Winnipeg Free Press, November 22, 1978

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Andy Mellen

Do you ever get a feeling that you have a chance to be part of something out of the ordinary?

Usually such hunches turn out to be a false alarm. Last Wednesday, however, I got one of those feelings shortly after Elvis Costello and The Attractions' memorable performance in the Playhouse.

The show had been everything expected and more, with Costello and his three-man band injecting every song with incredible urgency. Such performances are rare around here.

Several friends and I were hardly ready to call it a night at 9:30. We went to the St. Vital Hotel, ostensibly to hear The Fuse, but for some reason expecting Costello to show up.

He did, shortly after 10, with bassist Bruce Thomas and drummer Peter Thomas. Costello sat appreciatively through The Fuse's second set, which included several of his tunes. Pandemonium erupted just before midnight as he and the band went onstage for an impromptu set which had people dancing in the aisles and on the shuffleboard table top.

Opening with a Nick Lowe song, "Peace, Love and Understanding," they played a remarkable four-song set including an old Merseybeat number, "I Stand Accused," and "Alison," a surprising omission from the Playhouse show. The Fuse's lead guitarist Jeff Hatcher joined the group for "Heart Of The City."

Costello and company exited to a thunderous ovation which almost matched that at the Playhouse. Long after they had returned to their seats the room was still filled with cheering and cries of "Elvis is king."

The crowd coaxed the band back for a final encore of "Mystery Dance" after The Fuse's third set.

Not only did Elvis Costello prove that he is every bit the performer his records led me to believe, he also showed that he is a regular guy. In an age of overpublicized, overpaid performers with little, if any, commitment to their fans, Elvis's honest, straightforward approach to his music and the people who listen to it is a refreshing change.

Weekend flu prevented me from hearing the new-wave concert Sunday in the University of Manitoba's multipurpose room. My spies tell me that roughly 400 people were heard four local acts, including co-headliners The Psychiatrists and Torn and Frayed.

I did catch Lisa Dal Bello at a Friday afternoon beer bash at Red River Community College. The l9-year-old singer and composer displayed considerable polish during two well-paced sets. It shouldn't be long before this talented Canadian makes an impact on the American market.

I don't see much of a future for the recently reformed Five Man Electrical Band, or Emmerson Electrical Band as it's now known. Best remembered for international hits like "Signs" and "Absolutely Right" in the early '70s, Les Emmerson and crew offered little out of the ordinary during their performance in the MPR Friday.


Winnipeg Free Press, November 22, 1978

Andy Mellen reports on EC's impromptu performance at St. Vital Hotel, Winnipeg, Wednesday, November 15, 1978.


1978-11-22 Winnipeg Free Press clipping 01.jpg


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