|The Elvis Costello
Review of concert from 2003-07-16: Denver, CO, Universal Lending
Pavilion - with the Imposters
Costello, in a roundabout way, always leads back to rock roots
July 17, 2003
More than most artists, Elvis Costello has fans that will willingly follow whatever side trip he's doing, be it orchestras, string quartets, jazz standards or a stint with Burt Bacharach.
Part of the reason is that there's always something interesting in those projects.
But they also know he'll always get his fill then come back to this - ripping through his repertoire with a rock band.
Wednesday night's show was another richly satisfying return to the songs that established Costello as one of the finest writers of the rock era.
Kicking off with I Hope You're Happy Now from the overlooked Blood and Chocolate album, Costello powered through a set that combined his biggest hits (Pump It Up, Radio Radio, Everyday I Write the Book) with songs from his latter-day albums.
Particularly fine was a ramrod version of Complicated Shadows, a track from All This Useless Beauty that is as musically driving and lyrically sharp as anything in his songbook.
For every deep album cut such as Clown Strike or Just About Glad, he'd come back with a crowd favorite, superbly performed.
Backing band The Imposters features drummer Pete Thomas and keyboardist Steve Nieve, both virtuosos in their own right. The addition of bassist Davey Faragher eased old tensions in the band and also added some badly needed backing vocals.
The only thing that marred the evening was an odd incident where, barely an hour into the show, Costello abruptly chopped off the set and left the stage, surprising even his band. The musicians left, the house lights came on and it seemed the show was over.
But a few minutes later Costello came back and wowed the confused crowd with a strong, if less animated, set of encores, heavily stocked with early classics (I Don't Want to Go to) Chelsea, Man Out of Time, Less Than Zero, Honey Are You Straight or Are You Blind and more.
He also dug out chestnuts such as Wondering from the country album Almost Blue and I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down from Get Happy.
Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes opened the show with a combination of cover songs and originals that showed he shouldn't quit his day job with the Black Crowes. Huh? He what? Uh oh.