On top of the bookshelf in my study, there is a pair of tickets for an Elvis Costello concert. The tickets are for Wednesday, 18th March 2020 and are unused.
The onset of the pandemic caused the cancellation of the concert. Well, not the cancellation, but the postponement of the gig until a date to be confirmed. Ticket holders were offered the choice of applying for a refund, or holding onto their tickets until the concert was rescheduled. There seemed something optimistic in holding onto the tickets to wait for the day when the performance took place, it seemed a hopeful thing to do.
Of course, more than nine months have passed and there is no prospect of any concerts being held, but nine months is a brief moment when waiting to see Elvis Costello.
The first time I saw him play was in Brockwell Park in Brixton in September 1978. A Rock Against Racism event organised by the Anti-Nazi League saw Elvis Costello and the Attractions top a bill that included Aswad, Misty and Sham 69. The Metropolitan Police barred Sham 69 from playing on public order grounds, which did not stop their lead singer coming on stage and making a rousing speech. (The police seemed to stop lots of gigs in those times, the following year I went to see The Stranglers play at the Odeon in Taunton, only to arrive in the town to discover that Avon and Somerset Constabulary had banned the performance). The set played by Elvis Costello and the Attractions energised the tens of thousands in the park, it was celebratory, affirmative, full of a sense of irrepressible hope.
It would be nearly forty years before I saw him play again, on a fine June evening on the terrace of Blenheim Palace. It would be hard to imagine two venues further apart than a park in Brixton in the 1970s and the magnificence of the home of the dukes of Marlborough. What was unchanged was the energy Elvis Costello put into his performance. In March 2018, he had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer and had undergone surgery in May, but had been determined to fulfil his scheduled tour dates in June. Forty years fell away.
When someone shows that degree of commitment to playing live gigs, it would be churlish to seek a refund on tickets because of a short postponement of the concert,
I shall see Elvis Costello this year, and he will be as good as he was forty-three years ago.