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Over the years I’ve been to 400 plus concerts. The best by far was Elvis Costello and The Attractions- 35 years ago today- August 17, 1982 at the Stanley Theater in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Elvis was touring on his Imperial Bedroom Tour. I have never seen Elvis before so when I saw he was coming- I went as soon as tickets went on sale to the local National Record Mart [now long out of business} and they got on the phone and got my tickets reserved for the show- and handed me the written paper to turn in to the window outside of the Stanley to get my tickets on the day of the show. The tickets as I recall where about halfway back. Also around that time it was announced that the next day August 18th- The Clash would be appearing at the same venue. Of course I had to see The Clash my favorite active band at the time- too. So Elvis and The Clash back to back nights. It could never get better than that.

I had four tickets to see Elvis. My younger sister and brother were going and my friend Daniel Johnston [later to become a recording artist/ artist himself] went. I walked up to the ticket window and handed my ticket slip to the fellow working there. I can still recall the exact words he said, he looked at the ticket voucher  and said “I can do better than that” and slipped me 4 tickets. I thanked him. Then walked away and looked at the tickets. It looked to me like we were in the first row!

We walk into the theater and not only were the tickets in the front row- but front row- center- right in front where the microphone was located. The opening band that night was a group at the time I’d never heard of -and later grew to love, Talk Talk. Talk Talk was touring with Elvis a month after they had released their debut album “The Party’s Over”

Talk Talk played their half hour or so- and then Elvis Costello and The Attractions came out. Elvis was standing 5 feet away -directly in front of us. We had the best seats in the house. The concert was incredible. If I had wanted to draw up the playlist- it couldn’t have been better than the one he drew up. He played a lot of songs from his current album “Imperial Bedroom” but also songs from the other albums in his career and covers. Who would have thought he’d be playing Back Stabbers by The O’Jays? A great thing was not knowing what he would play next. At that point in time it was well over a decade before the internet would come along. Now you can see what an acts playlists is during a tour and you’d know what to expect. It is better not knowing. I can’t remember how long the concert was but he gave everyone their money’s worth- he played 35 songs [set list below} It finally ended. When it was all over and Elvis wasn’t coming back out my friend Dan begged some stagehand to give him the towel Elvis was wiping his face with during the concert. He got it. I do remember it being incredibly hot that night inside the theater.

Another thing that made the concert great was- seeing an artist on tour supporting a great new album. So many concerts today seem to be see so and so play his greatest hits or best known songs. They will throw in songs from a new album that in most cases people tolerate but don’t care to hear. In this case he had released an album that to my ears was an instant classic and everyone wanted to hear the new songs from the great new album.

There is now doubt that if I went to a concert every day from today until the end- no concert is going to be as great to me as this one was. How could it?  And if I could go back in some time tunnel and see this one over I wouldn’t want to- I want to remember it was it was in my mind.

01. Accidents Will Happen
02. Green Shirt
03. Pidgin English
04. Hand In Hand
05. Shabby Doll
06. Watch Your Step
07. Back Stabbers / King Horse
08. The Long Honeymoon
09. Watching The Detectives / Help Me – including Pontiac Blues
10. Town Cryer
11. Secondary Modern
12. Kid About It
13. High Fidelity
14. The Beat
15. Temptation
16. From Head To Toe
17. You Belong To Me
18. New Lace Sleeves
19. Alison
20. Beyond Belief
21. Clubland
22. Imperial Bedroom
23. (The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes
24. Two Steps From The Blues
25. Mystery Dance
26. Tears Before Bedtime
27. Why Don’t You Love Me (Like You Used To Do)?
28. Almost Blue
29. Pump It Up
30. From A Whisper To A Scream
31. Shipbuilding
32. Radio, Radio
33. I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down
34. (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding?
35. Big Sister’s Clothes