Ye Olde Gigge Liste

I was rummaging through some boxes in the loft when I came across some old gig lists for the first six months of my time as an Attraction.  Back in the day, before the office provided us with printed schedules, I used to write it all out meticulously … as you can see.

The rehearsal on July 3 was the first time the four of us got together and played as a unit at the same time in the same place.  It was also the day that I came up with both the name of the band (EC wanted ‘The Sticky Valentines’) and the name ‘Steve Nieve’.  Later in July was the rehearsal week in Cornwall where we came up with the arrangements for Chelsea and Lipstick Vogue … and did our first ever gig on July 14.

‘Nashville’ refers to a pub in west London not the city in Tennessee.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October was the famous Stiff Records Tour.  I recall that it was at the soundcheck at Loughborough University that we worked out Pump It Up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first US tour, was done in a Plymouth station wagon with no heater … and then into the studios on December 28 to record This Year’s Model.  Other than that, not a lot happened.

 

 

 

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93 Responses to Ye Olde Gigge Liste

  1. Peter Robinson says:

    First Attractions gig (of many) I saw was the Norwich Stiffs tour in ’77. Remember you played a lot of pinball before the gig! One of the best was the NME prizewinner’s one at the Clarendon Hammersmith. Also the Almost Blue Concert in the Albert Hall with the RPO. Thanks for many happy memories!

  2. Ian Upton says:

    6 October 1977, Bristol, Stiff Live Stiffs tour – I was there…with a whole bunch of people I’d not met until around six hours before. In fact, none of us knew each other until that day as we’d all just arrived to start at University there. Someone knew the gig was on but we didn’t know much about the line-up except for EC & The Attractions. But with not much else to do off we all went. And what a memorable night it was and it still rates in my top three (i.e. three tying for the No.1 spot) gigs of all time. With thanks to you Bruce, I now know the exact date!

  3. David Witherington says:

    You guys crack me up! Okay, Bruce, I’ll bite (although I may regret using that word)…why was Steve called Mr. No Butter? And one final question in the Name Game, and I promise I’ll put it to rest – is Steve’s real surname Mason or Nason? I’ve read it printed both ways many times in articles over the years. And thank you…you’re very gracious to indulge us fans here from time to time. We appreciate you and miss you very much!

    • Bruce says:

      Steve was Nason. The French for no butter is (sort of) ‘no beurre’ — now say it all as one word — that’s all I’m saying on the subject.

    • Nick S. says:

      Right on, David! Bruce is a very good sport with us. And his period as an Attraction was consistently the best bass playing I ever laid ears on. Quality and consistency define greatness to me.

      I’ve got a “name question,” Bruce. Was “Costello” EC’s mother’s maiden name? Or some other relative, etc.? I’ve read conflicting accounts re. this.

  4. David Witherington says:

    Hi, Bruce. I was thinking about those early gigs where you guys would open for someone under an alias such as “The Horace Barlow Experience” or “Otis Westinghouse and the Lifts”…do you remember who came up with those names and any memories of the audience being totally surprised when it turned out to be Elvis Costello and the Attractions? What a thrill it must have been to attend one of those shows. The early days were so fun.

    • Bruce says:

      Otis Westinghouse (and the Mood Elevators) was EC’s invention. Horace Barlow was Steve’s — as was Maurice Worm and the Walkabouts.

      • David Witherington says:

        Thanks for the info, Bruce…and hi to Nick S. too! So it was The Mood Elevators instead of the Lifts – my memory is slipping. And wow – I never heard of Maurice Worm and the Walkabouts. I do remember Steve being billed as Maurice Worm on “Goodbye Cruel World” though. I remember meeting you and Pete in a hotel bar in 1983 (on the “Punch the Clock” tour) and you told me that Steve once called himself Norman Brain! I always loved that pseudonym as well. Again, thanks for sharing. 🙂

      • Bruce says:

        Steve was a man of many aliases. If you knew why he was called Mr No Butter, your ears would curl.

      • Nick S. says:

        I’m gonna throw EC a bone. ;0) If he were to reinvent himself as a — gasp! — rapper, he could be . . . Nappy D.

      • Bruce says:

        What if he reinvented himself as a wrapper?

      • Nick S. says:

        Ha! That’s fine. Cellophane would be nice.

      • Nick S. says:

        Mr. No Butter must have preferred margarine.

      • Bruce says:

        No, it was a pun in French.

      • Mike Miller says:

        If he is going to be a wrapper he would need a sweater.

      • Bruce says:

        I don’t understand this American humor.

      • Nick S. says:

        A French bun? Oh . . . a croissant. A relative of The Bagels. (Ha! I don’t understand this American humour either . . . especially my attempts at it.)

      • Bruce says:

        Yes, it is a bit crumby.

    • Nick S. says:

      David’s right . . . the early days did convey a sense of joy and fun. More of a group mentality, that Bruce has referred to before. Bruce and Pete were clearly having fun often enough. And Steve frequently rocked back and forth with much gusto at his keyboards.

      But EC too often seemed to me to embody anger. How unfortunate. “Radio, Radio” was like life imitating art. It seems to me EC has been very lucky in his career . . . despite himself sometimes.

    • Mike Miller says:

      Nappy’s group would be the Sweaters.

      Didn’t come out right before…

  5. Mike Miller says:

    Seems interesting looking at the itinerary that there were only two shows in the south and then the long drive to Madison. Those shows seem really out of the way from the rest of the tour.

  6. Mike Miller says:

    I just noticed that of the first 25 EC songs on ITunes ranked by popularity, 24 of them were with the Attractions. I think that speaks volumes.

  7. Nick S. says:

    Speaking of powerful live tracks . . . here is a favorite EC & The Attractions performance: “The Imposter,” 1979, Concert For Kampuchea. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P94pXANbucw

    Any notables you’d kindly share on this spirited performance or show, Bruce?

    • Bruce says:

      I think a lot of the spirit on this show came from a bottle or two of the same — amongst other things.

      • Nick S. says:

        Thanks, Bruce. When it came to performing live, what was your take on arrangements?

        As a fan and listener, I have mixed feelings about live arrangements. Much of the time, I want them to sound like the original recordings. Sticking to the script, so to speak.

        But other times, a different live arrangement can breathe new life into a song, bettering the studio version. I can understand why bands change up the arrangements on some songs from time to time . . . trying to keep things interesting and fresh for band and audience. It’s a tricky balance.

      • Bruce says:

        A lot of the time it wasn’t a conscious thing but songs kind of stretched themselves out and morphed organically so to speak. A football (soccer) team can play the same system every game without having to make identical moves, yes?

      • Mike Miller says:

        Steve really tore it up on this track. His talent is so remarkable!

  8. David Witherington says:

    Hi, Bruce! Thanks for sharing this musical history. Even with the “many things you’ve chucked out that would horrify us”, this was a pretty great one to hold on to…because it gives a chronological and detailed glimpse of the birth of Elvis Costello and The Attractions. I’m glad that the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame nominated the whole band, because those early albums are all classics. As for the tours, I’ve seen you all sweat right through your suits. The four of you guys together on stage had such a powerful chemistry. I remember your bopping bass keeping the crowd bouncing during Pump It Up, and your fills would really flesh out the melodies throughout every show. I watched a bootleg of “Live Stiffs” recently too. Man, what a fun film. I’d love to see it released someday. Take care. 🙂

  9. Danny Alban says:

    First let me say that you sir are my inspiration for bass playing. I only seen you perform once in ’96 in D.C. Do you have good memories of being in D.C over the years?

    • Bruce says:

      Thank you for your kind words. Washington was the first city I ever visited in the US. Naively, I got off the plane and headed to the baggage claim. It’s July, I thought, and it’s not that hot. Then we left the building and the blast of hot air hit us. It was my first experience of air-conditioning. My other immediate memory is of sharing a hotel there with the Italian football team in 1994. Ironially, we were in Rome the night they lost the final. You’ve never seen or heard a city go so silent, so suddenly.

  10. Nick S. says:

    Bruce, aside from Canadian promo, El Mocambo, did EC & The Attractions ever plan to release a live record?

    • Bruce says:

      We did a few live tracks — Hollywood High School, Stiffs Live etc, but I don’t recall the idea of doing a live album per se ever being proposed.

      • Nick S. says:

        That’s a shame. (Live records seemed all the rage during the seventies, then pretty much disappeared.)

        Rediscovering EC & The Attractions live via YouTube videos is a treat. It extends the fascination and interest. And shows what a potent live force that band was.

      • Bruce says:

        Live albums saved a lot on recording studio costs! But you’re right — a live album would have had a lot more power and creativity than most of the studio versions.

      • Mike Miller says:

        But, there are lots of live shows out there because of FM radio broadcasts. I can only speculate that the management didn’t really care about the inevitable bootlegs that did result because only a few hard core fans would seek them out.

  11. BorisBrain says:

    Hey Bruce,

    Your TOTP performance of 10/11/77 is captured nicely here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJ-BO2HeFyU

    A fine, menacing performance from the band to shake up the Happy Crowd, with Pete especially looking like a character out of a Guy Ritchie film. But what is that huge sparkly bass you’re playing?

    Stay groovy,

    BB

    • Bruce says:

      That is a Gretsch bass (as played by Chris Hillman of the Byrds on Mr Tambourine Man etc). As I recall they had retractable telescopic spikes built in so that you could stand them up and play them like a double bass (or collect litter). That appearence must’ve have been done in the days when the BBC were still making bands re-record the backing tracks, as what I’m playing there is nothing like reggae!

      • Mike Miller says:

        The band had to record the backing track at the TV studio before taping?

      • Bruce says:

        That was the practice at the time — but usually there was an unspoken arrangement where the producer from the BBC was taken out to a slap up lunch by someone from the record company while the “live” tape was switched for a specially edited backing track — though not always. And in this case the backing track concerned is nothing like the record — so I reckon we actually had to re-record that one.

  12. azmuda says:

    Great stuff! Many thanks for sharing these. I’d love to see more.

    What was that on August 20? A festival appearance, later cancelled?

  13. Bruce says:

    Days off got fewer and further between in the subsequent couple of years, I can tell you. I don’t recall recording anything in Cornwall, TBH.

    • Mike Miller says:

      Were you the last bass player to audition ? And did they say this was going to be a 24/7 gig for the next few years?

      • Bruce says:

        I was never aware that any other bass players had been auditioned! At the time nobody could have known how long ‘the gig’ might have been for — so that never came into it. It could have come and gone in a year.

      • Mike Miller says:

        I’m sure they had no idea of the monster they had just created. It would seem that they made wise choices but maybe just dumb luck. EC did say in a podcast episode a few years ago that you were by far the best bass player auditioned. Bless his heart!

      • Bruce says:

        Crikey — that must’ve taken some doing.

  14. Kevin says:

    This is great, Bruce! How about a large-format art-heavy book with material like this from the real early days to Quiver to Al Stewart etc. to EC and Billy Bragg, Suzanne Vega, etc?

    • Bruce says:

      I’ve moved too many times to have much material along those lines. If you knew what I’ve chucked out over the years you guys would be horrified!

  15. Dave Edney says:

    Another question. It states on the EC web-site that you guys re-recorded “My Aim Is True” “in one day at a small studio in Cornwall.” I see that you have the 15th July down as a studio day. The web-site goes on to say that “The intention was for Stiff Records to substitute the recording by the new group for the original takes after the initial pressing was sold out.” Any truth in this story? The piece does appear under a section of the web-site called “Lies & Inventions” so should we take this with the proverbial pinch of salt?

    Thanks

  16. Dave Edney says:

    Hi Bruce

    Fascinating stuff. What was the “tunnel” exactly, that was used for rehearsals?

    • Bruce says:

      The Tunnel was a rehearsal studio in the Waterloo area of London. I think it was under some railway viaduct arches near the famous station of the Ray Davies’ song — hence the name.

  17. Ian E says:

    Hello Bruce. Enjoy very much your web pages – and your meticulous record keeping. Reminds me of another legendary bass player, Bill Wyman… Intrigued by the letter ‘A’ against some dates. Does that mean ‘Away from home’?
    cheers

  18. Bill says:

    Wow! Nashville on Christmas Eve and still home in time for Christmas.

  19. BorisBrain says:

    Hey Bruce,

    Nice bit of memorabilia.

    So, was one of these shows the Saturday Night Live ‘Radio Radio’ gig? I always wondered if everybody in the band was in on the ruse, or whether it was EC who threw everybody a curve ball…

    Stay groovy,

    BB

    • Bruce says:

      It was meticulously pre-planned between the band — but we never told the producer, who was very upset by the disruption of his live schedule. John Belushi — bless him — thought it was great live TV.

      • Mike Miller says:

        I had read somewhere that “The Producer” was giving you guys the finger from behind the camera.
        The song change get’s all the talk, but “Watching the Detectives” was also classic. You and Pete are carrying the song till about half way through because Steve’s Vox wasn’t plugged in. That was the day it started for me.

        I have an excellent copy of those performances…I will try to post those in some manner.

      • Bill says:

        My EC tribute band does the same bit before starting Radio Radio. Fun stuff.

    • Mike Miller says:

      How many were traveling on that first US tour? The band, the Manager, and a couple of roadies to drive the gear?

      • Bruce says:

        Yep. You’ve answered your own question there, Mike. The band and Jake in the Plymouth station wagon and a couple of road crew in a truck with the equipment.

      • Mike Miller says:

        Were there any other groups of note at these US shows?

      • Bruce says:

        I’m not sure if my memory’s playing tricks on me — but I’ve a feeling we supported Talking Heads in Atlanta. You might have to refer to one of the band “historians” to check that out.

  20. Mike Miller says:

    Great post! You’re feeding dope to the junkies!

    What was recorded at Eden in early November right before the first US tour?

    • Bruce says:

      Good question! I’ve no idea. I’m wondering if we made an early start on tracks for TYM. Must’ve been — we wouldn’t need all that studio time for a single!

  21. Nick S. says:

    These written records give a better understanding and appreciation of the hard work you guys did, establishing yourselves as a touring and recording band pretty much from the ground up.

    First US tour, in a station wagon with no heat, during the winter, must have been pretty brutal. (I once had the misfortune of renting a van with no heat during a harsh Midwest winter. The speeding vehicle made the frigid air feel even colder. Uuuggghhh.)

    • Bruce says:

      Aye — it was pretty cold but those albums of David Bowie instrumentals really made you feel warm and cheery — NOT!

      • Nick S. says:

        Ha! I’m with you. I like music by David Bowie, but “warm” and “cheery” are not words I typically associate with it. I’d compliment it as “otherworldly.”

      • Bruce says:

        Certainly not with ‘Sense of Doubt” which was the track that seemed to be playing all the time — with a bit of respite for Abba.

  22. Derek says:

    Hi Bruce

    where was that gig in dudley on the 27th August?
    JB’s by any chance, if it was I missed it damm

    • Bruce says:

      You know — now you mention it, I believe it was.

      • Derek says:

        JB’s seems to think so, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JB's_Dudley , I doubt after TYM came you’d fit your audience in there again. The old place was only about 300-400.

        I remember Wrekless Eric playing there on a Tuesday free night. didn’t use the stage just plopped his vocal PA on the floor and arranged the band around it. Probably the best sound I’ve heard there for clarity and easy listening!

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