Memories and images of Elvis in Ireland, March 1978 - first known photo of Dublin show has appeared.

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Memories and images of Elvis in Ireland, March 1978 - first known photo of Dublin show has appeared.

Postby johnfoyle » Sat Mar 15, 2008 2:23 pm

One of England's elder statesmen of rock may have little reason to think back to shows he did in Ireland back in March 1978 . Now domiciled thousands of miles from Europe , it must all seem like another world , a fleeting moment in a frantic existence. Another venue, another performance and a dash to the airport the day after. All that remains are some ads. in a archive and a few post -ironic comments in a music weekly.

But that's enough about Gary Glitter , and what he might remember of his March '78 shows in the ill-fated Stardust venue ( 48 died when it burnt down in 1981) - another visitor to Dublin that month was Elvis Costello. It was
the start of a tour to promote This Years Model . The show had been mentioned in the Dublin evening 'papers -

Evening Herald , March 11 '78
Evening Press , March 11 '78

- and a Dublin music magazine -

Hot Press , March 4-17 '78

In the few days since Elvis 'n co. had returned from Canada ( having finished a North American tour with the March 7 El Mocambo show in Toronto) they had been busy with promotional activity. On March 13 they recorded a session for John Peel's BBC radio show - ... scostello/
- including a version of You Belong To Me that was all more menacing for it's , in this version, lack of percussion.

On March 15th they recorded a appearance on BBC TV's Top Of The Pops to promote the new single '(I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea' ... lsea.shtml

With Kate Bush at No.1 with Wuthering Heights, ... 4A&index=5

Elvis performed alongside others from that weeks chart -

The NME's Nick Kent was there,_March_18,_1978

Here in the proverbial lion's den, Costello and the
Attractions are sequestered together off to one
corner, waiting for their turn on the adjacent stage
where they will in due course perform Tip For The Top
"Chelsea", while casually observing the rest of those
similarly lucky popsters going through their paces.
Maybe it's the virtually surreal quotient of ludicrous
pop cliches being blithely trotted out on the other
twin stages that keeps the Costello collective so
near-languidly amused.

Costello himself views the whole pantomime with a
detachment that arguably typifies his
recently-discovered professionalism. He's adopted his
classic stance for the occasion the Fender Jazzmaster
cradled in his arms, the legs slanted somewhat askew
as per usual but the stance has become totally
unselfconscious and his manner is strictly casual.

As Legs and Co troup onto their own personal little
platform to go through the paces on Bob Marley's "Is
This Love", Costello views the collective girly
primping most sardonically, wondering out loud whether
one of the stickers for his new album "Warning: This
is not this year's model"can be surreptitiously
applied to at least one of the, uh, dancers'

Elvis may have been also wondering about a football game on that evening, Liverpool playing Benfica in a European Cup 3rd round 2nd leg game at Anfield. His precious Liverpool won , with goals by Ian Callaghan, Kenny Dalglish , Terry McDermott and Phil Neal , and went on to win that competition in May.

The following day it was on to Dublin for Elvis' first show in Ireland.
Earlier in the month Dublin newspaper readers were regaled with this ( featuring an eventual Costello collaborator )

Evening Press , March 1st 1978 ( P.1 on the Dublin edition, p.5 of the country edition).

Weather records tell of a day with a temperature hovering around freezing. A front page of a 'paper from then tells us -


- and a Evening Press page of entertainment on that Thursday , the eve of a national holiday , St Patrick's day, told of Elvis' show , amongst other fun things to do -


Rathmines was - and remains - an area filled with rented accommodation mostly used by country people, working/studying in Dublin. With the long weekend for the holiday coming up the area would have been emptying. The Stella cinema management would have felt safe in deferring , for one night , the considerable charms of
Jacqueline Bisset in The Deep


for a night of 'punk rock' from a hotly anticipated artist .


For anticipated he was. Journalists Karl Tsigdinos and Ferdia McAnna were there and told me of memories of it being the only thing that was being spoken about in music circles in the weeks beforehand. They , and all that were 'hip' , crammed into the venue. Ferdia remembers that the place was 'crammed', people from all over, town and
country. A then 'happening' band from Galway called the Biros were especially apparent in the audience, for some reason.

A cinema site -
-tells us -

Seating was provided for 1,283 in stalls and circle levels in what was advertised ( in 1923) as the 'Largest Picture Theatre in Dublin But One'.

