Elvis at the Northrop, 1981


There's a new Elvis Costello record out today. It's not "another goddamn reissue"--it's twelve new songs on an album called Momofuku and you can only buy it on vinyl or download it online. Good night compact disc--into the the sweet dark of sleep for you.

We're celebrating the new by ignoring it. No review, no streaming tracks--just another installment of our Unearthed series, where we rifle around in the City Pages archives and post what we find. This time, we have scraps from an Elvis Costello show at the Northrop on January 16, 1981. Squeeze was the opener.

A funny thing: Costello was already in the business of B-sides and previously unreleased matter back in '81. He was touring on Get Happy!, but he had just released Taking Liberties, a long out-of-print compilation of cast-offs.

In our listing of the Costello concert, we hyped it as "The rock 'n roll show in January."

Here is some 8mm footage of the show from YouTube:

Here he's covering Elvis Presley's "Little Sister" into "Watching the Detectives":


And here he's doing Allison into a super-fast Pump It Up:

Here's what our reviewer, a rather stiff Martian Colour, had to say about the show:

Costello turned in a tedious hour-long set last week at the Northrup after Squeeze had impressively stirred up a nearly full house. Although Elvis was friendlier--announcing songs and actually making chit-chat with the crowd--his performance seemed tired until the end. With a pumped-up encore, Costello and the Attractions finally pulled the stops out. Among the few surprises that night, EC covered Presley's "Little Sister" and an old Sonny Boy Williams blues, among newer songs from a forthcoming LP mixed in with the old. Costello is also looking paunchier these days. Martian suggests plenty of interviews with the press, a diet of grapefruit and mineral water and lots of bed exercise...just ask James Brown.

And here's the ad: