Memories of Elvis in Macroom, Ireland in 1981 - new clip of Strict Time

Pretty self-explanatory
johnfoyle
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Memories of Elvis in Macroom, Ireland in 1981 - new clip of Strict Time

Postby johnfoyle » Sun Jun 19, 2011 8:04 am

' I wouldn't have remembered seeing Elvis at Macroom if the review hadn't reminded me. I have very distinct memories of many other Elvis Costello gigs I attended, but not this one. I can tell that I was disappointed that the audience weren't as into him as I was. He was the most important singer-songwriter alive for me in those days'

Neil McCormick, April 2011

Neil's response was typical of the feedback I got when asking people for memories of Elvis Costello's second show in the Republic of Ireland. Clearly I was going to have to dig up whatever I could find from the time to tell the story of this concert. It got widely different reactions. At the centre is a Elvis Costello thats very different to the confident, assured performer of 2011, happy to receive the acclaim of a , perhaps, limited but dedicated fanbase. Back then it was a different story.

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In late June 1981 Irish pop fans were looking forward to a weekend of music in Macroom , Co. Cork. Ending the fifth annual Mountain Dew Festival it would be a welcome break from a frantic month. A General Election campaign had dominated the news. A inconclusive result meant a coalition government was being negotiated in Dublin that same weekend. Many of the teenage fans had just done state exams, finishing just the day before. The 'troubles' in Northern Ireland had taken a emotive turn the hunger strikes in the Maze Prison, Belfast. In the wider world on the opening day of the Wimbledon tennis tournament the previous Monday John McEnroe made his famous "You can't be serious!" complaint to the umpire. The pop music charts were headed by a six year old song . Such was the the success of Michael Jackson's 1979 album Off The Wall , it was possible for his old record label Motown to get
a number one with the 1975 recording One Day In Your Life. With efforts by Shakin' Stevens and the like also featuring it was clear the demand for disposable pop was strong. The Specials Ghost Town was soundtracking the discontent being felt in the U.K. about the three year old Thatcher administration. In the U.S. medical journals were reporting a disease that seemed to mainly affect the gay community.

Irish pop fans had only just started being catered for in full. RTE Radio 2 ' 2FM' had started in 1979 and had
been a huge success. The DJs were treated like pop stars , getting adulation on their 'Roadcaster' forays from their Dublin base. Accounts of Macroom '81 are littered with references to their presence so it seems safe to assume that the festival was promoted heavily by them. Leading 'alternative' 2FM DJ Dave Fanning was the MC for the weekend. Dave is still one of RTE's leading broadcasters. Like Neil McCormick , he can't remember the festival but, in a 'phone call, he tells me he'll have a look at this account and see if it sparks any memories.


In all it was a strange fit for the return to Ireland of Elvis Costello. In the three years since he had
played Dublin and Belfast in March 1978 he had nearly become a pop star and had released a series of albums, each one more challenging then the last. Trust was the latest and had been a disappointment in commercial terms. Unknown to most of the crowd Elvis had just recorded his 'country' album 'Almost Blue'. His personal life was in turmoil. Elvis' notes for re-issues of albums from the period tell the tale.

It suggested a tarnished and disappointed soul looking beyond the certainties of brash, arrogant youth and early success and on into a life (and possibly a career) in music. ( Trust) Much had happened to me in that time – from scandal to disgrace, near-divorce, and the end of something like pop-stardom....Gram Parsons’ “How Much I Lied”. This guilt stricken song lay at the heart of my song choices. The previous four years had seen my marriage come close to collapse on several occasions ( Almost Blue).It was being an “adult” that was most of the problem, that and the fact there seemed to be little time for “sober reflection”. The public and private upheavals of the previous four or five years had heightened my already melancholy disposition. I intend that most “private” matters should remain that way, but when the opening track is called “Beyond Belief”,and the key song of a record is entitled “Man Out Of Time”,you don’t have to be a
psychiatrist to work out what was going on ( Imperial Bedroom)


As Paul Morley was to comment later that year, watching Elvis in such circumstances was like " trying to read Dostoyevsky in a cold waiting room in Crewe surrounded by bored United fans". Elvis was beyond the fickle pop audience but the industry wasn't ready to admit that.

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With his management trying to figure out how to market him it must have seemed a obvious move to play the summer festivals across Europe and rake in some cash. A recording of the show in Leeds , four days before Macroom, features a tight, well structured show being met with adulation. After being glorified sessions musicians in Nashville
The Attractions must have been glad to remind everyone what they did best. Besides his own 'hit' songs there were James Brown and Brook Benton songs and, in a fast 'n furious manner , a Hank Williams cover.

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Having left Ireland in '78 with the words of Olivers Army formulating in his head, it's ironic that Elvis 'n
co. were heading for townland long associated with the same Oliver Cromwell. Coolcower, outside Macroom, was for hundreds of years owned by the Browne family .They acquired the land under the 'Act For
Adventurers' (1642) , devised by Cromwell to 'subdue Ireland and establish the Protestant religion'. Out of the the Brownes hands since the 1900s the 416 acre townland on the banks of the River Leewas available for hire and was rented for the music festival. It was decided by Macroom Junior Chamber that the line-up would draw a crowd that the usual venue , Macroom Castle, would not be able to cope with. Elvis was to head the first night with The Pretenders heading the day after. Recording commitments meant Chrissie Hynde 'n co. couldn' t make it so the Undertones were switched from supporting Elvis to filling the Sunday head line slot. Considering how Elvis' show was received its interesting to speculate how it might have been different if the original line-up had been kept too.