Ferdia remembers that the -then- single screen auditorium had seating at an extreme angle , with every one looking down at the stage. The venue didn't have a drinks license so patrons drank at the neighbouring Slattery's bar. Karl seems to remember that an Irish band did a support slot, Sacre Blue , he guesses. The Mickey Jupp band did support for the later U.K. dates. Ferdia remembers seeing Mickey Jupp in concert in Ireland around that time ('squat man, in the Billy Bremner mode ' he comments) but couldn't swear it was the Stella. Karl remembers seeing Mickey in a Stiff package tour that year , but that was in The Stardust(that place again) in Oct. 78.

A audience recording gives the impression that Elvis 'n co. were delighted to get back in to performing mode, after days of PR activity. You would think they had played the day before , and not after a ten day break and thousands of miles away across the Atlantic. The 'Lipstick Vogue'/'Watching The Detectives' pairing is especially satisfying , with
guitar riffing and percussion fills that refuse to bow to audience interjection. Elvis was achieving long sought success and was starting to wallow in all aspects of it. As he would say in a Armed Forces liner note -

.......the unpleasant character that I felt I was becoming. I had left my family home and was living a
totally willful life with little sense of gravity. I surrendered to temptation, committed selfish acts of
betrayal, and destroyed any possibility of trust and reconciliation in my marriage.

Karl and Ferdia also remembered , in separate conversations , a rare comment onstage from Elvis . Before the last two songs of a 15 song set he says -

We'd like to say this has been a really nice first night on our tour ( audience cheers) - we've just come back from America and it's good to get back to some human beings , after all that shite ( louder cheers )

Considering the goading, confrontational air that, reportedly, permeated gigs later in the tour it would seem that Elvis was suitably impressed with the Dublin audience and felt they deserved better. Perhaps he was recognising elements of the his Irish heritage and taking comfort in same. Or perhaps he just wasn't yet tired and worn down by the rigors of touring.

The recording , crude as it is, does feature a clear enough vocal , explained , perhaps , by what Elvis continues to say -

..also I should explain about not doing a lot of talking , it's cos these microphones are live and I can't get too close to them so before we completely lose our voices we're going to do a tune called Miracle Man

To many of the audience this kind of intensity from a singer must have seemed like something from Mars. The day after the show many of them would have spent their Patrick's night at another 'punk' show at the Project Arts venue. On the bill was a band called The Hype. That weekend they would win a recording session in a talent contest and go on to fame and fortune under a new name, U2. Beside the Stella ad. in the above entertainment page is an ad. for an awards show the following week , promising appearances by the likes of Joe Dolan and Ray Lynam. Ferdia characterises
that as the kind of gig that no one at the Stella would have gone to. There was definitely a sense of a new audience defining itself and , for many , Elvis' show set the template.

With a setlist common to the time -

- the recording illustrates Hot Press's Niall Stokes recent comment,_March_30,_1978

There was a whiff of amphetamine in the air ­ and the live show distilled all of that and unleashed it
in a wonderfully visceral way.

At the time he wrote -



..... it was the nearest I've come to pure bliss at
a live gig so far this year. Costello and his band are
just so good.

There was a vibe doing the rounds late last year that
maybe his live gigs didn't match up to the promise of
'My Aim Is True , but don't believe that for a minute.

There's an extent to which he could come a commercial
cropper as a result of his courage as a performer, in
that he refuses to rely on familiar stuff to win the
night. The number of songs in his current set lifted
from his first album is minimal. Consequently his
performances provide a challenge for an audience of a
type which it unusual in the current album-tour
package deal context.

You know the score, where everything is calculatedly
designed to turn over units and more fundamental (dare
I say artistic) considerations can sweet bugger off.

So an audience won't get the usual cosy reassurance
that they know what its all about from an Elvis gig.
And if you want to complain about that, fine. But this
guy believes in carving out new constituencies all the
time, the message being it you can't keep up, drop
out, brothers and sisters.

Plus he's got a great band, which means he can afford
to keep moving where others'd play safe. Which is a
nice bonus for the man himself.

Roll call. And whereas all three partners in the
mastermind's crime sound great, the one that stood out
for me was bass player Bruce Thomas, formerly with
Sutherland Brothers and Quiver incidentally, a man
capable not only of holding down the rhythm end of
things to a fine point, but able also to fill in
openings in the upper register when it seemed that we
might just be about to detect a flaw. He's a really
flexible and often startlingly proficient musician.

That was on the night. But I can well imagine how the
same could apply equally to drummer Pete Thomas and
organist Steve Naieve on any other occasion, both of
whom were mighty impressive fingers on the pulse ,

And Elvis came on like a demented rock 'n¹ roll ruler
(about twelve inches long?), who's being attacked from
all sides (who isn't?) and is coming back fighting
(now there's a difference) and with intelligence (now
there's a real difference), great presence, voice,
delivery - the lot.

