|The Elvis Costello
Review of concert from 2002-06-14: Boston, FleetBoston Pavilion
- with Imposters
Elvis Costello keeps the old new
by Sarah Rodman
Elvis Costello, at the FleetBoston Pavilion, last night.
Consistent vitality is an elusive commodity in any creative endeavor, including rock and roll song-writing. Just ask almost any classic rock star.
Elvis Costello fans should then be thankful indeed that the venerated tunesmith is still putting out solid records like his recent ``When I Was Cruel'' and putting on exhaustive shows like the high-energy, two-hour-plus spectacle last night at the FleetBoston Pavilion.
Whether you were a casual fan waiting to croon along with ``Alison'' - performed admirably lovingly for what must have been the umpteenth time - or a diehard Elvis-head hoping to hear deeper cuts like snarling guitar rocker ``Uncomplicated'' - a jamming encore - last night's performance had it all and way beyond then some.
Costello barely seemed to stop for a breath as he careened through 25 years of music, with old and new rubbing shoulders with little chafing.
He opened with bracing rocker ``45'' from the new album, he reached back to 1977 for the shiver inducing bounce and swagger of ``Less Than Zero,'' skipped to 1986 for the fantastically crabby jealousy number ``I Hope You're Happy Now,'' which worked a totally groovy '60s dance party beat and slithery Farfisa organ line to giddy effect.
Without a doubt Costello's band the Impostors, featuring two-thirds of the famed Attractions - the impeccable and truly tasty Pete Thomas on drums and alchemist Steve Nieve on keyboards, plus Davey Faragher on bass - contributed as much as their leader to the night's crisp and spirited vibe.
The sneaky bass lines of ``Clubland'' were played to perfection by Faragher, who also contributed soaring backing vocals on ``Tokyo Storm Warning,'' one of several numbers to benefit from Nieve's gifted conducting of a squealing Theremin.
Nieve was a wonder all over his keyboards, summoning forth braying organ lines to ``Oliver's Army,'' putting the percolation in ``Radio, Radio'' and adding all manner of chimes, horns, icy piano lines, synthesized strings to the dilapidated melodrama ``When I Was Cruel #2,'' the roiling ``Dust'' and ``(What's So Funny About) Peace, Love and Understanding.''
For his part, Costello ripped off strafing guitar leads, sang in his pleasantly rusted out voice which cracked and soared and bent and lulled in all the right places whether he was powering through vitriolic rockers like ``(I Dont Want to Go To) Chelsea'' or fluttering sweetly through the propulsive ``15 Petals.''
To our great dismay we had to leave during the encores but a friend left behind with a cell phone confirmed that Costello included ``Tiny Steps'' and the new ``Episode of Blonde'' in the lengthy encores and closed the show with a version of his masterful and heartwrenching ballad ``I Want You'' that was by turns deranged and loud and laser sharp and hushed.
Opener Joe Henry had a tough row to hoe facing a lot of empty seats and uninterested listeners armed only with his acoustic guitar and offbeat voice. While he played a smattering of his best stuff including the insistent ``Like She Was a Hammer'' and the gypsy tango ``Stop'' without the jazzy nuances of his backing band or anything resembling intimacy, Henry's quirky tales received only polite applause.