Elvis Costello and his misnamed Rude 5 band performed curiously bloated music redeemed by occasional flashes of greatness at this June 6 concert.
The Replacements, a Minneapolis band that has flirted with greatness for 10 years, played less than half as long as Costello but its opening set had twice the heart. Standouts were "Talent Show," a rip-roaring "Someone Take The Wheel," and "Satellite," a showcase for bassist Tommy Stinson.
Costello and his technically superb group, ranging from former Elvis Presley bassist Jerry Scheff to no-wave guitarist Marc Ribot, offered a tantalizing, maddening set of nearly two hours at this amphitheater.
The show stressed material from Costello's inconclusive new Warner Bros. album, Mighty Like A Rose, some early work, and unrecorded versions of tunes by touchstones Willie Dixon and Little Richard.
Looking like an Amish hipster, Costello sang wonderfully and finally got it on during the encores: a cheek-to-cheek recasting of "Alison," a turbulent "(What's So Funny About) Peace, Love And Understanding," and a wild, liberating "Pump It Up."
The new "So Like Candy" and "Harpies Bizarre" also were sharp, sparked by Larry Knechtel's florid piano and the booming drums of former Attraction Pete Thomas.
But Costello rushed the mean-spirited, melodic "The Other Side Of Summer" and the wistful "Veronica," and gave too much prominence to the apocalyptic nonsense of "Hurry Down Doomsday (The Bugs Are Taking Over)."
Costello's set felt like a recital, a star with backup. The Replacements, touring behind their current Sire Records disc, All Shook Down, gave a go-for-broke show.
Halfway through a monthlong U.S. tour, Costello has never sounded clearer, but may, at least temporarily, have run out of things to say. The surprisingly tight Replacements, who took over opening spot from the BoDeans that night, offered conviction and power.