Costello, coming off a derided show in New York, landed in Toronto for a late night set, scheduled for March 6 at the city’s fabled El Mocambo club. The concert was to be broadcast live on radio; when news got out, the city erupted into a frenzy. People began lining up almost half a day before the 11:30 pm show, in the generally vain hope of scoring one of the 300 tickets available (minus those going to industry and record folk, of course).
By the time Costello hit the stage, expectations were remarkably high. To say he exceeded them was an understatement. Live at the El Mocambo, all 49 minutes of it (not including the encores which were not broadcast or recorded), is one of the best live shows ever put to disc, right up there with the 1971 Allman Brothers Live at Fillmore East. As with that show, you can only wish you’d been there when you listen to it.