Elvis Costello's five-night stand on Broadway roughly coincided with the World Series, which may have kept die-hard Meta fans at bay. Still, the Costello series hardly suffered at the box office; all tickets were snapped up in just half an hour — and with good reason. Not only was the intimate venue a treat, but Costello presented a different show each night.
Most of the attention focused on the second and fourth dates of the Oct. 21-25 stint. The former was billed as half Costello solo and half Elvis & the Confederates. The latter, featuring Costello with his usual band, the Attractions, offered something called the Spinning Songbook.
On both of these nights, fans were treated to a formidable sampling of Costello standards as well as lesser-known tracks buried among his 13 albums, such as "Green Shirt," "Lip Service," and "Jack Of All Parades." But that was the least of it.
Consider: magicians Penn & Teller practically threatening Costello into performing Prince's "Pop Life"; Mrs. Elvis Costello (Cait O'Riordan of the Pogues) wildly frugging in a go-go cage; audience members being chosen at random, game-show-style, by Buster Poindexter (David Johansen) to spin a giant wheel bearing 40 Costello songs, followed by the headliner's performance of each song chosen.
That's just a little of the nonstop zaniness that took place at the Broadway. Also featured were Costello covering Tom Petty's "American Girl," the Hollies' "King Midas In Reverse," the Psychedelic Furs' "Pretty In Pink," and Gerry & the Pacemakers' "Ferry Across The Mersey"; a slide show from Costello's world travels; a duet with T-Bone Burnett, presented as the Coward Brothers, on George Jones and Johnny Cash songs. And, of course, there was "On Broadway."
This was not your typical Costello. The man was not only jovial but downright hilarious, passionate, outgoing, and musically sharper than ever. With the Attractions and the Confederates and on his own, he proved a total showman who's got a long way to go before he runs short of ideas.