The Greatest Concert I’ve Ever Been To- Elvis Costello And The Attractions- Stanley Theater, Pittsburgh, PA- August 17th, 1982

Someone asked me the other day the question- What was the greatest concert that you have ever been to? I have been to between 300-400 concerts in my life. The answer though was easy. Elvis Costello and  The Attractions- August 17th,1982 at The Stanley Theater in Pittsburgh, PA. From the time a friend of mine turned me on to EC- [when his second album was released in the US I think it was the spring of 1978} there were two artists I listened to constantly-The Beatles and Elvis Costello. When I would get the latest Elvis album I’d listen to it endlessly for weeks. I wish there was something today that turned me on like that but I can’t recall the last new album I was obsessed with.

In the summer of 1982 the latest Elvis Costello album was “Imperial Bedroom” another great album in my opinion. I remember seeing in the Sunday Pittsburgh Press a couple months before the concert that Elvis was coming. I had to go. Remember this was way before the internet. I went to the local mall and at the National Record Mart ordered 4 tickets for the concert. My brother and sister went with me and my friend Dan {Daniel Johnston- who would become a recording artist and artist on his own-not to name drop or anything}

I walked up to the box office on the night of the show with the paper they had given me at National Record Mart for my tickets. The tickets were decent but not great but when I handed the paper to the man at the ticket window he said “I can do better than that for you” When we walked in and found our seats- I was in heaven. Front row-center. Incredible. {I wish I could somehow track that man down who gave me those tickets}

The opening act was Talk Talk. They would later have a few hits and would also make one of my all-time favourite albums [Spirit of Eden} Talk Talk was pretty good that night. Then Elvis Costello and The Attractions came out and Elvis was right in front of us.  Elvis and the boys that night were on fire. They played 37 songs that night. Needless to say I didn’t want the concert to ever end. Elvis was in his prime at his peak. Two of the greatest hours of my life. I have since seen Elvis a half dozen times but nothing comes close to that night.

I will also add-the next night we got to see one of my favourite groups of all times at the same place- The Clash. I cannot imagine ever being able to top that- back to back nights- Elvis Costello and The Clash. How could it get better? The Clash were excellent the next night but Elvis was King.

I am still an Elvis Costello fan. I have all his albums. If he is anywhere near by I go see him. He would be on my Mount Rushmore of recording artists {along with The Beatles, Bob Dylan and Steve Earle] Elvis Costello since the mid-80’s has been inconsistent. Some outstanding albums , some average. There have been no Elvis album since that mid-80’s that I’ve played hundreds of times over and over and over like “My Aim Is True”, “This Year’s Model”, “Armed Forces” “Get Happy!”,”Trust” and “Imperial Bedroom.” {By the way the second best concert I’ve ever been to- The Replacements in Pittsburgh in the mid-1980’s. They were great that night. I also saw them right before they broke up..not so great}

Elvis Costello and The Attractions- Set List 8.17.82.

Accidents Will Happen

Green Shirt

Pidgin English

Hand In Hand

Shabby Doll

Watch Your Step

Back Stabbers {O’Jay’s Cover}

King Horse

The Long Honeymoon

Watching The Detectives

Help Me {Sonny Boy Williamson cover}

Town Cryer

Secondary Modern

Kid About It

High Fidelity

The Beat


From Head To Toe- {Smokey Robinson cover}

You Belong To Me

New Lace Sleeves


Beyond Belief


Imperial Bedroom

The Angels Wanna Wear My Red Shoes

Two Steps From The Blues {John Riley Brown cover}

Mystery Dance

Tears Before Bedtime

Why Don’t You Love Me Like You Used To Do? {Hank Williams cover}

Almost Blue

Pump Me Up

From A Whisper To A Scream


Radio Radio

I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down {Sam and Dave cover}

What’s So Funny ’bout Peace Love and Understanding

Big Sister’s Clothes

2 responses to “The Greatest Concert I’ve Ever Been To- Elvis Costello And The Attractions- Stanley Theater, Pittsburgh, PA- August 17th, 1982

  1. I saw Costello around the same time at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver. Ridiculously good, but not my favourite concert of all time.That distinction is a tough call – a toss up between Jonathon Richmon at the Filmore in San Fransisco – 1982, and John Cale , 1981 at the Commodore. 🙂

    • I have never seen Richman or Cale but have some of their albums and they have a reputation of putting on great concerts. I am sure those were great ones!

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