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First on the bill that Saturday was someone who had seen Elvis in Dublin in '78. Ferdia Mac Anna had started had gigging in the late 70s , assuming the name Rocky De Valera and The Gravediggers. They mutated into The Rhythm Kings by 1981. Yet again Ferdia didn't remember the show but refered me to this 1982 account -


http://www.elviscostello.info/wiki/inde ... ,_May_1982


The first thing I remember about the Macroom Festival site was its size. It seemed tiny – just a hollow field with a covered stage in one corner. People were still trickling in, nosing the ground looking for mud-free patches to call home. Others, usually wearing Motorhead T-shirts, flopped down anywhere, getting themselves tuned up for the expected barrage of mud, blood, beer and rock ‘n’ roll.


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Melody Maker journalist Allan Jones started his account with

http://www.elviscostello.info/wiki/inde ... y_11,_1981

Vision on for the great, outdoors and the fearfully familiar parameters of the open air festival.The hash and the cowdung and the rancid odour of puke and stale beersoaking into unwashed denims; marauding gangs of pissed-up bullies
terrorising whacked-out hippies; fumbling couples screwing in sweaty sleeping bags; the early casualities, face down it the clover with their chemical shakes; the obligatory heavy metal band with their perms and their pin-hipped boilers crowding the backstage area, the hacks, usually legless at the bar.

Set in a sloping field somewhere in County Cork, the Macroom Festival witnessed the evitable delights that have become synonymous with the typical alfresco rock ‘n roll Armageddon. Fortunately, Macroom also witnessed Elvis Costello, Paul Brady and the Rhythm Kings. Between them, they managed to make the idea of sitting in an open field for two days seem almost worthwhile.



Ferdia -

We were the first band on that day, and we took the stage to a half-full field and strange, vicious looking rainclouds bobbing overhead like vampires waiting for the midnight bell. We played for thirty minutes and went down well – I remember being able to spot familiar faces in the audience, dancing, cat-calling and, in one case, giving me the finger. It was like playing in your back garden.

Dubliner Neil McCormick needed , as the earlier quote shows, to be reminded of being in Macroom in '81. Now a journalist with the Daily Telegraph he was then attempting to launch a music career as well at writing for Dublin magazine Hot Press. His memoir ( I Was Bono's Doppelganger , 2004, basis of the film Killing Bono) doesn't mention Macroom. Two days before the Cork show Hot Press had a awards show . Neil happily tells of various
mishaps at it and how he was nicknamed 'Hoover Factory' ( 'after a Elvis Costello b-side') because of his cocaine use.

Neil commented , for HP, on the Rhythm Kings


A 12-BAR introduction to the day’s events, Rocky De Valera warmed up everything but the sun with some spirited good rockin’ this morning. Rock has come a long way from his Gravediggin’ days, and while The Rhythm Kings have maintained that rock ’n’ roll raunch they have moved up-market from the former band in both scope and showmanship.

The Rhythm Kings follow a British line in R ‘n’ B and other gymnastics, aggressive but good humoured what they lack in
instrumental skill is made up for in zest. Rocky teased the crowd like a true star, gangly and gravelly voiced, camping things up and boogieing down...

The mood here was up, and so is The Rhythm Kings’ path. Arrangements could be strengthened and varied a great deal, the play-acting brought up-front to make this a show! The Rhythm Kings demonstrated that they could please the crowd but they paled into significance alongside The Blues Band , who later in the day showed exactly what it took to be
masters of the genre.


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Next up were The Moondogs , a Northern Irish band who had their own tv series at the time 'Moondog Matinee'.


Neil
-

(extract)

The Moondogs proved to be the lowpoint of the Macroom Festival. Somebody took this band out of the youth club too soon...turgid, badly played, woefully sung, overlong...

It began to get cloudy and the field seemed lumpy, on the dark side of the moon, the dog side of Macroom


(' It was great to read my own review from so many years ago, the passion, the flair, the terrible grammar ...' Neil , April 2011, e-mail)



Meanwhile , backstage -

Ferdia -

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The backstage beer tent was a hotel hidden in the woods where musicians, roadies, managers, promoters, liggers and other assorted dorks hung out and drank themselves catatonic. Some people just sat at the bar the whole time, listening to reports of the festival, quizzing others who’d seen the bands and eventually going home convinced they’d seen a tremendous series of concerts. It was reasonably easy to sort out who was who backstage – anyone sweating or disheveled was a musician just finished onstage, dudes who looked worried were managers, people in T-shirts and knuckledusters were bouncers, allroadies walked at seventy mph, and anyone with a can of beer in their hand was personal friend of the bands having one hell of a goodtime.


