Opening night of Elvis Costello's first U.S. tour in three years was highlighted by a brilliant song selection and an ingenious finale. But the March 31 Boston College concert suffered from the usual first-night glitches.
"I'm a friend of your mother's," Costello greeted the student crowd. "I was here before you were born."
The 90-minute set mixed songs from his Warner Bros. debut, Spike, with early material. Frequently he dropped in snatches of oldies midsong.
A faulty guitar cable turned the performance of "Veronica," Costello's current single, into a disaster. An electrified "Pump It Up" featured beat-box accompaniment and Hendrix-like guitar work.
A rousing duet of "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding?" followed featuring friend Nick Lowe.
Then the real fun began. A low-tech satin heart was brought on-stage. Upon it were written the names of deadly sins. Fans were asked to request songs to match each sin.
Oddly, all requests came from Costello's 1977 debut My Aim is True, an album made when most of the crowd was in grade school. That may not have been the response he hoped for during this two-month college tour.