Tampa Tribune, August 7, 1984

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Costello: Cold-blooded and hot-tempered

David Okamoto

ORLANDO — Elvis Costello and The Attractions pulled an emotional bait-and-switch at Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre Sunday night, stunning fans with a brutal concert that replaced warmth with anger and found the British rock star bearing fangs instead of his soul.

The friendly, playful singer-songwriter from recent tours — who occasionally would toy with the audience, sing Motown chestnuts and croon love ballads from center stage — was gone.

In his place for this third show on his Goodbye Cruel World tour was the other Costello — cold-blooded and hot-tempered.

Wearing clear-plastic-rimmed glasses and a gray Nehru suit, Costello gave an emotional 26-song performance that was awe-inspiring in its intensity but unsettling in its seeming disregard for the sold-out crowd of 2,534.

He said little between songs, hardly acknowledged applause and shortchanged the Orlando audience by omitting several songs that reportedly highlighted his Fort Lauderdale concert two nights before.

As the band opened with "Pump It Up," it was obvious that this was not the same Costello from the joyous Imperial Bedroom and Punch the Clock tours, nor the one who hams it up in the humorous "Only Flame in Town" video.

An overpowering sense of urgency dominated Sunday's show, sometimes startlingly fierce ("Waiting for the End of the World," "New Lace Sleeves"), sometimes passionately longing ("I Wanna Be Loved," "Alison").

And one could see and hear the sneer in his blistering version of The Byrds' "So You Wanna Be a Rock 'n' Roll Star" and the choruses of "Worthless Thing" (a putdown of television in general and MTV in particular) and a bitter new number titled "I Hope You're Happy Now."

Costello's vocals were more impressive than ever, standing out over the suitably relentless assault of The Attractions (with new saxophonist Gary Barnacle).

Rather than simply singing, Costello stuttered and spit out verses. often switching tempo in mid-song.

But for all the emotion that poured from the stage, Costello seemed to be giving fans the cold shoulder. There was no wall between the audience and the performer, just a thin line that Costello seemed unwilling to cross.

He came close during the last encore, inviting fans to dance in front of the stage during Van McCoy's "Gettin' Mighty Crowded." But then he abruptly exited, without playing such expected numbers as "Watching the Detectives," "Man Out of Time," "What's So Funny About Peace, Love and Understanding" and the gorgeous "Peace in Our Time." All reportedly were included Friday night in Fort Lauderdale.

This undoubtedly left more than a few fans torn between marveling at Costello's unpredictability and feeling betrayed by his moody stage presence.


Tampa Tribune, August 7, 1984

David Okamoto reviews Elvis Costello & The Attractions with Gary Barnacle, Sunday, August 5, 1984, Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre, Orlando, Florida.

Okamoto interviews Nick Lowe and reports on his concerts with His Cowboy Outfit, Thursday, August 2, London Victory Club, Tampa, and Sunday, August 5, Bob Carr Centre, Orlando.


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Clipping. (1982 photo by Walt Batansky.)

Nick Lowe rounds up rock roots
on tour with His Cowboy Outfit

David Okamoto

1984-08-07 Tampa Tribune page 2-D clipping 01.jpg

Here's the Lowe-down:

He's one of the most respected producers in the music business and has worked with everyone from Elvis Costello to The Fabulous Thunderbirds.

His new album, Nick Lowe and His Cowboy Outfit, is being heralded as his best in three years.

He wrote and recorded the pop classic, "Cruel To Be kind."

Yet, Nick Lowe — England's Prince of Pop and one of new wave's founding fathers, can't get back on the radio.

"But considering the kind of music I do, which is a little left of field, I get a pretty easy ride, really," Lowe said during an interview at the London Victory Club, where he and his three-man band played recently.

"I thought that I was going to get elbowed by Columbia (Records) because they were firing so many people who had done much better than I had. To my amazement, they decided not to. I enjoy a kind of 'tolerance' over here."

And rightly so. After two impressive but inconsistent grab-bag pop albums, Lowe says the label has told him to "get rockin' again."

The result is Nick Lowe and His Cowboy Outfit, named after his band, featuring ex-Rumour guitarist Martin Belmont, drummer Bobby Irwin and former Squeeze keyboardist Paul Carrack.

The band name comes from a building industry term referring to a company that uses cheap materials "and really aren't very good, and slightly outside the law as well," he said. "I thought it'd be a good name."

With songs like "(God's Gift to Women," "(Hey Big Mouth) Stand Up and Say That" and covers of Dusty Springfield's "Breakaway" and Ferron Young's "Live Fast, Love Hard, Die Young," this album leans toward the country-rock stylings perfected by Lowe's former band, Rockpile.

And by concentrating on three-chord rockers like "Maureen" and "Raging Eyes," Lowe and the band won over a small crowd at the London Victory Club Thursday night, tuning up for its stint as opening act for Elvis Costello (which included a Sunday night stop in Orlando). Highlights both nights were Dusty Springfield's "Little by Little" and an extended, reggae-fueled version of Carrack's "How Long" (a hit for his first band, Ace).

Tampa fans got an extra treat Thursday, as Lowe and Carrack played six additional "club" songs — including such classics as "Heart of the City" and new, unrecorded numbers like "Tip of My Tongue," "Rose of England" and "Impressions, a moody rocker Carrack and Lowe co-wrote with Chris Difford.

Despite his theory that having his name listed as producer on other artist's albums is a kiss of death ("They never bloody sell"), Lowe will produce the debut LP by a MilWaukee band called The Rhythm and Blues Cadets and then team with ex-Who guitarist Pete Townshend.

"It's the worst-kept secret in the business," he said "He (Townshend) wanted to do an album with The Fabulous Thunderbirds because he really liked the album I did with them. All we're doing now is waiting to see if he still Wants to do it."

Meanwhile, he continues his five-year search for his second American hit. "In England, I seem to have become an old man of the mountain that they consult when a new thing comes out, like I'm a sort of oracle or something."

So, what does the Wise One think of the latest trend toward emphasis on video music?

"Most rock videos are pretty ghastly, because a number of groups have seen a couple of French films and suddenly reckon they're bloody experts," he said. "If I see another video with light coming through a Venetian blind or a newspaper blowing up a darkened street, I'll go around the twist."

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