Allan
-

Sheehan and I headed for the bar and an immediate collision with Jake Riviera, who'd just arrived with his boy Elvis. Jake came whistling through the crowd like an impatient hurricane coming down from a weekend on dodgy speed. The Costello roadcrew lined up to be jabbed in the chest; loudly berated, but clearly used to it; they trooped off to the bar. I asked Jake how he was feeling.

"Angry" he snapped, his jaws clamping together with a force that might've lefthim in need of dental treatment. He went off to sit on the wall overlooking the river to cool down.

"Nice to see Jake in such a good mood for a change" Sheehan remarked, cautiously lowering his voice. Elvoid, meanwhile was lurking about in the doorway of his dressing room, a wide brimmed trilby pulled downover his shades, the collar of his KGB overcoat pulled up around his ears. He looked like he might come over at any time and ask us to hand over the plans of the tractor factory. Eventually he did comeover, shook hands appearing the very definition of friendliness.


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On stage -

Liam Mackey (July 1981, Hot Press)

( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IzEDgH-3 ... ure=fvwrel, a Blues
Band show from the time)


THE BLUES BAND are fine ambassadors for the Devil's Music in 1981, and their eminently enjoyable set at Macroom offered convincing proof that the blues can cross over from club setting to festivalstatus without sacrificing its true grit appeal.

Presenting a fine balance of musicianship and showmanship, The Blues Band hit the stage like storm-troopers and Proceeded to rip it up in time-honoured fashion. Their set was, by most people's reckoning, the first one of the festival to really ignite the audience and generate the requisite sense of occasion.

The band are, needless to say, seasoned operators, but they all give off a thoroughly infectious feeling of freshness and vitality. Paul Jones remains one of the finest white R & 8 singers on the go, while his harp playing displays a genuine understanding of the wild emotion the instrument is capable of putting out. Kudos must go too to Dave Kelly whose slide guitar playing was sometimes mesmeric.

Highlights for me were Willie Dixon's hilarious '29 Ways’ ,the band's own "Sus Blues" and a celebratory version of "Maggie’s Farm" which formed the context for some front-0f-stage’ contributions, with a particularly electrifying helping hand offered by Paul Brady. One other thing worth mentioning: it was novel and nice to see The Blues Band defusing the sometimes overbearing macho tendencies implicit in a lot of the old songs. During ‘Treat Her Right’ for example, Paul Jones embarked on a neat rap somewhere along the lines of "Now maybe there's some women out there who'd rather treat their woman right and maybe theres some men out there who'd rather treat their man right' , well that's fine by me", ending on a humorous note with ‘What went is SEX!"— long pause then... "-ual equality!!'

It's good to see a contemporary blues band whose attitude to the music is comprised of equal parts intelligence, commitment and irreverence. With The Blues Band what they are is what you get. 'Nuff said?


Dave Kelly
remembers ( June 2011, e-mail) -

During Maggie's Farm Paul Jones spotted Paul Brady in front of the stage and got him to sing a chorus.

Tom McGuinness' aunt had come along from Clonakilty and was interviewed by a journalist who had been introduced to Tom, whilst he was chatting with his aunt. When asked what she thought of the band she said " I wouldn't cross the road to see them" - praise indeed !

I remember Elvis' tour manager being snotty about clearing the backstage area before he went on and I remember us being equally snotty about not shifting.



Ferdia -

Elvis Costello kept everyone waiting. Then the backstage area was suddenly cleared, a carpet was fetched to cover the stage, and a hush fell over the assembled throngs as rumours of his impending arrival spread quicker than a plate of Stork margarine in the sun, until finally the clouds parted, the sun bounced out and there he was beforeus. He played OK.


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Una O'Hagan, Sunday World , July 5 1981

(extract)

Mr Costello may not have Bette Grable's eyes but he seems to have Howard Hughes' paranoia. He forbade any interviews with the press. Neither would he allow any pictures from the back of the stage. However Sunday World photographer Tom McElroy did manage to snatch a photograph from the backstage area.

Elvis Costello did not want anyone to even catch a glimpse of him - he was rushed from car to caravan to stage and back again, like an American President.


ImageImage Photos: Eddie O'Hare

ImageImagePhotos: Colm Henry


Allan
-

Vibing off the set with a rogue assault on James Brown’s”I Got You”, Costello and the Attractions were five numbers into their set, raging full-tilt with no hands on the throttle through a mighty version of“Clubland” before I caught my first breath.

Designed almost spontaneously to alarm and provoke, to test, challenge, amuse and possibly infuriate, this was clearly going to be one of those famous Costello gigs that transcended all the normal definitions of rock'n'roll's thrills and spills and sentimental communions. Costello doesn't invite his audience to participate in cosy singalongs; he prefers to remind them of the murderous realities and hilariously bleak ironies; with Costello we dance to the rhythms of disaster, the gloves are off and every damned song can make you break down and cry.

He's as pitiless on his audience as he is on himself. Listening to "Human Hands” felt like strips of cheese-wire were cutting the corners of my heart: it was frightened, vulnerable, brave; an agnostic hymn.

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A curious violence gripped the crowd as they surged forward toward the stage, eyes rolling like vowels off a yokel’s tongue: “Watch Your Step” assumed an awful pertinence as cans rained over the wire fence that separated the stage from the front ranks of the increasingly belligerent audience.