The overall effect was such that this supposedly
objective observer just had to dance. Well with
classics like Mystery Dance, Red Shoes, Chelsea (buy
the single!), Watchin' The Detectives (magnificent!)
and I'm Not Angry going down, what'd you expect? Hey?

And if you don't know that lot, bud, you're the loser.
Get with it or get left behind. Cos Elvis Costello and
the Attractions are undoubtedly one of the the finest
rock bands treading the boards today.

See, through all the white heat and the intensity
comes a feeling, or a sense, of the real complexity of
human affairs of many shades and hues. Costello gets
down the pain more so than the joy but without
self-delusion or self-pity. With a feeling, in fact,
of unswerving self-critical honesty (and all honesty
involves self-criticism).

Through music, that pain is transformed into joy.
Which, in my terms, is where you really begin to scale
the heights.

Elvis Costello has the power and he's still human-size
enough to give it to the people. You'd be a fool to

The following day it was on to Belfast .

As Kevin Myers recently commented ( Watching the Door:Cheating Death in 1970's Belfast, A Memoir 1971-1978) -

Belfast was dreary and cold , a seventeenth-century religious conflict bottled in a late twentieth-century industrial decline , a bleak new experiment in purposeless war.

However , a 'paper that greeted
the traveling musicians -


- tells us

'....Casement Park , in
Andersonstown , took on not one, but 40 shades of
green today as the St Patrick's Day celebrations got
into full swing.

Jigs , reels and
hornpipes echoed around the stands of Belfast's GAA
headquarters as hundreds of people converged for a
festival of singing , dancing and traditional Irish
One of the organisers of
the entertainment programme , Mr Eddie McWilliams ,
said " The fine weather has given us a good start to
the day.
" We have completed
all the last minute touches and we are confident that
everyone will enjoy themselves"
More than 20 bands and
floats assembled at Albert Street before marching the
two miles to GAA headquarters where Ardoyne were to
play St. Enda's in the final of the St. Patrick's Day
football tournament.
The parade was headed
by 12 motor-cyclists from the Dunrod Wheelers Motor
Cycle Club .

Weather records tell of Belfast being a balmy 7 degrees. After nearly ten years of killings , there had been a - relative- lull , although it was little over a month after one of the worst atrocities of the conflict , the 'La Mon restaurant bombing'.

The only security force casualty that day was in Derry , miles away. However , as an indication of how commonplace death was in the the troubled city , a death in the city of a teenage girl in a , seemingly, domestic situation got mere paragraphs in the following days 'papers.

Looking through the Belfast 'papers , alternative listings of entertainment were available . The Nationalist Irish News had this -


Elvis' Catholic tradition might have been more amused and aware of the different slant in
the Protestant Belfast Telegraph ( earlier in the week admittedly ; the archived edition from March 17 has no entertainment listings )


No coverage , before or after the show , of Elvis 'n co. was apparent in Belfast 'papers. Music fans got their information, a show attender told me , from posters and listing in English music 'papers.

Elvis 'n co were playing in the Ulster Hall.


On Bedford Street in Belfast City centre , it's around the corner from the Lower Ormeau Road , dubbed "the murder mile" because of its history of retaliatory attacks between Protestant "loyalist" and Irish Catholic enclaves. Elvis was to comment in a Armed Forces liner note -

The origin of “Oliver’s Army” is easier to explain.
I made my first trip to Belfast in 1978 and saw mere
boys walking around in battle dress with automatic
weapons. They were no longer just on the evening
news.These snapshot experiences exploded into visions
of mercenaries and imperial armies marauding around
the world. The song was based on the premise: “they
always get a working class boy to do the killing”. I
don’t know who said that; maybe it was me, but it
seems true nonetheless. I pretty much had the song
sketched out on the plane back to London.

Murals like this were/are a common feature -


No recordings or accounts have surfaced of the show. The show did host a publicity caper . ... 1978-03-17


The earlier mentioned show attender Greg Cowan of Belfast punk band The
e-mailed me -

Although memories are hazy of '78 I do remember
that Colin (Cowan) had come up with a cunning plan to
publicise the name of the Outcasts by jumping on stage
with any of the few major artists that were playing
Belfast at that time. I can't remember in which order
it came but during a three month period Colin had
jumped on stage with Graham Parker and the Rumour,
Boomtown Rats and ,of course, Elvis Costello.

I particularly remember the Elvis Costello gig because
our plan was to push Colin on stage from the front so
it was a complete surprise to us when Colin suddenly
appeared from the rear of the stage and grabbing Elvis
Costello's microphone from him began shouting about
the Outcasts. As this was during the height of the
troubles in Belfast Elvis himself, quite
understandably, went into a blind panic and ran off
stage (for about five minutes). As we later found out
he thought this was some sort of political attack on
him. As the bouncers closed in from the wings to
apprehend Colin he made a stage dive into the mass
crowd who conveniently separated causing Colin to
knock himself unconscious on the floor where we
collected his limp body and spirited him away.

