WILLIAMSTOWN — The living Elvis, Elvis Costello, got the summer season at the Saratoga (N.Y.) Performing Arts Center off to a fiery start last Sunday night with an oddly paced but ultimately triumphant show.
Backed by his original trio, The Attractions, Costello kicked things off with blistering versions of a handful of vintage classics such as "Hand in Hand" and "On the Beat."
Whatever momentum Costello established early on was quickly dissipated when, with only a couple of exceptions, he proceeded exclusively to play songs off his new album, Brutal Youth (Warner Bros.).
While much of the new material lives up to the best work from his distinguished career, it just doesn't yet have the visceral impact of Costello's classics. When Costello left the stage and the house lights were turned on, a palpable dismay — as well as considerable boos — was heard and felt throughout the crowd.
As it turned out, this was just to be a prologue to the real concert, which over the course of three encores boasted 12 favorite and forgotten gems, including "You Belong to Me," "Lipstick Vogue," "Radio, Radio" and "Less Than Zero."
By the time Costello brought the evening to a climax with a raging "Pump It Up," the audience — at least those who remained — clearly was.