Elvis Costello doesn't need gimmicks to stage a great concert.
He doesn't need the wheel-of-fortune-inspired Spinning Songbook he used during his 1986 tour. He doesn't need the giant satin heart with the 13 "Deadly Sins" pinned on it that he brought with him on his recent solo outing. And he doesn't need master of ceremonies and alter-ego Napoleon Dynamite to host the festivities.
He just needs to be Elvis Costello and that's what the British singer/songwriter demonstrated before a sold-out crowd last night at Great Woods.
As always, Costello assembled a top-notch touring band — the Rude 5 (actually a six-piece group, but "the Rude 6" doesn't sound quite as snappy). The multi-talented band was superb and provided Costello with solid support. Drummer Pete Thomas was the only Attraction in the sextet, but Costello had a few other familiar faces in the band as well. Guitarist Marc Ribot and bassist Jerry Scheff joined Elvis during his "Confederates" tour.
Costello started off slowly, opening with the old favorite "Accidents Will Happen." He played a good selection of songs off his latest album, Spike, and previewed two numbers he wrote with Paul McCartney.
After comical renditions of "Pads Paws and Claws" and "God's Comic," Costello did a brief solo break. The set started to rev-up during his cover of the Beatles' chestnut, "Leave My Kitten Alone."
By the time he returned for the first encore, the previously subdued crowd had warmed up considerably. Costello's generous wrap-up included Spike hits "This Town" and "Veronica" as well as old standbys, "Alison," "Mystery Dance" and "Pump It Up."