As all major concerts in Belfast at the time were
sponsored by the same company with the same crew of
bouncers, when we eventually did our first major
support with the Clash in the Ulster Hall we must be
the only band beaten up by the bouncers after playing
and ceremoniously thrown out onto the street! ... d=44220089

And so ended Elvis' first shows in Ireland. He wouldn't play in Ireland again until June 1981 in Macroom , Co. Cork and next appeared in Dublin in Jan. 1982. Belfast would next be visited in June 1983.

Later in '78 , the concert's promoters would advertise -


A year to the day after the Stella show , March 16 1979 , Elvis would play Columbus, Ohio.

For help putting this together thanks to the staff of the National Library,Dublin , Ferdia Mac Anna, Elveera Butler,Karl Tsigdinos, Niall Stokes, Paul Russell and Greg Cowan.

Read about Ferdia's memoirs -



Where, you may ask , was I , a Dublin resident , while all this unfolded? Growing up in the suburb of Ranelagh
I was mere streets from the Stella. Being twelve and a half at the time I seem to remember the Buddy Holly reference in the preview piece. Reading that Saturday evening 'paper I was probably recovering from the latest ( fruitless) efforts of my school to turn me into a lean, mean killing machine on the cold , muddy rugby pitches. I was/am a big fan of Holly ( he , like me wore spectacles and , unlike me , rocked ; 'nuff said) and would have noted any reference to him.

The evening of the Stella show I was probably watching The Bionic Woman. Listings tell me it was the episode where Max, the bionic dog, was kidnapped. It was on UTV at eight o'clock so it would have been before my bed time. That was if, in those pre-cable tv times, our aerial was working . I would also have seen it in black and white. My parents didn't get a colour set until Sept. '79 when the visit of the Pope to Ireland warranted such indulgences.

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Re: Memories and images of Elvis in Ireland, March 1978

Postby thepopeofpop » Sun Mar 16, 2008 12:46 am

Marvellous stuff, John!

I was just becoming aware of EC at around about this time, at the grand old age of 13 and a half.
Trust me, it won't hurt a bit -

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Re: Memories and images of Elvis in Ireland, March 1978

Postby martinfoyle » Sun Mar 16, 2008 7:35 am

invisible Pole
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Re: Memories and images of Elvis in Ireland, March 1978

Postby invisible Pole » Sun Mar 16, 2008 12:46 pm

John, you are absolutely amazing !
If you don't know what is wrong with me
Then you don't know what you've missed

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Re: Memories and images of Elvis in Ireland, March 1978

Postby johnfoyle » Tue Mar 25, 2008 5:04 pm

Just to complete the picture , this has just popped up on Rocksbackpages- ... leID=12255

Elvis Costello: Costello Group Therapy

Peter Silverton, Sounds, 1 April 1978

"Who's there?"
"Elvis who?"
"Forgotten already, huh?"

Elvis Costello smiles faintly at the 'joke' his bassist, Bruce Thomas, has just cracked and turns to face me. Despite looking younger and less healthy than he does in his Riviera Global cool publicity pix, despite the fact he's sunk more than a couple of brandy and cokes, he still tries to come on with the whole warped and bitter schtick.

"I remember that review of yours. (I panned his performing abilities on the Stiff tour last year.) I was after you for while. Not like I was after Frances Lass of Time Out – I was really after her – but if I'd met you...

"I could still recite your review word for word."

Go ahead; I can hardly recall it myself.

"Forget it. I can't remember it all now."

Being anywhere with Elvis the Cee ensures a highly charged atmosphere. Add his Attractions, his moderately unpleasant quasi-egomaniacal manager, Jake Riviera, a bunch of music press scribblers and a couple of Irish journalists (this is, after all, Belfast) and you'd be stupid to open your mouth to ask the time of day without expecting your ears to he filled with brittle, pointed, sarcastic, even slightly venomous piss-taking. Jake does his whole obnoxious manager trip so successfully that his endless Irish jokes have the Irish writers not only apologising for being Irish and telling Irish jokes themselves but claiming that the jokes were all true, the Irish really were stupid. Even leaving aside the irony that Elvis himself comes from Liverpool Irish stock (and if he's not a bright lad, I'm Kubla Khan), that's like blacks telling a casual racist in all seriousness that they live in trees.

Elvis himself kept quiet, reserving the bite of his tongue for journalists like me, seeing if we could handle it without getting upset. In a peverse kind of way it was like an initiation test. When the Costello bandwagon hits town, you're either on the bus or getting run over by it.

