After three albums Elvis Costello has made his mark in the New Wave Era. His new album, Armed Forces is number seven on the charts and is still climbing. On Wednesday April 4, Elvis Costello brought his highly acclaimed act to Ithaca College's Ben Light Gym. I for one, decided it was about time to give Elvis and his New Wave Rock a good hard listen.
Elvis demonstrated to the audience that his recent success goes beyond his weird and mysterious antics. Elvis Costello proved to be a fine musician.
The Rubinoos opened the show with a weak imitation of what rock 'n' roll music should be. Except for a few strong guitar riffs by Tommy Dunbar the band seemed too ordinary, too loud, and too undefined to hold interest. As soon as the Rubinoos left the stage, punk rock music was played over the sound system to set the mood for the coming of the "King."
Elvis and the Attractions bounded on stage and immediately tore into their music. At first I was impressed by the high energy output of the band. The music had a driving force and I wondered whether Elvis could maintain this level of intensity throughout the entire show.
Clad in a yellow polka-dotted shirt, Elvis seemed entirely in control as he led his band through songs from his new album Armed Forces, ending with "Oliver's Army."
Elvis stepped back from the lights for a brief moment then quickly broke into "I Don't Want To Go To Chelsea." During this song Elvis lost some of his intensity and direction which made the music sound choppy. It was at this point in the concert where I feel Elvis slowed the furious pace he had started with with the tempo dwindling Elvis could not have picked a better moment to sing the best song of the evening, "Allison." This number brought Elvis back into the flow of his music. More importantly, I felt it was evident that he was deeply and emotionally involved in this song. Back in the groove Elvis proceeded to rock 'n' roll for the remainder of the evening.
Drummer Pete Thomas provided an excellent beat for the band. Though Elvis failed to introduce The Attractions, Thomas' presence was felt throughout the show.
The concert ended on a high note as the band played hit songs. "Watching the Detectives," "Accidents Will Happen," and "Radio" in succession. Unlike other performers Elvis Costello ripped from one song into the next, never letting up for a moment. His stage presence was surprising as he moved gracefully and confidently. Elvis and the Attractions put everything they had into this concert, and except for a few small letdowns, gave a strong performance. I was impressed at the power and fullness Elvis and his band produced. Although Elvis left the crowd satisfied he still has a long way to go to deserve the title "The King."