Tufts University Daily, February 11, 1981

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Elvis Costello and The Attractions play
to sell-out crowd at the Orpheum


Art Charlton

In the wake of the release of his sixth album entitled Trust, Elvis Costello and the Attractions played a show to a sell-out crowd at the Orpheum Thursday night that pulled no punches, yet provided a few surprises.

In a tour in which Costello's shows have run only slightly more than 50 minutes, Boston area fans were treated to an hour and a half of one of today's best songwriters, backed by one of the tightest bands the "New Wave" has spawned.

After an opening set by Squeeze, Elvis was on stage as the lights came up and started by singing the ballad "Just A Memory" from Taking Liberties, backed only by Steve Nieve on piano. After this quiet intro, the other Attractions came on stage and ripped into "Accidents Will Happen" from the Armed Forces album.

When the dust settled 28 songs later, Elvis had taken the audience across a range of styles at such a breakneck pace, that it is little wonder that most of his shows are not this long.

It's obvious that Elvis plays what he wants when he wants. The previous night's show in Providence was twenty minutes shorter and included few songs from Trust: during the Boston show he played a good portion of the album. This could be due to his infamous moodiness, or due to the fact that a Tufts student saw him in a bar after the Providence show and said she had hoped to hear more of the new album.

Regardless, besides Trust, Get Happy!! was highly represented, but Costello chose to stay away from much of his earlier work, notable exceptions being "Red Shoes" and "Mystery Dance" from the first album, My Aim Is True.

Songs like "Clubland," "Lover's Walk," and "You'll Never Be a Man" were pounded out in quick succession, led by Steve Nieve's organ runs and piano riffing that cut through the clean sound.

Elvis played few guitar solos, for he writes songs with no excess filler. The addition of guitarist Martin Belmont from the Rumour for the tour fleshed out the sound, and bassist Bruce Thomas often played melodic counterlines running under Elvis' throaty singing.

Absent was any vocal harmony found on the records, which made the call and answer section of "Red Shoes" sound a little empty, as well as on some of the anthem-like songs from Get Happy!! When Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze came out to sing an encore of "From A Whisper to a Scream," the power of three guitars and the two voices trading off was devastating.

It was on the ballads that Elvis really shined, and it's easy to see why he favors them so much on his later albums. On songs like the slow version of "Clowntime Is Over," he is at his expressive best and can build tension with just a shake of his fist. Then the Attractions would fly into another rocker or rhythm and blues number, releasing the tension built up in the ballad.

After the steady punches of "What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love, and Understanding," "Radio Radio" and "Big Sister's Clothes," Elvis came back for encores with Tilbrook, then on "Mystery Dance" featuring a steady Gene Krupa-style drumbeat. After the house lights went on but the audience refused to leave, Elvis and the Attractions came back to do killer versions of "I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down," and "Watching the Detectives" in which he injected a little humor, slipping into Stevie Wonder's "Master Blaster," and "Pump It Up."

While hitting on virtually every style he plays, Elvis showed his versatility and knack for bringing the audience's mood along with him in whichever direction he might decide to take.

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The Tufts Daily, February 11, 1981


Art Charlton reviews Elvis Costello & The Attractions and guests Martin Belmont and Glenn Tilbrook, Thursday, February 5, 1981, Orpheum Theatre, Boston, MA.

Images

1981-02-11 Tufts University Daily page 05 clipping 01.jpg
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1981-02-11 Tufts University Daily page 05.jpg
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