THE BROADWAY THEATRE, NYC — It's the Elvis Costello Show! With limited commercial interruption! Starring the fabulous, kicky, zany and legendary Spinning Songbook! With special guest legend Buster Poindexter! The rockin' Attractions! And, of course, you, you the studio audience who made it all possible!
But first, let's listen to some of that madcap 'guilt and vengeance' Elvis first caught our ear with in the swingin' '70's. It's "(I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea"! It's vintage Costello, getting himself all worked up in a tizzy for you, you the studio audience who made it all possible.
Who may our first contestant might be? It's two comely, stagestruck fans who spin the songbook wheel that's marked with forty legendary titles! 'Round and 'round it goes and where it lands — "Lip Service," a legendary, a truly legendary number. The Attractions rock it at full tilt as Elvis plays the `E - C - B' chord progression that launched a thousand parties, broke a thousand hearts, and would have made the song a big hit back in '78 had the top forty not been clogged with such auteur classics as "Boogie Shoes," "Ebony Eyes," and "Disco Inferno."
Devoted fans spin the wheel. It lands on "Strict Time." It's "Shabby Doll." It's "Uncomplicated" and Elvis gets dramatic. He bangs the opening chord. He stops. He bangs the opening chord. He stops. He builds an incredible tension that can only be broken by a commercial message. "Now we're going to take a commercial break," Elvis announces.
Then it's Elvis Costello solo, on acoustic and electric guitar, playing five songs, taking care to pick the best ones, taking care to redo them and make them totally fresh, making "Radio Sweetheart" a clap-a-long crowd pleaser, dissembling "You Little Fool" into a totally different tune, plucking only one guitar string on "Riot Act," ending "Party Girl" with that anguished "give you anything babe!" scream, startling in a quiet theatre, and everyone thinks he's going to belt it again, but instead he backs away from the microphone like a man from a snake, back, slowly, slowly strumming the song's closing riff to fade.
Back to the show! Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome the tuxed wonder, the boho host of the Reagan era, the quintessential master of clubland ceremonies: Buster Poindexter! Buster greets the next contestant. "My name is Alison," she says. Stranger than fiction! And the next one: "My name is Alston — like Halston without the H." Buster is decked: "Ladies and Gentlemen did you hear that? Like Halston without the H!" The crowd jumps up and down like Let's Make A Deal contestants. The Attractions suddenly seem like the studio band on a game show. This is true conceptual art! It doesn't have to announce itself because you — you the studio audience who made all this possible — are part of it.
The wheel spins and spins. It's "Blue Chair," "Less Than Zero," "Ferry Across The Mersey." It's New York this week, Boston last week, and Philadelphia the next. Spin the wheel of fortune, see the show of shows, meet the host of hosts, and take your seat in the theatre of destiny! Ladies and Gentlemen: a word from our sponsor!