Clearly bemused and impatient with the bewildering hostility, Costello swerved into "The Beat", sat on the riff: "We’ve been playing this riff for a long time now," he shouted eventually, almost hoarse with a desperate anger,”and we can play it for a lot longer..." More cans and assorted missiles bruised the front of the stage. Costello shook his
head. "As if we weren't in enough trouble, assholes," he glared.

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"New Lace Sleeves” segue into a brittle “Lovers Walk",which was followed by a version of (gulp)”Alison" that almost had me on the deck with a coat over my head. Even this concession, playing an old favourite to placate the crowd, didn't halt the primitive aerial bombardment.”Well" Costello sneered, "I was hoping this was going to be a cheerful occasion, but it looks like some of you fuckers have other ideas.”

Provoked now, Elvis launched into a final six song salvo that reminded you that he's got more to say on more fronts than any other contemporary rock ‘n roll writer: the sheer intelligence of his writing is breathtaking, and when that intelligence is allied to the ferociously marshalled attack of the Attractions, well, the competition might as well dig its own grave now.

It results, you see, in moments of mesmerising power like the version of "Clowntime Is Over" that they performed at Macroom, or thedesperate passion with which they invested “Big Sisters Clothes". This was rock music that affected every moment of your life; a guerrilla attack by the most potent emotional and political songwriter currently trying to bother your conscience.

Costello's fourth encore was dedicated to the mindless nutters who'd tried to disrupt his gig; it was a Nick Lowe song and it was called “What’s So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love And Understanding”: by the end Sheehan and I were speechless.

Neil -

A fistful of dynamite, Elvis Costello is electric, impassioned alive. Short, fat, not so cuddly, he breaks hearts and rules, he has to be seen, he has to be believed. , but too many eyelids here were heavy with drink, brains befuddled by static reactions.... I make no bones about my admiration for this man; I was enraptured, bedazzled and bewildered. As a songwriter he has pushed pop to new limits of literacy, his way with words never stepping beyond the essential gate-posts of insight and intent. His melodies are insidious and..well...melodic. They exist to be sung. And his singing...

The essence of soul and conviction, Elvis’ tones are soft, his scale wide. Who would expect so much life and feeling could be breathed into a song as old as “Alison” – but tonight’s live version was superior even to the record. The Attractions adding their own particularly intelligent and heartfelt arrangement, while Elvis stumbled over those heart-rending phrases – not with Ferry-like troubadour romance, but with concentration, care, hurt. “My aim is true...My aim...” was whispered, breathed, lost, sometimes carried in silence and expression “...is true”.

Pop songs popped, slow songs crushed,” Clowntime is Over” stood tall in whispered magnificence, a waltzing “Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down” proved shockingly soulful. “Watching The Detectives” went uptown
with a real reggae centre, James Brown’s “I Got You” kicked off proceedings with a raunch and other soul and rock ‘n’ roll covers produced smiles of amusement and amazement. New song “Human Hands” intrigued, as did a very strange intro to “King Horse”. And there was more.

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But aspects of this concert that will leave the strongest impressions were not the performance but the ironies and contradictions it threw up, both onstage and off. Firstly in Costello himself, and the crowd he is capable of pulling – not as big as expected, or as interested. His backstage demeanour, no photographs, no interviews, no mixing, proved irksome to assorted liggers but is not in itself unadmirable. Costello, it seems, wishes to concern himself with writing and performing and not with its peripheral distractions, but the machine that has grown up around him, with is aura of heaviness, is
unnecessary and a little sad. Sad because it appears to be damaging his career, the aura of mystery it once created having given way to disinterest and irritation. His public persona is down solely to his records, which despite maintaining, even escalating standards, would appear to suffer from falling sales. Macroom’s young audience did not appear to be as attracted to Elvis as they were to The Undertones the next day, those lads being, after all , pop stars.

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And it is sad because the crowd was not really rooting for Elvis, did not follow or understand him. You could say, with is seriousness, the heaviness of emotional output, that Elvis was not exactly festival material , but given a more positive interaction on both parts, he could have been, because these are the people he writes about and for. “I hoped this might be a happy occasion” he said at one point, as another can hurled stage ward, another person got punched. Instead it was an occasion with much ignorance on display. Mohican haired punks threw things while Elvis sang of the ignorance of mis-education: “And you say, Your teachers never told you anything but white lies, but you don’t see the lies, and you believe...” They chanted ‘Elvis’: this man was a punk after all, wasn’t he? He played Alison, from his punk days. They stormed the front stage, punching and kicking, while he sang ‘What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace Love And Understanding?”. Laugh? I could have cried. I probably should have.

“I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down”
seemed an appropriate theme tune.

One more thought: As the sun set over the hills , Elvis uttered that vehement, punching phrase “ It’s The Beat” with a disgust that was almost physical, The clouds grew darker, a ragged cheer was raised, a man in front of me was hit by a can and blood appeared above his eye.

On the up-beat.