Letting the scene wander round my (slightly drunk) mind, the only parallels I could come up with were film clips of the Beatles being ultra sardonic at 1965 press conferences or more precisely Dylan in Don't Look Back laying into some poor jerk of a journalist in Newcastle. Costello might not be the new Dylan (and he should thank his God for that) but he packs the same kind of whiplash wit. Probably because it comes from the same root – belief in his own talent and abilities and the resultant fierce in-group fear of those strengths being diluted by music business leeches or the uncritical adulation of selfseeking worshippers. He feels – probably correctly – that he needs protection from those blood suckers and so defends himself the only way he knows how – with verbal lashings.

And the velocity of his ascent to the upper realms of the rock and roll scam (first single out a year ago, dismissed as a mere pleasant Nick Lowe/Graham Parker/Van Morrison; now he's got an album going straight into the charts at number four) has been so rapid that it still seems faintly ridiculous that this little creep in Oxfam suits and big glasses be a pop star of at the second magnitude. The pressures must be heavy enough to drive anybody to the wall, maybe even through it.

All I can say is be thankful they haven't destroyed Elvis yet. Before, I'd always rated him very highly as a songwriter but found his live shows superficial. The bitter twisted little man ambience was so heavy-handed that I'd end up laughing. At the Ulster Hall, I saw the blissful light. His presence and the band's playing was so powerful, so – there's no other word for it – wired that it was like watching some kind of high intensity encounter group therapy. I haven't seen such a show since the Clash were playing the clubs. The same feeling that this was all that mattered at the moment. The fear to look away in case you missed the tiniest fraction. Hypnosis but without the exploitation that implies.

The crowd, naturally, was his before he played a note. Six Counties kids starved of rock and roll and too often treated as background misery colour for music press features must have been truly thankful that someone up there on the stage related to them with respect. No banalities about the troubles – like Sham's 'Ulster Boy' – just brief song announcements and a score of songs.

I don't know if you remember the TV puppet show, Thunderbirds but there was a character in it called Brains – all head, no body and big, big glasses. Give that head a body and you've got Elvis. Where in the early days his microphone poses looked forced, now he dances about and beats hell out of his guitar like he's in a self-induced but fully under control trance.

But what gawky marionette comes up with songs of the calibre of Elvis? Starting with a slowly-building 'Waiting For The End Of The World' running through his terse "Good Evening" at the start of the fourth song, his founding statement, 'Less Than Zero', and on the final three encores, he was never less than mesmerising, the band was never less than awesome and the songs were predictably as good as the album and not so predictably, often even better.

Like 'Red Shoes', which in the context seemed even more a song of hopeless hope (deep down, Elvis is the most godawful romantic). Just as everybody else is slowing down their songs, Elvis speeds his up. Peverse little sod, ain't he. But he gets away with it because he is so good, so much his own man. And 'Little Triggers', while it still sounds to these ears like the kind of song that Nick Lowe might have written in his Brinsley days (and that's a compliment), had much more emotion live than it does on record. 'Watching The Detectives' naturally draws the wildest crowd response. It's also the tensest, most dyanamic moment of the set. When Elvis hands his guitar to a roadie half way through and wraps himself round the mike, tearing his throat into the anguish of it all, he looks like a matinee idol trying to come on real for once and succeeding by the sheer power of his belief. Balance that against the aural contrast of the bright, happy organ figures and you've got the kind of paradox that makes Elvis and his Attractions tick.

These days Elvis refers to the Attractions as "the band I'm in" not "my band". The difference is subtle but important but it's what transforms them from just another band into a world-beating outfit. If Patti Smith talks about rock and roll being a substitute for war, the Attractions know it and don't bother talking about it. Bruce Thomas (bass), Pete Thomas (drums) and Steve Naive (organ) – see, you got a name check, boys – provide the colour to turn Elvis's songs into widescreen epics.

As a rock and roll show it could hardly be faulted. The only competition Elvis had was his own shadow, projected high over the organ pipes during 'Night Rally'. I can't think of anyone else currently playing who could even come near.

Peter Silverton has a blog -

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Re: Memories and images of Elvis in Ireland, March 1978

Postby johnfoyle » Wed Mar 26, 2008 1:16 pm

Peter Silverton permits me to share these comments , part of a response to a e-mail I sent asking for any additional memories -

it's funny, all i remember of the show is the invasion — i'm not sure
why i didn't write about it, maybe i forgot (unlikely), maybe i was
hungover (possible), maybe i was deliberately steering away from what
i (as a man of southern irish and liverpool descent myself, with all
that implies about distance from and indifference to the banal
certainties that so dominate the northern discourses) saw as thin,
uninteresting references to the troubles (possible, too)

there's no doubt belfast was being used as a fashion backdrop as
berlin was too, then

elvis was terrified, that's for sure — like all of us he wasn't used
to driving out of an airport to be faced by a british soldier on top
of an armoured car with the engine running behind a gpmg and drawing a
bead on the space between your eyes

we stayed at the europa, by the way and there was something of a
post-show party hosted by elvis' pr, glen colson, who i still see

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Re: Memories and images of Elvis in Ireland, March 1978

Postby verbal gymnastics » Wed Mar 26, 2008 5:54 pm

Fantastic stuff Mr F.

