No malignant cancer scares or tickles of the throat were going to prevent transplanted hometown hero, Elvis Costello, from performing a marathon show this past Tuesday evening at Downtown's Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Currently on tour in support of his latest, highly acclaimed new album, Look Now, Costello and his band of Imposters played a nearly three hour set that maybe went on too long for some of the fatigued and heavily perfumed baby boomers, but wowed die-hards and new fans of his dense catalogue.
New tracks like "Burnt Sugar is so Bitter," and "Don't Look Now," held their own alongside classic bangers like "This Year's Girl," and "Watching the Detectives," offering a consistent set that tested the ferocity of his voice, and also the buttons of his snug outfit. Costello, never one to be immediately heralded for his understated guitar chops, shred his signature Jazzmaster erratically, walloping the audience with grungy interludes throughout the evening. But Good Guy Costello never overshadowed his insanely tight band, specifically virtuoso keys smasher Steve Nieve whose focused demeanour never broke, or missed a single note.
On the surface of his tunes, Costello presents a playful persona of pop oriented punk and reggae fused hits, but beneath is a lingering misery that is bubbling up as he ages. He even called out his O.G. New Wave followers for never fully absorbing his lyrical mysticism back in the day, but understanding it more now with increasing wear and tear of their skin and bones.
Going through Elvis Costello's immense discography can be a daunting task, but Tuesday night offered an eclectic vignette of his past works, collaborations and life experiences. He's a genuinely funny and solid dude, with a likely huge arsenal of Dad jokes…but it might be time to let a few stitches out of those trousers.