Review of Concert at 1999-06-01 - LA, CA, Wiltern Theatre
Yahoo, 1999-06-03
- Phil Gallo


Thursday June 3 2:25 AM ET

Elvis Costello dusts off vintage catalog

Elvis Costello (Wiltern Theater, 2,200 seats, $77.50 top)

By Phil Gallo

HOLLYWOOD (Variety) - Carrying neither the weight nor hoopla of Elvis Costello's pairing with Burt Bacharach nor his first go-round with pianist Steve Nieve, the singer's current tour is a relaxed affair aimed at re-introducing his rock-solid catalog.

The Bacharach co-productions from ``Painted From Memory,'' his first disc for Mercury Records, are given prominence through well-rehearsed dramatic introductions and their melancholic nature, but the acoustic reworkings of vintage Costello are the real attention-grabbers.

Costello and Nieve, the longtime pianist of the Attractions, perform with an ease that wasn't so apparent three years ago at the Troubadour (Daily Variety, May 17, 1996).

There they dropped out the extra instrumentation and played their parts; here they've found new wrinkles in songs, dropped in a few lines from another song (''Gloria'' was a delight) and made savvy decisions when it comes to reworking (''Waiting for the End of the World'') or playing it straight (the Bacharach material and the show-opening ``Temptation'').

The two unveiled their first songwriting collaboration, a short, dark number chronicling the morning after a night of passion that sounds as if it were removed from a song cycle. Costello's voice was agile and strong: The new number required a tempered delivery far different from the vocally huge Bacharach songs and the tender ballads ``God's Comic,'' ``Pads, Paws and Claws'' and the war-horse ``Alison.''

With no album to sell, this was certainly a fans' show, one that pulled long-ignored tunes out of the closet and dusted them off for a new showing. None was better than ``Radio Sweetheart,'' introduced as the first song he ever wrote, which segued into Van Morrison's ``Jackie Wilson Said (I'm in Heaven When You Smile).''

A grand and energetic performance, Costello convincingly sold it to the last row of the house.

Presented by Universal Concerts/Silva-Hewitt. Band: Elvis Costello, Steve Nieve. Opened and reviewed June 1, 1999; closed June 2.


Copyright 1999 Reuters Limited and Variety. All rights reserved.