at the Whisky had its two shows sold out and the audiences for both shows were wrapped around the building waiting to get in. Typical of Whisky promo gigs the guest list was almost as big as the paying audience. With Cameron Crowe in line behind us, it was obvious that Jake Riviera had done a job of recruiting now people.
On our way in, we were greeted by a ticket-taking Hollywood star — could it be that is what happens to one-album musicians? Nick Lowe, with several albums to his credit, including the production of the first punk LP Damned, Damned, Damned by the Damned, will undoubtedly never be in the same situation. His show at the Whisky was consistent with the high energy shows as lead-off band for Elvis Costello's recent tour of the U.S.
Lowe's power pop had all the groovy people jumpin' in the aisles and singing along with the comically morbid themes running through "Marie Provost" and "Gonna See the Rollers." Sounds of breaking glass were heard in the dressing room upstairs, overshadowed only by Jake Riviera's ranting and raving about fans and other important matters ("Look, I don't give a fuck who you are, if you're not a fan then get out of here.")
With Elvis Costello, the Attractions and various Minks upstairs and the same backstage entourage that had been present at the five previous shows, the Whisky gig could very well have been any other show on the Costello tour. All in all, this show was one of our favorites, only out-shone perhaps by the last tour date at Winterland in San Francisco. Funny though, Nick never played any of the songs off the second side of his new album Pure Pop for Now People. Maybe he didn't know the chords.
June 7, Elvis Costello,
Winterland, San Francisco
Winterland was the end of the tour... and us.
Doriot & Jolie
Spike & Peaches
Blondie & Monstro