Archive for the ‘Bluebells’ Category

Elvis Costello Sunderland 1980; Newcastle 1981 and 1982

Elvis Costello Sunderland Mayfair 1980
Very few of the top punk and new wave bands came to Sunderland, as most bands tended to call at Newcastle and/or Middlesbrough for their North East gigs. So when a punk act did come it was a big event. My 1981 the old Sunderland Locarno (or “Mecca” as it was more commonly known) had been renamed The Mayfair, taking the same name as its Newcastle counterpart. Sunderland Mayfair regularly featured heavy rock acts, and one or two punk / new waves bands also crept on to the schedule. The place was absolutely jam packed for Elvis Costello. I remember being down the front on the dance floor and being squashed and pushed all over the place. The next time I saw Elvis was a year later in 1981, when he was back at the City Hall. Elvis was incredibly prolific in the early years of his career. By the end of 1981 he had released 6 albums and 17 singles, and the vast majority had climbed high in the charts; an incredible achievement. This meant that he has a vast catalogue of songs to choose from in concerts, and his sets just got longer and longer over the years, often featuring in excess of 30 songs, which is some going, and certainly set him aside from many of his punk contemporaries. His shows were a great mix of high energy new wave, catchy jangly pop, beautiful moving ballads, with a classic cover thrown in every now and then. Costello was back at the City Hall a year later, at the time of the Imperial Bedroom album. The last time that I saw Elvis at Newcastle City Hall was some thirty years ago, in 1982. Support that evening came from The Bluebells, who were to hit the charts with Young at Heart a couple of years later. I saw Costello at Live Aid at Wembley Stadium, and then lost touch with his work. Reflecting back on these gigs has made me realise just how good he is, and I’ve promised myself that I will make every effort to see him when he comes to the Sage Gateshead in 2013.

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