Audience member Liam O'Connor ( e-mail, June 2011)


I liked Elvis Costello and was looking forward to seeing him on stage but he didn't seem to connect with the crowd. It felt like there was something missing then the crowd started booing so what I was looking
forward to turned out a let down. Maybe the crowd didn't give him a chance.



Irish newspapers had varying reactions -


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Irish Independent, June 29 1981

By TONY O'BRIEN
in Macroom

LOUD rock music and nearly 10,000 dedicated fans helped swell the funds of a boys': club and the local Girl Guides in Macroom, Co. Cork, at the weekend.
Paying £12 for a weekend ticket, the huge crowd endured nearly 15 hours of 'rock music during the fifth Macroom Music Festival.

And in the two days, Gardai made only a handful of arrests for minor drug offences and petty larceny.

As the crowd enjoyed an international line-up which included top British acts Elvis Costello and the Attractions, and the Blues Band as well as leading Irish bands, they were adding to the funds of two local charities.

The two day rock event -which cost more than £60,000 to stage — came as the culmination of the week long fifth Macroom Mountain Dew Festival.

Money raised from the festival goes to local charities and this year it is the turn of Macroom Boys Club and Girl Guides.

About £2,000 will be raised from the festival.

Gardai patrolled the site but kept a low profile and stewarding was left to 150 specially-employed security men.

The rock festival opened on Saturday afternoon on a site leased from a local family and about a mile from Macroom town.

Under an indifferent sky a crowd of more than 8,000 reacted listlessly to the music blasting at them from a 15,000 watt sound system until the arrival of the Blues Band just before 7 o'clock.

The band, led by ex-Manfred Mann pop idol Paul Jones, had the crowd shouting for more with a blistering delivery of blues standards in the same way they lifted last year's Lisdoonvarna festival out of the doldrums.

And then, amid tight security and the attention of a burl- road crew, the star of the Festival, Elvis Costello arrived. Pressmen and even his own record company were banned from his presence.

Costello, with the aid of the Attractions, turned in a worthy performance — despite poor sound — which marred only by his own arrogant attitude and the heavy handedness of his henchmen.

A bout of can throw broke out at the front of the stage and Costello was force to interrupt his act to reprimand the trouble-makers before things quietened down again.

With Costello off the stage and into a waiting limousine by two minutes past 10 to be whisked back to his Cork hotel, the crowd disperse quietly and contendly to the tents, cars, pubs, guest houses, and hotels.


Yesterday the show kept to a stricter schedule with Scullion opening the show followed by Q-Tips. Then it was the turn of Ireland's latest rising rock star, Paul Brady.

British hard rock ban Wishbone Ash played a work manlike but mediocre set before Derry's proudest sons the Undertones, took to the stage and brought the festival to a happy climax.

The Cork Examiner, 29 June 1981
Declan Colly/Mark Woods

(extract)

Elvis Costello and the Attractions topped the bill in fine style. They played numbers from all four of the band's albums and delighted the crowd with great versions of early numbers like Alison and Watching the Detectives as well as new songs like the recent single Clubland.


Catlicks ( gossip column) , Hot Press , July 1981

(extract)

We'd hardly recovered from Thursday night's festivities before we found ourselves at the Macroom festival last weekend. The turn-out was undoubtedly disappointing, but with the exception of some minor meathead antics during Elvis Costello's set, everything went A-OK. As for Elvis, the only real sighting anyone had of him was when he was on-stage. The rest of the time, he spent sequestered behind closed hotel doors manned by two venerable gents of the local constabulary. And when it came to gig-time, the backstage area was completely cleared to make way for the man's entrance. Ah, well...

The Echo ( Cork), June 29 1981 – Michael Moloney

( extract)

Top billing on Saturday evening was given to Elvis Costello. He performed many of his chart successes such as 'Oliver's Army' and `Accidents Will Happen' and others. And although he may not move like his late namesake, he reproduced his music finely on stage with his band providing firm support. The inclusion of a superstar such as Costello is a fair indication of the esteem with which the festival now holds internationally.


The Sunday World, July 5 1981

Una O'Hagan

( extract)

Macroom was downer. The sound system was bad, the security worse and atmosphere non-existent.

The PA broke down numerous times during the two day rock festival....

The overall quality of the sound would have been good enough for a country dog track. For a 'major' rock festival it was the pits. Security was lax. The barrier at the front of the stage was too low and too weak and was torn down during Elvis Costello's performance.There was not festival atmosphere. The crowd was dour and for the most part listened listlessly to the music, only dancing to a couple of songs.

The act everyone had been waiting for was a huge disappointment. Elvis played but his heart wasn't in it. It seemed as if he hated the audience and was only there for the money. There was no rapport between the audience and artist. His performance was not improved by the can-stone-bottle-throwing of a small section of the crowd.


The field in Coolcower is no longer there - a factory was built on the site in 1985. Coolcower House is still operating -

http://www.coolcowerhouse.ie/




Paul Charles
, promoter ( April 2011, e-mail)

All I remember is it being a power house show with Elvis singing his heart (and his voice) out and being totally hoarse afterwards. I also remember us all going back to the Metropole Hotel afterwards and Elvis and manager, Jake Riviera, retiring to their rooms only to return to the hotel bar about 30 minutes later both decked out in the finest sets of threads I'd ever seen! Yes, they made a grandest of entrances and the girls positively swooned over them.


