|The Elvis Costello
Review of concert from 2002-05-19: Seattle, WA, Paramount Theater
- with Imposters
Costello show is a blast from the past
By Patrick MacDonald
This year's model is a lot like the original.
Elvis Costello is on a roll, energetically reviving the verve, wit and brilliant wordplay that marked his rock-star glory days back in the late 1970s and early '80s.
On the second night of a concert tour that should renew Costello's credentials as one of the all-time greats, his new songs from the acclaimed "When I Was Cruel" CD held up favorably alongside his classics from three decades ago.
The capacity audience kept leaping to its feet as Costello and his band, The Imposters, including longtime collaborators Steve Nieve on keyboards (whose organ-playing was great) and Pete Thomas on drums, whaled on hits such as "Watching the Detectives," "(I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea" and "Pump It Up." Many of the new songs were equally well-received.
Costello, wearing his usual black suit and owlish glasses, this time tinted auburn, sang in his familiar intense, warbling style, and strummed a variety of guitars. He seemed to take care enunciating the lyrics, so you could catch their multiple meanings and clever turns-of-phrase.
"Spooky Girlfriend" was Costello at his darkly humorous best, mixing sex with the macabre. "Tart" smartly surveyed all the meanings of the word. "Dust" was pure Elvis Costello a serious yet funny song about death. "Alibi" crackled with tension. "Petals" was a powerful, yet moving, love song.
The new album debuted at No. 20 in the Billboard 200 album chart a couple of weeks ago, making it, surprisingly, the highest-charted album in Costello's 25-year career. The Rhino label is in the process of re-releasing the entire Costello catalog on double CDs.
That may be why he resurrected some obscure cuts from the three albums already re-released, including a show-stopping "I Hope You're Happy Now," from 1986's "Blood and Chocolate," and an energetic reworking of "Waiting for the End of the World" from 1977's "My Aim Is True."
Playing old songs and new, and telling funny stories about many of them, he seemed as if he didn't want to leave the stage. He played more than two hours, including three encores. One of them featured Peter Buck, that fine, upstanding gentleman from R.E.M., playing guitar on "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding."
The young band American Hi-Fi, known for the hit song "Flavor of the Weak," was an upbeat, entertaining opener. Lead singer Stacy Jones was an engaging frontman who won over the mostly middle-aged crowd.
Patrick MacDonald can be reached at 206-464-2312 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright © 2002 The Seattle Times Company