It's the Bay state's newest August ritual — Elvis Costello and the Attractions at the Cape Cod Coliseum.
Last summer, Costello came, saw and conquered with a devastating two hour show that showcased his just-released Imperial Bedroom album.
Saturday, Costello was back at the Coliseum, once again touring behind a brand new album. And once again, Costello delivered.
The show began with a snappy riff from the four-piece T.K.O. horn section. They added a heaping helping of Memphis soul to Costello's clever compositions.
Elvis, dressed in a black suit, black shirt and white shoes, came out smiling. He reached back for an old favorite early on, making "Watching the Detectives" the third song in his 90-minute set. But Costello was into the new on this night. He challenged his audience by avoiding his crowd-pleasers and concentrating on more recent material from his Trust, Imperial Bedroom and brand new Punch the Clock LPs.
Costello's super backup band, The Attractions, are aptly named. Keyboardist Steve Nieve is a genius. Whether layering on majestic chords, spinning abstract melody lines, or drawing out cheesy psychedelic organ riffs, Nieve's constant inventiveness and deep feeling for Costello's music were a perpetual delight. Complimenting Nieve was Bruce Thomas' freewheeling bass lines. Drummer Pete Thomas anchored the group, showing it's possible to be rock solid and poetic at the same time.
Costello himself continues to improve. Listening to his emotive wail, it's easy to imagine him becoming the rock generation's Sinatra.
For his first encore, Costello did his best known song, "Allison." Then he put down his guitar and crooned "Clowntime Is Over." It started as a ballad, but Costello made it a vocal tour de force, milking the finish for all it was worth.
The crowd demanded more, and Costello and the Attractions came back to cap off the night with "Pump It Up," a hard rocking tune from their early days.
Elvis may yet live up to his lofty namesake.