Thanks as ever - this makes great reading.
why don’t you get some pride?

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Re: Memories and images of Elvis in Ireland, March 1978

Postby krm » Wed Mar 26, 2008 7:52 pm

Excellent reading. Thanks for your efforts. I had a similar idea concerning the SWeden tour in summer 1978 but I didn=t manage to conclude it.....

Too bad, it was a real interesting era for us EC addicts.

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Re: Memories and images of Elvis in Ireland, March 1978

Postby johnfoyle » Fri Jan 30, 2009 1:17 pm

The site of Elvis' Irish debut is in the news - ... 71668.html


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Locals appeal demolition of Stella cinema


A PROPOSAL to demolish the 86-year-old Stella cinema on Lower Rathmines Road, Rathmines, Dublin 6 has been appealed to An Bord Pleanála by local residents who fear there is asbestos in its roof.

The residents are opposing a decision by Dublin City Council to grant planning permission to Highfield Estates Ltd to replace the cinema with a four-storey building incorporating a fitness centre on ground and first floor level, shops facing out onto Lower Rathmines Road and four apartments above.

In their appeal to An Bord Pleanála, the residents of Swanville Place ask how Dublin City Council could grant planning permission without a health and safety plan for the removal of what they believe is an asbestos roof on the old two-screen cinema.

Other concerns include the height of the proposed building which they say will “seriously erode light” to their homes and create “a boxed-in effect to the front of the houses at 5-7 Swanville Place” and overshadow the rear of 4 Swanville Place.

They say construction at Swanville has been ongoing for the last five years and neither fire or ambulance services can reach houses at the top of Swanville due to parking and construction traffic.

They are also concerned that developers will use the rear of 5-7 Swanville Terrace for the removal of waste or as a route for building equipment.

They say the foundations of houses at Swanville Place are 200-years-old and are at risk of structural damage.

The Stella cinema opened in 1923 and was bought by the Ward Anderson chain in 2003 from the O’Grady family and closed a year later.

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Re: Memories and images of Elvis in Ireland, March 1978

Postby Ulster Boy » Sun Feb 01, 2009 5:21 am

I was at the Belfast gig in 1978. It was St Patricks Day, though then (as now) that wasn't as big a deal in Belfast as it was in Dublin and elsewhere. My memories of the gig are a little hazy as I'd spent the afternoon at my school's rugby final (which was a big deal - the school had only reached the final once before) and there was quite a bit of cider taken. I do remember Costello's guitar string breaking during Watching the Detectives and being impressed how it didn't faze him. My mates and I hung around after, one of us (not me) got his autograph on a ticket stub, and we were slightly perplexed as to why he got into a fancy car to take him back to his hotel, which was about 200 yards away.

In those days, bands rarely played Belfast and EC & the As were one of the first "punk" bands to do so. The crowd at this and subsequent "punk" gigs, then, was very mixed in terms of old rockers, hippies etc - basically, if you were into music you went to any gigs that happened. The Ulster Hall was and is a great venue - seated balcony and standing ground floor, I'm sure they always let in too many more people than health and safety allowed as it always seemed to be a heaving mass downstairs.

Have seen him on all his subsequent and all too infrequent visits to Belfast - 83, 84, 89, 99 and Landmine Free World show.

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Re: Memories and images of Elvis in Ireland, March 1978

Postby johnfoyle » Thu May 07, 2009 4:25 pm

Nick Ratcliffe's cuttings folder had the original Sounds publication of Peter Silverton's account of the Belfast show. With it was this photo -


The sign clearly indicates that it was taken during the St Patrick's Day parade in Dublin in 1978. It would seem, also , to be a companion shot to these ( as used in the booklet with the Rhino re-issue if TYM) -



It can, therefore , be presumed that Elvis spent the morning after the Dublin show on March 16th at this parade before being flown to Belfast. I'm pretty sure I recognise the streets in the photos. The first is on the west side of St Stephen's Green. The second is on the north side of the Green , outside the Shelbourne hotel. The last is back on Stephens Green West , at the turning to Hume Street ( where there used to be a hospital , where I once had warts removed - but you probably didn't want to know that).

