|The Elvis Costello
Review of concert from 2002-11-05: Birmingham, AL, Alabama Theatre
- with Imposters
Buy Costello's CDs, follow his tour; show energetic, satisfying
The energy level was intense. We expected that, too.
But almost two-and-a-half hours from Elvis Costello?
That was too much to expect or hope for, even among fans who'd waited 20-some years for the crabby, brilliant Costello to return to Birmingham.
His Tuesday night concert with a three-man band, the Imposters, was a big, blistering valentine that seared the hearts of admirers who showed up at the Alabama Theatre.
The action started around 9 p.m., after a nice opening set by Nashville singer-songwriter Laura Cantrell. She's got a sweet, pure voice, some good songs and a pleasant delivery. However, it would do Cantrell an injustice to compare her 40-minute set with Costello's.
She's fruit punch; he's a Molotov cocktail.
When the smoke cleared around 11:30 p.m., maybe 25 or 30 songs had been tossed into the air, pulled from all phases of Costello's 25-year career.
He reached back to the 1970s LPs "My Aim is True" and "This Year's Model" for "Alison," "Watching the Detectives," "Pump It Up," "Radio, Radio" and "(I Don't Want to Go to) Chelsea."
He fast-forwarded to this year's CD, performing "45," "Tart," "Spooky Girlfriend" and "Episode of Blonde" from "When I Was Cruel."
The set list included old hits that made the audience roar: "Accidents Will Happen," "(What's So Funny `Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding," "I Can't Stand Up for Falling Down."
It also featured more recent, lesser-known gems: "Indoor Fireworks," "13 Steps Lead Down," "Uncomplicated," "Still Too Soon to Know."
Let's dispense with the list. You shoulda been there.
Everything was performed with urgency, emotion and intelligence the bristling, dynamic style that marked Costello's New Wave years. At age 47, he's no longer the angry young man we remember; he's that angry young man with added depth and maturity. In fact, time has burnished Costello's way with a ballad to a darker, richer luster.
His concert here was so compelling and satisfying, it made you want to immediately replace your well-worn Costello records with CDs, fill the Elvis gaps in your collection and follow this excellent performer to the next dozen stops on his U.S. tour.
On second thought, two-and-a-half hours wasn't nearly long enough. Costello might not return for another 20-odd years. He should have given us four.© 2002 al.com. All Rights Reserved