Elvis Costello, Sydney, January 2013

Elvis 2013 Front.jpg

The aim to get there the day before factor kicked in big time as soon as I walked into Whitsunday Coast on 29 January 2013. It was the day after the remnants of Cyclone Oswald had taken out the telecommunications infrastructure between Rockhampton and Cairns, which had rendered the computerised check-in system inoperative and prevented anyone from flying out on the Monday. There was a Virgin aircraft sitting on the tarmac when I arrived, and it was still sitting there when we left, and there were further disruptions to flights out of Brisbane, related to weather issues around Sydney, so with check in issues and weather related disruptions both flights (Whitsunday Coast > Brisbane and Brisbane > Sydney) were delayed, but, nevertheless I was checked into the Travelodge by 4:15 on Tuesday afternoon with a good twenty-four hours before any pre-concert rendezvous.

A visit to the Oak Barrel produced a bottle of Moppity Vineyard Riesling from the Hilltops region of New South Wales, an impressive style, with crisp citrus and flint notes that went well with the Spice I Am tod nam pla and a Mussaman duck curry. Throw in a half bottle of Craiglee Shiraz to be savoured while reading Alan Frost's Botany Bay: The Real Story back in the room at the Travelodge and I was a happy camper.

Wednesday morning produced a sleep in of minor proportions, which, in turn, meant I wasn't out and about to scope out the neighbouring breakfast options. The breakfast on site was ordinary and, for mine, overpriced, so next time around I'll be stepping a bit further afield than The Oak Barrel and Spice I Am on the afternoon before in search of something better at a reasonable price. From there, having checked out and left the luggage in the cloak room, it was off to the CBD in search of an iPad charger (I needed one for the road, disconnecting the dock on the desk is a pin), the new Graham Parker and the Rumour CD, a new pair of comfortable slip on shoes and something nice for Madam.

The charger was straightforward (well, you'd expect that given the presence of an Apple Store in a prominent and previously identified location), but Red Eye Records didn't seem to be where I thought it was and the shoes I managed to find looked about the same as the pair I was wearing, so there wasn't a great deal of point to that exercise.

The Queen Victoria Building looked like a reasonable source for something nice for Madam, though I wasn't sure what something nice would amount to. As it turned out there was a pleasant almond lotion at L'Occitane that did the job rather nicely and that's one retailer stashed away in the memory banks in case there's a similar instruction in future.

From there I headed across to Kinokuniya in The Galeries shopping centre, which hadn't been open on my first sweep through the area. I had a lengthy browse and emerged in time to sight the Tapps filling in time before the show, which then provided an excuse to catch up for a pre-concert drink at The Marble Bar. They were off to look at photographs, and I was headed to World Square, where I reckoned on scoping out the lunch options and ending up in Din Tai Fung if nothing caught the eye, but a degree of leg weariness ruled out the scoping, and the dumpling palace delivered a filling lunch and a glass of Semillon that was rather pleasant. 

The same leg weariness ruled out much in the way of post-prandial prowling, so it was a case of back to the Travelodge, reclaim the bags and around to the Hilton, which might seem to be going a bit upmarket, but is located just around the corner from the State Theatre, and is located a couple of doors away from the stage entrance that's the preferred venue for Elvis-stalking. That's my excuse, anyway, and the Hilton's pencilled in as the default option when I'm going to something at the State.

As it turned out my room was ready ahead of time, and I was able to check right in and enjoy a reasonably relaxed afternoon before hooking up with the Tapps, the Pope of Pop and Danielle from Auckland for the regulation pre-concert snifter, which took the form of a couple of James Squire's brews. Given the invariable lead time between concert's end and the artist's emergence Popey and I headed back for a quick couple and got back to the stage door right on time to catch Elvis on the way out. 

Breakfast  was something at a coffee shop in The Galeries rather than at the Hilton, and with that out of the way I headed across to locate Red Eye Recordst. The sign on the door indicated they opened at nine, so I headed back to the Hilton, completed the packing, triple checked for anything I'd missed and had a read before checking out around nine-fifteen. That gave me around two and three-quarter hours before the flight, enough time to loop through Red Eye, learn the GP album was out of stock and unlikely to get a local release, and head to the airport by train from Town Hall. By this point I'd finished The First Fleet and spent the lead time before departure reading Stanley Booth's biography of the Rolling Stones, which also took care of the portion of the flight time where electronic devices were an option.

© Ian Hughes 2012