If "The Angels Wanna Wear My Red Shoes," as Elvis Costello once claimed in his hit single of the same title, they didn't have much chance Thursday night. The British New Wave singer/songwriter, who headlined at the Fox Theatre, was wearing them.
Costello, who has been hailed as one of the most consistently original songwriters of his generation, took the capacity crowd by storm wearing a pair of bright red shoes and a rumpled suit. The high-decibel band Aztec Camera was the opening act.
Costello, with his superb band The Attractions and a four-piece horn section, began his 90-minute show with "Let Them All Talk" from his latest album Punch the Clock. After nearly 20 minutes of encores he was still going strong as he continued to progress through a selection of material that showcased his vast range.
The predominantly young audience, some in outrageous punk outfits, some in '50s tea dresses, others decked out in the preppy look, danced at their seats as Costello set down solid rock 'n' roll riffs from the '50s and '60s.
At other times he was quite effective with ballads, such as his "Shabby Doll" from the album Imperial Bedroom. In Costello's hands this vignette, presumably about a groupie who shows up backstage, was quite moving.
The Attractions, who have been with Costello through eight albums, are eminently suited to play his music. Bruce Thomas, bass, Steve Nieve, keyboards, and Pete Thomas, drums, are stylistically versatile and technically accomplished enough to follow Costello wherever his creativity takes him.
The presence of the brass section was a boon in that it helped realize many of the complex rhythms in Costello's music. One would only have hoped that more of the lyrics might have been intelligible throughout the evening.