This is my 2nd blog post of Elvis Costello gig memories, you can read part 1 right here.
I didn’t see Elvis live in 92 or 93. The only London gigs he played were with the Brodsky Quartet and they were usually pretty expensive so I gave them a miss.
But there was no way I was going to miss seeing Elvis play with his next selected collaborators, he only went and got the old band back together again!!
Glastonbury Festival, 25th June 1994
My first encounter with the reformed Attractions was a headline appearance on Saturday night on the main stage at Glastonbury. Compared to 1989 when Elvis has last played, the festival had grown even bigger with even more stages. I liked to spend a lot of time studying my little timetable booklet very hard and working out a plan for exactly who I was going to watch on what stage at what time. But I also wanted to be near the front for Elvis so I made the unusual decision to stay in one place and watch 4 bands in a row on the main stage. So before Elvis came on, I watched Galliano followed by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds followed by Paul Weller. Nick Cave is probably the only one of those 3 I would’ve chosen to watch back then but all 3 of those acts were absolutely brilliant and I look back now on that Saturday session as one of my most treasured Glastonbury memories.
I remember that they started with “No Action” which has got to be one of the best album/gig openers ever! The Attractions played a lot of songs from the first album they played on (This Year’s Model) and the newest at that time (Brutal Youth).
Being so close to the front I would definitely have got my ugly mug on the telly because this was the first year that Glastonbury had been broadcast. But Elvis refused to let Channel 4 show his performance. He told the sun-baked crowd that he believed that if you want to come to Glastonbury, you’ve got to be prepared to get the sun on your head and the mud on your shoes, not just sit watching it from your armchair. A noble sentiment for sure, but the rumour was that the real reason he’d denied access to the TV cameras was because they’d refused to pay extra for the privilege.
Haven’t been back to Glastonbury since I spent 2 very muddy weekends there in 1997 & 1998 which I still occasionally have horrific flashbacks to. Don’t know if they still do this, but back in those days there used to be a stall near the Acoustic Stage that sold bootleg tapes of the gigs you’d just watched. I remember buying tapes of the Costello gig and also Johnny Cash who played on the Sunday. Those tapes are both long gone now unfortunately but thankfully some kind soul has uploaded the JC gig to Youtube.
Royal Albert Hall, London, 6th July 1994
Just a couple of weeks later but we had crap seats for this, way up in the gods and I don’t remember much about this gig. I do remember Steve Nieve playing “Favourite Hour” on the organ which was REALLY loud. (I notice he played it again on this year’s tour, good on yer Steve)
Shepherds Bush Empire, November 1994
When it was announced that Elvis was going to play 4 consecutive Friday nights at the newly-reopened Empire, there can’t have been many people more excited than me! In 1994, I lived about 3 minutes walk from the Empire, drank most nights in the pub next door and I was going out with a girl who worked there which meant free tickets and access to after hours boozing.
I went all 4 nights and loved every minute of it. Chris Difford & Glenn Tilbrook turned up to support bringing along their acoustics and their superb collection of singalong hits. Over the 4 nights, Elvis & The Attractions played “the hits” and all of Brutal Youth but other than that they shook up the setlists quite a bit. I remember they played some stuff I didn’t know (songs that were later released All This Useless Beauty) and they even played a few from the much-maligned but actually quite good “Now Ain’t The Time For Your Tears” album by Wendy James. I stopped short of buying that album at the time but I remember I borrowed the CD from Chiswick Library and taped it. I was the very first person to borrow it. About 18 months later, I’d lost the tape so I went to get the CD from Chiswick Library again and discovered that not a single other person had borrowed it since.
Anyway, listen to this and instead of dear old Wendy who, let’s face it, can’t actually sing very well, imagine Elvis singing it. It’s got a “Satellite” or “The Other End of the Telescope” kind of feel to it and I think it’s a bit of a lost gem.
Part 3 of my Elvis gig memories coming soon
- Live Review: Elvis Costello, Liverpool Philharmonic 10th June 2013 (trustthewizards.com)