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Re: Memories and images of Elvis in Ireland, March 1978

Postby Ryan » Mon Jun 15, 2009 3:59 pm

What a truly fascinating and informative thread, I enjoyed every word and photograph within!

Oh hello everyone by the way :)

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Re: Memories and images of Elvis in Ireland, March 1978

Postby johnfoyle » Mon Jun 15, 2009 4:08 pm

Welcome Ryan!
I was up in Belfast yesterday for a great gig by Ry Cooder 'n Nick Lowe at the Waterfront. A new building seems to have popped up everytime I go there.

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Re: Memories and images of Elvis in Ireland, March 1978

Postby Ryan » Mon Jun 15, 2009 4:37 pm

Thank you for the welcome John and for the wonderful content in this thread!

Belfast is very much a changing city , very dramatically around the waterfront area in particular. I've lost count of the amount of cranes hurriedly errecting new and shiny office blocks, chain stores and 1 bedroom filing cabinets for exorbanently over mortgaged professionals :)

Thats progress eh ?

No doubt you seen this in Dublin a few years back , our local authorities equation for "Urban Renewal" is the same, build shopping malls , sweep the homeless of the streets , ignore the decaying inner city subarbs and a shiny new starbucks on every corner lol..

Still there are many postives the Waterfront is a fantastic venue and the ulster hall has been restored with great flair and sympathy for its original features. If EC were to play "The Hall" now I would never need to see another gig so long as I lived :)

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Re: Memories and images of Elvis in Ireland, March 1978

Postby johnfoyle » Tue Mar 16, 2010 8:05 am

....and here's a Patricks day 'bump' for this.

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Re: Memories and images of Elvis in Ireland, March 1978

Postby johnfoyle » Tue Apr 26, 2011 2:11 pm

Uncut, June 2011

Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before

By Allan Jones

Who: Elvis Costello
Where: Belfast, March 1978

WHAT HAPPENS next follows a show Elvis Costello & The Attractions play at Belfast's Ulster Hall, a week after the release of This Year's Model. I'm part of a press junket that flies in to see them. The show that night is very lively. The Attractions are blistering. They play something like 18 songs in what seems as many minutes. It's like listening to machine-gun fire, frenzied stuff, barely a gap between numbers.

It's over too soon for the audience, who wants more but don't get it. They're a bit stunned when Elvis rips out his guitar lead and runs offstage, like he's got a bus to catch. The crowd takes awhile to disperse, their cheers turning to boos as the houselights go up. By the time they've cleared the hall, some us are already back at the band's hotel, where a function room's been put aside for a post-gig get-together. It's good to see The Attractions, especially drummer Pete Thomas, who I've known since he was in pub rock stalwarts Chilli Willi & The Red Hot Peppers. There's no sign for the moment of Elvis or his legendarily pugnacious manager, Jake Riviera, so the mood in the room is pretty relaxed.

This changes when Costello arrives with Riviera, a couple of cocky wise-guys looking for balls to break. Elvis seems to be in an especially inclement strop over something you couldn't put a name to, shooting his cuffs like someone walking into a bar who won't be happy until he finds the trouble he's clearly looking for. Jake if it's possible is in an even uglier mood. Let me say here that Jake's got the worst temper of anyone I've ever met, Lou Reed included. If there's one thing I know about him it's that his bite is definitely worse than his bark, which itself is unnerving.

This is especially true of Jake when he's been drinking or doing too much speed, or more often these days now that there's money coming in and he can afford it, the cocaine that makes fools of a lot of us in those bygone days. He scans the room for a likely target or two, someone to lay into with one of his fabled tongue-lashings, verbal onslaughts you would not wish to be on the end of. Pete Thomas recognises the look immediately.

"Let's just step out of the line of fire," he says, steering me to a corner, our backs to the wall. "We should be OK here," he says, "unless we get hit by a ricochet when things go off."

It's not long before the games begin. There's an American journalist here, a decent enough fellow in my opinion, from a New York magazine I enjoy mostly because of his writing. He's a big fan of Elvis and Nick Lowe and his magazine has been very supportive of both. He was in London for other reasons when he was invited on the junket that's brought him fatefully here. Jake now gets hostile in a hurry, letting the room know what he thinks about America and Americans and their many and varied deficiencies, with particular and provocative regard to American music papers and the people who write for them, for whom it would appear he feels nothing but unhindered scorn, a searing contempt. These sentiments Jake now communicates to our American friend in colourfully uncompromising terms.

"Ouch," whispers Pete Thomas, a veteran witness of many such humiliations, adding that if he's not mistaken, and he's not, that Elvis will have a pop next. He does, too, and it's like watching him audition for the principal role in a remake of Don’t Look Back, Jake a bellicose Bobby Neuwirth to Costello's scowling Dylan, a toxic mix of cruelty and cool. I can't hear what he says now to the hapless American in our midst, but it provokes an indignant response on the American's part.