Allan
-

Later that night I was talking to Pete Thomas, they Attractions' drummer, about the gig. "We're always good, no doubt about it,” he said.

” Tonight, I thought we were absolutely damned special. Tonight I was proud to be backing my frontman.I thought he gave it a damn good hiding”

Elvis ambushed me at the bar of the Metropole Hotel and held me spellbound for over an hour: his conversation was by turns fleetingly revealing, sometimes hilarious.



The other attractions in Cork city in June 1981 -

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With the dates in Scandinavia a week away it may be safe to assume that some of Elvis' entourage may have stayed on in Cork for a day or two. During July many of the songs that would make up 1982's Imperial Bedroom would be written, getting first performances in a one-off show in Newcastle in late August. A song that was only ever played live at that show wouldn't make that album (only appearing in album re-issues many years later) was called The Town Where Time Stood Still. It's George Jones/Billy Sherrill reference ("Almost Persuaded" ) aside its hard not to place it in and see it being inspired by a place like Cork, the Republic's second city. Well, I'm a Dubliner and I would think that!

http://www.elviscostello.info/wiki/inde ... tood_Still

http://www.mediafire.com/?ji57bvfnkdimxfn

( extract)

Somebody in charge must have pretended
The future's been suspended
And I say I don't want trouble
But I find myself back in it
In the town where time stood still
I am the man of the minute


And so I woke up in the town where time stood still
With a headache and a heartache
And a handful of pills
A welcome mat, a scandal rag and unpaid bills



A arts show on Irish tv had a report from the festival the following week, on RTE 2 , on July 1 '81, 'Summerhouse', just before the Dick Emery Show -

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Its archived details include a interesting condition -

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RTE are still abiding by this restriction. Thankfully, however, a recording from the broadcast has survived, product of the few video recorders that were around then. It's blotchy , flakey state is curiously appropriate , considering the frantic events of that evening.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IS1bxrw3dG4


My memories of June 1981 are vague. Then sixteen, the week before Macroom I finished state exams in school, the 'Inter Cert', designed to decide what levels , pass or honours, would be appropriate in 'Leaving Cert' exams two years later. My diary from the time shows-

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I have a memory of being let see the tv broadcast. The backstage photo from the July 5th '81 Sunday World has been in my cuttings folder since then so I must have been on the look out for coverage...or happened on it after checking out the publications then stand-alone role as being one of the ruder Irish newspapers!


In restrospect, 1981 is very much a 'year zero' for me in music terms. Joe Jackson released Jumpin' Jive and got me interested in Jazz and Swing. Elvis picked a Frank Sinatra album as My Favourite Album ,

http://www.elviscostello.info/wiki/inde ... The_Lonely

leading me to that and many others like it. The October release of Almost Blue re-defined country music for me.
Previously it had been associated with tepid, formulaic efforts byIrish acts like Big Tom and The Mainliners . Seeking and finding the originals of Elvis' songs lead to Gram Parsons, The Byrds etc.




That would , of course, take years, until I had money from work to spend on them and, crucially, they became
available. Like Elvis and his suitcases of vinyl returning from U.S. tours it would be a matter of giving money to friends travelling to the U.K. to get discs. Or placing 'want' ads. in Record Collector , spending hours going through the 'for sale' listings in the samemagazine etc.

I was , though, already choosing music outside the 1980s pop area. My favourite show on 2FM was the weekend oldies show hosted by Brendan Balfe. As he played crackly vinyl, many with the echoey sound of primitive mastering techniques, I found myself listening to acts long out of the charts. Letters I sent in early '81 to my Uncle Eddie in the U.S. ( returned after his death) include comments on the precious few albums I had , including records by Gene
Vincent
and the Mamas & Papas. In August I sent him a compilation cassette. It was done in a friend's house for simple reason that his Dad had a 'three in one' (radio/cassette-player/turntable) system. The accompanying note shows some bizarre inclusions -

Image

It also shows that I had at least one Costello disc , the New Amsterdam EP.

It's been interesting re-visiting 1981, finding out more about some things that I just about remember etc. It was a early sign of how ever changing Elvis Costello can be - something that still goes on.



Thanks to the following for help with this - Dave Palmer, Caleb Charny, Colin Barrett, Neil McCormick, Paul Russell, Dave Fanning, Ferdia Mac Anna, Gilly/Dave Kelly, Vicky Moran/RTE Archives, The National Library of Ireland and Evelyn Casey/Coolcower House.

Additional coverage is at the shows wiki page -

http://www.elviscostello.info/wiki/inde ... 27_Macroom

The Brownes Of Coolcower
by Elsa Hepburn ( 2001) was also consulted.
Last edited by johnfoyle on Mon Aug 05, 2013 6:48 am, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: Memories of Elvis in Macroom, Ireland in 1981

Postby terryhurley » Sun Jun 19, 2011 10:51 am

Outstanding and interesting piece of work, John. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this.

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Re: Memories of Elvis in Macroom, Ireland in 1981

Postby Boy With A Problem » Sun Jun 19, 2011 4:30 pm

Thanks for all that John. It really deserves a wider audience than this.

