Wednesday night was "new wave" night, or as Willie DeVille likes to call himself, "permanent wave." It was a historic show for a number of reasons: because of the billing, and because this was the last concert for the two limeys before heading back for England.
Nick Lowe, Elvis's long time friend as well as producer, opened the show with a brief (28 minute) set that covered material from his Pure Pop For Now People lp. Dave Edmunds (oh, come on, you know who he is) played guitar with Lowe. There were many exhilarating highs and he left the audience hungry.
DeVille came on next. Zevon would have approved of his hair; his pompadour was perfect. Last time I saw Willie was at the BAM awards, before that at the Old Waldorf and he projects much better in a small hall. It was a good show — well-executed and flawless — but it was boring. Part of the problem is the new album, which, except for the explosive "Soul Twist" lacks any punch. And DeVille's nasty snarl gets tedious after awhile. There's nothing to rival "Gunslinger," or "Cadillac Walk" on his last record. He's far from washed-up though.
Elvis Costello also projects better in a small facility. His quirky gestures and snake-like stare are lost in a hall the size of Winterland. I last saw the ex-computer programmer at Zellerbach. Sitting in the very first row, he transfixed me with his icy stare, just like a cobra, and finished me off with "Less Than Zero."
His new album This Year's Model is just as strong as his debut lp, with mini-classics like "Lip Service," "Pump It Up," and "Radio, Radio," (the single).
Costello easily stole the show that night, with Nick Lowe running a close second.