Reading Chorizo Garbanzo’s memories of Costello Gigs sent me dewy-eyed thinking about my gig memories. I am also struggling to remember how many times I have seen Elvis, who is one of the few artists who I can say that I own the 1st 10 singles they released. I am also indebted to the amazing Elvis Costello wiki for prompting my memory. From my own recollection I felt that I had waited for years to see Elvis and had missed the white hot period of his career. As it turned out it was September 1982 and I was 17, so I suppose I got there as quick as I could.
But I think that the reason I felt that this experience was a bit of a let down was that the support act was The Bluebells, a group I hated. No – hate – with a passion. Young at Heart – what a crass, wafer thin piece of twee pop that was. I can only think Elvis didn’t want any competition. Looking back at the set list now, it confirmed my sense at the time that he didn’t really play my favourites (every song pre 1980). Still there were some great performances, and I remember Elvis bringing on Nick Lowe and playing Indoor Fireworks and Peace, Love and Understanding.
According to the Wiki, and also because Indoor Fireworks was not released until 1986, maybe that happened at the same venue in 12th May 1989
I have no recollection of this concert, but I must have been there because I definitely saw that. So now I am confused as to which gig he brought out a copy of the Daily Star, which had him on the front page calling him a “Rock Moaner” for his criticism of Mrs Thatcher. It seems clear now that these 2 concerts have merged into one in my mind as the full horror of Thatcherism had not really kicked in by 1982.
So Great Gigs? Maybe I am not the best qualified to talk about that.
However, I also graduated to the Festival Circuit and in 1987 pitched up at Glastonbury. I have been to Glastonbury on 2 occasions and can safely say that I have never paid a penny on entrance fees! This time we parked in a field next to the site and made our way along a well travelled path to an entry point where occasionally you had to queue, but otherwise was much more efficient that the official entrances. Now this concert was easily the best time I had seen him and perhaps the best gig I had ever seen at this point too. He played some of the best medleys I have ever heard, one, Radio Sweetheart / Jackie Wilson Says / Reet Petite, I learned and has been a party piece of mine ever since. By the way, I am more than willing to play this on a future podcast or should I say might have to be restrained from doing so! [We will stop him, listener, with whatever it takes. – TTW Ed]
The monologues were amazing, lambasting George Michael and The Beastie Boys along the way. Then he played the legendary version of Tramp The Dirt Down that was described in the Thatcher Blog
and discussed in podcast 8
He concluded by getting a beatbox on stage and playing a blistering version of Pump It Up. So there we had it, a 17 song solo set that was nothing short of historic. Then he says “I’m going to play a bit of a noisy song now, is that OK?” He launched into I Hope You’re Happy Now and then the curtain behind him opens and the Attractions are there, firing on all cylinders!!! Just how sublime was this set? Well, the penultimate song was Leave My Little Kitten Alone and the last, Poor Napoleon that segued into Instant Karma and Like A Rolling Stone. Very, very sublime. My memory is not great, but I am pretty sure that we staggered from this amazing concert into a big tent where Billy Bragg played the second best concert I had ever seen in my life at that point. If I do ever get caught in a Ground Hog Day situation, I hope that’s the day I’ll replay again and again!!
The next time I saw Elvis was in 1991, plugging the Mighty Like A Rose album. OK, the album itself was a bit underrated, but the tour that followed… I had to apologise to the people I dragged there that night at the Royal Court in Liverpool. He was bearded, bloated and played Alison in waltz time. It was dreadful. That would have been a sad end for me, but never fear, much, much better was to come!!
Stay tuned for Part 2.