In a post asking whether or not artists get better when people stop paying attention to them, Steve Sailer recounts an Elvis Costello concert that sounds in-freaking-credible:
I bought “My Aim Is True” in import as a Christmas present for myself in 1977, then on January 27, 1978 I paid $3 to see him in a Houston beer hall with his new band, the Attractions. They played all the songs on their first album, such as Alison, Mystery Dance, Less than Zero,Watching the Detectives (a single), and The Angels Want to Wear My Read Shoes. Then, Costello brought out his producer Nick Lowe, who played three of his own songs, including I Knew the Bride When She Used to Rock and Roll. Good show. But instead of leaving, they announced an intermission, which seemed strange because they’d already delivered a fine show and played all their songs.
When Costello came back, however, they played everything from their as of yet unknown upcoming album This Year’s Model (which went on to win lots of critics’ awards as the best album of 1978), such as Radio Radio, I Don’t Want to Go to Chelsea, This Year’s Girl, and finishing with a barn-burning encore of a new song entitled Pump It Up that left the audience banging beer mugs on the stage for 15 minutes in time to Pump It Up’s bass line, until the bouncers managed to shove us all out the door. (Pump It Up’s similarity to Bob Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues made it the perfect song to hear for the first time in concert: the verses resemble Dylan’s, but the chorus slams home harder.)
The man and the moment had come together. Granted, in the big city of Houston in January 1978 there were only 200 or 300 people who would pay $3 to see Elvis Costello. But we were the right 200 or 300 people, the ones who wouldn’t shut up about him.