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Saturday, June 1, 2013

Oliver's Army - Elvis Costello

On a balmy Brummie evening I sat out eating my Tesco's tea, waiting for the doors to open at the Elvis Costello concert, contemplating my loyalty to the real Elvis. Here they are:
1. Baritone voice, no squeaky tenor or breathy alto voice that Simon Cowell considers to be 'soulful'.
2. Musical intellect: being able to write songs in the style of Motown (Get Happy), Blues (Imperial Bedroom), or writing with Burt Bacharach (God Give me Strength, ) and the Brodski Quartet (Juliet Letters).
3. Clever wordplay in the lyrics: compare 'I know that you're loving some body, I only know it isn't mine', with 'Imagine there's no Heaven,' - why John- I'd rather imagine no faux hippy intellect?
4. Catchy Tunes that get you dancing 'Pump It Up'.

The sterile Symphony Hall, in comparison to the Hammersmith Palais where I first saw Elvis, does not lend itself to a rock concert. Steep shallow balconies, high ceilings make people self-conscious, so very little 'dad dancing'. With the lights on, the bald heads dazzled under the lights, the unifrom for gents seemed to be check Rohan shirts, the women new hair do and new shoes for their big night out. What?!*?! Where is the denim, plastic, leather and black?

A flower arrangement outside the Symphony Hall
In the mid 80's I saw Elvis on the Revolving Songbook Tour. A giant Roulette wheel, with song titles around the edge. He invited the audience to spin the wheel, and there was a degree of jiggery pokery to get the wheel to stop on Alison. Twenty five years on, technology and fickle fate meant that on the last two occasions the wheel did not stop there. Is this a marketing con to keep it on my Bucket List? I'm going to have to see him again, as its one of the few songs where when you hear it live, the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. Yes that good.

 Awaiting Napoleon Dynamite to take the Stage......
 The Wheel of Fortune did throw up a couple of old songs that remain topical: Shipbuilding, and Tramp the Dirt Down'. RIP Lee Rigby and Margaret Thatcher. At 60 years old he did over 2 and a half hours - some of his contemporaries are no longer with us: Ian Drury, Joe Strummer, which shows his staying power.

I don't want to go to Chelsea......
On the way home, I got away quickly. Great I thought, in bed for midnight. Oh how times change. Even 10 years ago, it would have been I'm buzzing, where can I go onto? And Oh how I wish I hadn't thought it. Why don't I learn. At 11.10 I was at the second Lichfield turn-off. At that time of night, I am 10 minutes from home. Instead I got in to bed at 12.20. The A38 was shut for about 7 miles for road works. Had they got evry road worker in the country working on it? But in true disorganised fashion, we were diverted at the last moment. If I had been warned on the Matrix lights in Birmingham or even on the A38, I could have gone a different way and been 5-10 minutes later not 50. Still we know that Matrix lights always tell us to watch out for fog on blazing sunshine don't they? The road through Lichfield had also undergone recent repair. Well if that is what you call throwing gravel on potholes, in the hope that the traffic will seal it, are roadworks. Perfect. I have to drive behind all the freight traffic on its way to Tescopolis at Fradley. I had 'Incontinence Radio' on, listening to the self-styled 'King of Music Pete Waterman's idea of Music. The genius who took the edgi-ness from Bananarama. (No I am not joking. Sing with Terry Hall and Fun Boy Three and London School of Fashion. to 'Venus' in 5 years). No wonder my musical taste in the 80's became weird and wonderful - remember Half man, Half Biscuit, Frank Chickens, Frank Sidebottom and Jesus and Mary Chain?

I could stand the tic-tacking of the gravel hitting my paintwork no longer and took a short cut at Curborough to re-join the A38 and guess what? That junction was shut as well. I was then stuck behind freight lorries who couldn't pass each other without slowing down to a crawl because of the narrowness of the road. After station switching, I gave up on Waterman's S(H)it Factory and in the darkness tried to find Jake Bugg to save my sanity.  Aaah, that's better, open countryside, clear roads and Jake Bugg - my bed awaits one more sleep before the Lions tour starts (tv only at this stage).

Music today just had to be 'Oliver's Army' - probably Elvis's biggest commercial hit, and as the British and Irish Lions return to two former colonies of the Empire wearing the red of the British soldier's tunic, a song about expanding imperialism. If I still have readers at this point, apologies if 'my mind goes sleepwalking, while I'm putting the world to rights' in this blog. Also apologies to my son for his middle name, (Oliver). It could have been so much worse. I could have liked Elton John and then it would have been Nikita (how the hell do you spell that?  

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