1981 was the year I graduated from high school and also the year I attended my first Elvis show (Boston in February - English Mugs Tour with Squeeze) - he had the audience firmly with him that night.

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Re: Memories of Elvis in Macroom, Ireland in 1981

Postby verbal gymnastics » Mon Jun 20, 2011 10:27 am

Fantastic stuff John.

However the highlight of it is the picture of you :lol:

Were you and Fergal Sharkey separated at birth?
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Re: Memories of Elvis in Macroom, Ireland in 1981

Postby Poor Deportee » Wed Aug 17, 2011 9:10 am

There is something esoterically fascinating about this - taking a single, noteworthy moment in the life of an artist and tracing the response and interpretation to that moment across a range of sources (artist, colleagues, critics, fans). The career and identity of the artist become compressed into that single focal event, even as the meaning of that event (and thus of the artist and his work) is contested. It would make for an wild book, to track the changes in the way EC is 'constructed' as an artist and performer by closely examining certain key concerts over the course of his career. I'm not talking here about the obsessive Paul Williams approach to Dylan...more of a series of incredibly fine-grained snapshots across time. Really interesting. Albeit fairly obscure :wink:
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Re: Memories of Elvis in Macroom, Ireland in 1981

Postby johnfoyle » Wed Aug 17, 2011 12:49 pm

Thanks 'Deportee!

Image


The Sunday World journalist, Una O'Hagan, who covered the show now works for RTE News. I sent her a link to this and she has kindly sent this reaction -


Thanks for the link - it made for really interesting reading and I'm more reassured that I actually got the tone right! Re-reading the piece, it sounds rather harsh and judgmental but I was only 19 at the time. That's either the courage or arrogance of youth - maybe it's a bit of both. I know it was honestly written at the time.

I wasn't one of the liggers, hangers-on, poseurs that populated the backstage area as described by Ferdia Mac Anna. I probably identified with the audience more than most. There most definitely was an undercurrent of violence at the gig and the simmering resentment that Elvis Costello seemed to give off just ignited the whole thing. Then again, when a band was good and engaged with the audience they reacted positively.


The only other memory I have - which I didn't include in the piece - was of two heavies beating up a kid who tried to get backstage during the set. In fact, the whole security thing was completely overdone by the Elvis crew. In contrast, I remember chatting backstage with Fergal Sharkey of the Undertones and his pregnant wife who was knitting a baby cardigan!

There most definitely was great freedom given to reporters at the Sunday World at the time. My boss would have greatly enjoyed a reporter not kowtowing to 'the powers that be' in the music world. I also didn't want to end up as a music reporter, so had even more freedom to write what I wanted.

Unfortunately, I cannot come up with any other memories of the Macroom '81. Maybe it just wasn't worth remembering!

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Re: Memories of Elvis in Macroom, Ireland in 1981

Postby Otis Westinghouse » Sun Sep 04, 2011 3:59 am

Thanks, John. Great stuff. I think you get a prize for longest ever post here. I was amazed to read this was only his second show in the Republic, what with his Irish roots and all. I even trawled through the gigography to double check! He played Dublin shows in every successive year of the 80s (mostly at the National Stadium, and with three nights at the Olympia in 1986 - which was your first show, Stadium in 1982?, and how many of these did you get to?).

The account reminds me a bit of seeing The Jam playing at Jersey's Fort Regent the previous December (in the same venue as the three piece 'Elvis Costello Experience' the previous April, which I didn't attend, despite being from Jersey, having blown al my pocket money on going to the earlier announced Guernsey show), where various 'rocker' types were intent on expressing their distaste at these new mods by throwing cans. Weller took it in his stride, and introduced a blistering 'In The CIty' in the encore with 'This one's for the real fans', but it must have seemed odd to come to a sleepy backwater like Jersey and face such aggression. Gigs were relatively quite cheap back then.

I love the photo above of the tents, the Ford Capri etc. in a field by the river! It all looks so makeshift.
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Re: Memories of Elvis in Macroom, Ireland in 1981

Postby docinwestchester » Wed Sep 07, 2011 8:33 pm

Hey John. I got this comment on the Strict Time YouTube video tonight:

I was there!! I can even see myself, at 1:26, in the lower left of the frame. Elvis and the boys were on amazing form that day. One of the greatest shows I've ever seen.
Ianmackable


Pretty cool. Another eyewitness report.

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Re: Memories of Elvis in Macroom, Ireland in 1981

Postby Jackson Monk » Fri Nov 25, 2011 6:03 pm

Strangely enough, I have really fond memories of Macroom for different reasons. I went fishing there in 1979 and I caught so many fish that I actually got bored catching fish. Incredible and a wonderful weekend.
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Re: Memories of Elvis in Macroom, Ireland in 1981

Postby johnfoyle » Sun Dec 02, 2012 6:32 am

With the announcement of Elvis' show in Westport next year, here's my account of a similar festival he played in Ireland in 1981.