"Hey man," he says, on the point of spluttering. "I gave your record a good review."

"Big fucking deal," Jake says, sharply, biting down on the words like a shark on a leg. "What do you want, a Pulitzer-fucking-Prize?"

The journalist looks for a moment like he's going to make more of this than he actually does. He starts to say something, then seems to realise that whatever he says will just give Jake an excuse to push him further, to that point perhaps where people run out of words, shouting won't do and chairs start flying. Jake looks like that's exactly where he wants things to go and the opportunity that will come then to wade in and slap someone around.

"Just because someone gives me a good review doesn't mean that I'm going to fall at their feet," Elvis announces then, although no-one to my knowledge has suggested this particular course of action, even as a joke.

`I don't need you or you or you, or him, or anyone," he says, accounting with a single sweeping glare for the people in the room who aren't on his payroll, "to tell me that I'm good. I know how good I am, thanks. I didn't need anyone to tell me that This Year's Model is a great album. It's my fucking record, I made the fucking thing, wrote the fucking songs and you’re telling me how good it is? What's the matter with you people? I know exactly how good it is. Show some fucking imagination when you write about me or don't bother writing about me at all. Do you even understand what I'm saying?"

No-one answers, probably assuming that if they do they'll be throwing themselves in as bait, and quickly chewed up. An uneasy silence prevails. Then a fellow from the London Evening Standard, their pop writer, an affable toff with the languid air of the bass player in a band with connections to the Canterbury Scene, asks Costello if he's flattered when people compare him to Bob Dylan.

"I don't give a shit about Bob Dylan," Costello snaps. "I've already forgotten who he was." This isn't true, of course. It's just an example of the kind of contemptuous comment at which EC in the months ahead becomes well practiced, as if it's a contractual obligation. He gets away with it here, but 12 months hence when he offers an even more outrageous opinion about Ray Charles in an infamous row in America with Bonnie Bramlett and Stephen Stills on the Armed Forces tour, his world comes crashing down around him.

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Re: Memories and images of Elvis in Ireland, March 1978

Postby Jack of All Parades » Tue Apr 26, 2011 4:29 pm

That is an ugly persona to try to maintain over a period of time. In hindsight glad he had that 'come to jesus' epiphany moment in Columbus a year later. That 'angry young man persona' did not play well then and would have worn out its welcome with me quickly.
"....there's a merry song that starts in 'I' and ends in 'You', as many famous pop songs do....'

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Re: Memories and images of Elvis in Ireland, March 1978

Postby johnfoyle » Wed Jun 08, 2011 5:33 pm

Interesting Dublin fanzine image of Elvis from 1978 ... -be-irish/

Dublin Fanzine – Heat issue 10 – 1978 – Hip to be Irish!

Posted on May 22, 2011 by dubdoug

Above is a scan of the front and back cover of Heat 10 from end of 1978, early 1979.

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Re: Memories and images of Elvis in Ireland, March 1978

Postby johnfoyle » Thu Jun 27, 2013 4:52 pm

An American account of the Belfast gig is now on wiki - ... _June_1978

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Re: Memories and images of Elvis in Ireland, March 1978

Postby johnfoyle » Tue Jul 30, 2013 12:56 am

Allan Jones' Melody Maker account of the Belfast show is now on wiki - ... h_25,_1978


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Re: Memories and images of Elvis in Ireland, March 1978

Postby johnfoyle » Tue Nov 12, 2013 2:50 pm

Thanks to Karl Tsigdinos for this epic piece of memorabilia. Karl had helped me with research about this show and he's just found his ticket.


Paul Hewson & Dave Evans were also at this gig, Dave being so hard up that he had to walk miles home afterwards. Days later they changed the name of their band from The Hype to U2, a story Bono & The Edge told on the Spectacle tv show

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Re: Memories and images of Elvis in Ireland, March 1978

Postby johnfoyle » Sun Nov 24, 2013 5:55 am

The John Peel session recorded a few days before this , new to youtube -

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Re: Memories and images of Elvis in Ireland, March 1978

Postby johnfoyle » Sun Dec 15, 2013 8:06 am

Going to the swimming pool in Rathmines this morning I happened on this - the 'Stella' signage being removed for 'safety reasons' - feck! No respect for The Elvis Costello Heritage Trail!




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Re: Memories and images of Elvis in Ireland, March 1978

Postby johnfoyle » Mon Mar 17, 2014 10:05 am

For the day that's in it - Elvis in Ireland on Paddys day, 1978

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