Elvis Costello and the Attractions bombarded the Tower Theatre with … New Wave (I refuse to call it Punk) music on Saturday, April 7.
First, I was prepared to write a good review for the Rubinoos, who opened the show. They delivered a lively and highly polished performance, beginning acapella, then sliding in the bass, two guitars, and drumset … the same makeup as the Beatles. In fact, the highlight of the show was their rendition of "Please Please Me." Lead singer Jon Rubin peppered the set with Ramones quips, to distinguished his group from the primary and primal punks. I was impressed by the band's fast-paced and rocking show. Imagine my surprise, then, when I later read that the Rubinoos were formerly none other than — the Archies! (yes, sugar, sugar, honey, honey, bang shang a lang) Well, they thankfully did not perform any of those old chestnuts, and I assume that tagged to Elvis' bill, they hope to leave behind their old, top-40, and foolish ways and join the rank and file of progressive rock.
And speaking of Armed Forces, Elvis Costello trooped onstage in a white baggy suit to capture the audience for an hour and a half.
The Attractions back him up well, but the show is all Elvis. He sings all vocals, his guitar slices the rock and roll (Buddy Holly style rock and roll), for almost the entire show he kept his center stage ground. Then the stage blackened and an eery green light seeped into the audience as Costello performed "Lipstick Vogue." On the last writhing note, a drum-beat cut through and the stage lighted again, signaling one of Costello's best tunes, "Watching the Detectives." For this song, Elvis grabbed the mike and paced the stage, pleading with the audience until they followed him, followed him as he fell to his knees, ("It nearly took a miracle to get you to stay") followed him as his head hit the floor ("It only took my little finger to blow you away").
Not at all distant from his audience, Elvis made a few Harrisburg jokes: "This is to all of you in Pennsylvania, I hope you live very long," he introduced "Accidents will Happen." And though notorious for short shows without encores, Costello came back again and again. The first encore, the classic parody "Radio, Radio," ("I want to bite the hand that feeds me"), delighted the audience with the exception maybe of WMMR's host Mark Goodman. The second encore, "Pump it Up" is so full of the tough spirit of old Rock and Roll, that I refuse to even call it New Wave.