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Re: Memories of Elvis in Macroom, Ireland in 1981

Postby Jack of All Parades » Sun Dec 02, 2012 8:08 am

The variety of perspectives makes for one wild ride down the "rabbit hole" of time. Wonderful the way your montage creates a seeming whole. Thank you for sharing. That tent city photo looks ghostly.
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Re: Memories of Elvis in Macroom, Ireland in 1981

Postby docinwestchester » Sun Dec 02, 2012 12:21 pm

John: I re-uploaded the Strict Time video clip on my vimeo channel. The YouTube link is no longer working:

http://vimeo.com/54707697

Thanks!

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Re: Memories of Elvis in Macroom, Ireland in 1981

Postby johnfoyle » Sun Dec 02, 2012 3:12 pm

Thanks Doc!

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Re: Memories of Elvis in Macroom, Ireland in 1981

Postby johnfoyle » Fri Jun 14, 2013 12:29 pm

Just happened on a clearer version of a part of one of the photos from above -

http://www.elviscostello.info/articles/h-l/hp8902d.html


Image

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Re: Memories of Elvis in Macroom, Ireland in 1981

Postby johnfoyle » Sun Aug 04, 2013 5:37 pm

I wonder what caused this?

http://vimeo.com/54707697

Sorry, "Elvis Costello and The Attractions - Strict Time at Macroom Festival, Ireland" was deleted at 4:41:22 Sat Aug 3, 2013.

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Re: Memories of Elvis in Macroom, Ireland in 1981

Postby docinwestchester » Sun Aug 04, 2013 8:34 pm

johnfoyle wrote:I wonder what caused this?

http://vimeo.com/54707697

Sorry, "Elvis Costello and The Attractions - Strict Time at Macroom Festival, Ireland" was deleted at 4:41:22 Sat Aug 3, 2013.


That one wasn't mine, but I put it up on my channel just to get it back on vimeo:

https://vimeo.com/71703820

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Re: Memories of Elvis in Macroom, Ireland in 1981

Postby sulky lad » Mon Aug 05, 2013 4:23 am

That's another show that I really hope a soundboard recording surfaces at some time - and whatever happened to all those live concerts that were going to be released? If Elvis hasn't got the time, I'd willingly give up my day job and go through all his recordings to pick out appropriate releases :roll: :lol:

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Re: Memories of Elvis in Macroom, Ireland in 1981

Postby johnfoyle » Mon Aug 05, 2013 4:26 pm

Melody Maker journalist Allan Jones in his 1981 account -

http://www.elviscostello.info/wiki/inde ... y_11,_1981


Elvoid, meanwhile was lurking about in the doorway of his dressing room, a wide brimmed trilby pulled downover his shades, the collar of his KGB overcoat pulled up around his ears. He looked like he might come over at any time and ask us to hand over the plans of the tractor factory.


In March 1986 , Allan interviewed Elvis ( who was promoting King Of America)

http://www.elviscostello.info/wiki/inde ... ch_1,_1986

I remember meeting you in Ireland, the summer after Trust came out and you seemed quite seriously depressed at the time.


That was a real low point , that whole time. I was really ill. I was drinking too much and taking too many drugs. I don't think I knew my mind at all. I was very unhappy. If you constantly wake up with hangover after hangover you can't think at all in the end. I don't think I was thinking very much at all then. I just had an opinion.

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Re: Memories of Elvis in Macroom, Ireland in 1981

Postby johnfoyle » Wed Mar 02, 2016 6:39 pm

Image


In my research of Elvis's appearance in Ireland in 1981 I found out about a TV recording of one song from that festival show in Macroom. Today I finally managed to get that footage from the RTE archives. It'll be online in due course - here's a screen grab of the festival programme pictured on the litter strewn site.

Needless to say it's a huge improvement on this tape from the time -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IS1bxrw3dG4

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Re: Memories of Elvis in Macroom, Ireland in 1981

Postby docinwestchester » Wed Mar 16, 2016 10:03 pm

Huge upgrade indeed:



I included the entire news story, which includes the complete Strict Time as well as Boom Boom (Out Go The Lights) as covered by the Blues Band.

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Re: Memories of Elvis in Macroom, Ireland in 1981

Postby johnfoyle » Thu Mar 17, 2016 10:59 am

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Re: Memories of Elvis in Macroom, Ireland in 1981

Postby verbal gymnastics » Thu Mar 17, 2016 7:04 pm

It's at times such as this...

You forget how brilliant Bruce was. I hope he's been sent this link.
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Re: Memories of Elvis in Macroom, Ireland in 1981

Postby johnfoyle » Thu Mar 17, 2016 7:10 pm

I sent it to Bruce & he commented


http://www.brucethomas.co.uk/?p=2680#comments

A rare time I used a pick — some pretty wild bass parts in places, probably because everyone was so loud the subtle ones didn’t work

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Re: Memories of Elvis in Macroom, Ireland in 1981

Postby krm » Sat Mar 19, 2016 2:46 am

The Attractions!!! :-)

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Re: Memories of Elvis in Macroom, Ireland in 1981

Postby johnfoyle » Thu Mar 24, 2016 11:56 am

Image

I just got this previously unpublished photo of Elvis in Macroom, Ireland in June 1981. Photo by Eddie O'Hare.

Prints available via http://photos.examiner.ie/


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