Costello mixes old, new in superb show
Friday, April 22, 2005
Plain Dealer Reporter
Elvis Costello was in full overdrive at the House of Blues Wednesday night, powering from one song to the next in a two-hour, Ramoneslike adrenaline rush.
He might be 50, but Elvis still can rock 'n' roll.
Shying away from his crooning numbers, Costello and the Imposters rocked through two dozen songs in such a frenzy that he barely talked to the audience between numbers. If anyone missed the banter, it didn't show. The standing-room-only audience was packed up against the stage in a sweaty surge.
The sound could have been better. The bass often was loud and distorted, rumbling out some of the vocals. When Costello is singing hits such as "Radio, Radio," "(I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea," "Watching the Detective," "Little Triggers" and the like, it was shame to miss any of the lyrics.
It was great to hear "Mystery Dance," "Pump It Up" and the odd "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?" In an interesting nod, Costello segued from "Alison" to "Suspicious Minds" by that other Elvis.
He frequently dipped into his catalog of older songs, which was clearly what the audience wanted. When he sang newer songs such as "Monkey to Man," "Needle Time" and "Delivery Man," the crowd responded, but not as intensely as it did for the classic hits.
Like any seasoned performer, Costello is a prisoner of his past. He walked the line pretty well, performing new songs and his hits with equal energy, never allowing the show to stray too far into unfamiliar territory.
There were several high points of the show. Perhaps the greatest moment was the poignant rendition of "Alison," which could be one of the most perfect love songs written in the last half-century. Even the talkers in the audience stopped their personal conversations long enough to hear that one.
Costello is one of those performers with a fiercely loyal fan base. Many in the audience talked about seeing his shows 10, 15 and 25 years ago.
But Jeff Coffey and Shelly Smith are only 22 years old and weren't even born when the Brit surprised America with "My Aim Is True" in 1977. They drove four hours from suburban Dayton to catch the concert in Cleveland, and plan to attend the May 5 show in Cincinnati, also.
The opening act was a young guitarist from Norway named Sondre Lerche, whose exuberance and enthusiasm greatly outshone his limited ability.