Amidst the unlikely setting of surfdom in San Diego, New Wave lives. Elvis Costello and the Rubinos played to an almost sold-out house on Sunday, Feb. 18, at the Fox Theatre. The legions were out in all their regalia. Upon entering the theatre, one was greeted by men with blue hair, women in glittering peg pants and toreador jackets and one person wearing a surgical mask, shower cap and "Ben Casey" shirt.
The show was in full swing before the music ever started. I knew I was in the Star Wars Bar. Having seen the movie before, I relaxed and enjoyed it. One man drifted by with a T-shirt emblazoned with the query "Why?" — another with large gold safety pins in his ears — and others sported versions of fifties styles that era never saw. From the perspective of the balcony, the sight was amusing, to say the least.
The Rubinos began their set as we climbed the stairs. The sounds I heard led me to expect a Sha-Na-Na facsimile. When they introduced their next song as a composition they had just completed and launched into the best version of "I Want to Hold Your Hand" I've heard in years, I was a fan.
Other ancient songs included ones by the Ventures and the Animals. The Rubinos blazed through musical history through some excellent rip-roaring rock and roll into punk rock future at one time to declare, "Rock and Roll is dead and I don't care!"
As the venerable Steven Tyler of Aerosmith said, "Some bands don't know how to move." The Rubinos are not one of them. They strutted all over the stage. At one time the Bass, Rhythm, and Lead guitars stood side by side moving their guitars back and forth in wild syncopation. At another time the Bass and Rhythm guitars engaged in a "guitar duet" fueled by a furious bass and drums pushing them into frenzy. Their sound was clean and strong: a tough act, I thought for Costello to follow. Check the Rubinos out.
Costello appeared on the stage in a loud checkered sport coat, otherwise looking as he does in his photos. His organist's skin-tight gold-lame dungarees were also interesting.
Compared to the Rubinos, the sound was very muddled. Elvis assumed his stiff, angry, pigeon-toed posture and let us have it. Most of the songs he played were from Armed Forces, his third album. I particularly enjoyed hearing "Watching the Detectives" from his second.
It was when Costello shed his guitar that I thought he was out standing, stalking the stage like a caged animal. When he finished the set and the lights went on the crowd was piqued. Nobody moved. It was an interesting illustration of group dynamics. The roadies would begin to disassemble the equipment and everyone would boo — when they'd stop, everyone applauded. Waves of visible emotion.
Costello returned for an encore. I was ready for the whole concert to begin again. He wasn't. The band played one more song and they were out of there! The audience 's concensus was Costellos's aim is true, but he is a quick shot.
A note on the Fox Theatre. It should be designated as a national historic site. With its ornate facades and throne-like seating it is a work of art in itself — reminiscent of another time. They don't build them like they used to: a local pyramid; it's a real San Diego treasure.
It's often been said that one of the most beautiful qualities which children possess is their honesty. For her "initiation" into the concert scene, we took our 11-year-old neighbor, Shannon. On asking how she enjoyed the show she exclaimed, "I loved it!" That's Rock 'n' Roll.