I knew the instant I discovered this concert that I would be attending. Lo and behold I did make it to the concert, though last minute. I had a gut feeling that I should attend this concert for unknown reasons. In the end I'm glad I attended as I had such an entertaining night.
Once at the venue I bought my ticket and located my nosebleed seats. Now normally I'm an individual that tends to keep to themselves during concerts. I'm not sociable due to the fact that attending these concerts are my escape from my reality problems (a form of "me time"). The man seated next to me actually turned out to be an enjoyable fella to conversate with. His vast knowledge regarding Costello took me by surprise as I could not keep up with him. Through our conversations I discovered that this evening marked his 17th time attending a Costello concert. In addition that, he had not set foot in the Los Angeles Greek Theater in over 40 years before this night. I enjoyed hearing the stories he had as he's been attending concerts for decades with his favorite being David Bowie during his Ziggy Stardust tour. What I found enjoyable about our chats was that he was another fellow gay man that had a strong passion for rock music. Unfortunately I did not catch his name, but I'm glad that I had the opportunity to be seated next to him.
An unusual aspect of this concert is the lack of an opening band. There are only a handful of concerts that I've attended that featured just the main artist or band with no supporting acts. No complaints though as this meant more time to view the legendary Elvis Costello perform. As I spoke to the man next to me the lights dimmed signaling the arrival of Elvis Costello and The Imposters. They would by the end of the evening deliver an epic, memorable two and half hour performance.
Costello had embarked on his Imperial Bedroom and Other Chambers tour to celebrate the 35th anniversary release of his seventh studio album Imperial Bedroom. NME, Rolling Stone, The Slant, The Village Voice, among others have ranked the album among the best of all times. As The Imposters — Davey Faragher (bassist), Steve Nieve (keyboards), Pete Thomas (drummer) — and Elvis Costello settled in they started the night with "The Loved Ones." The stage behind the band members had a large projection screen which throughout the night displayed Costello's album covers or images related to the song. All of the images were redesigned in the similar art style as the album cover of Imperial Bedroom. Barney Bubbles is the one who designed the original artwork for the album, Snakecharmer & Reclining Octopus. Costello briefly talked about the cover art mentioning how his friend designed it to represent him.
From beginning to end Costello and The Imposters were in top form as they sang hit after hit. Memorable numbers that evening included "Tears Before Bedtime," "Shabby Doll," "This House is Empty Now," and "Pidgin English." Though reflecting back on it, these happen to be some of the most emotional performances of the night.
My favorite number of the night is the eerily haunting performance of "Watching The Detectives." The Imposters were shrouded with a purple hue while Costello himself had a green spotlight on him. The colors created a mysterious, melancholy atmosphere as the projection screen displayed imagery of film noir posters and femme fatales. As the song came to an end Costello asked the crowd if they ever wonder what happens to the people once the song is over? He pondered about this on the songs that he wrote back in 1977; it is an interesting thought to think about the fate of the people in songs. He followed up the song with a performance of "The Long Honeymoon," which can be viewed as a sequel to "Watching the Detectives." In addition to playing Imperial Bedroom songs Costello scattered a few classic songs of his throughout the setlist.
As Costello arrived back for an encore he wore a different hat; from red to grey now. He wore an all black outfit with a lighter grey suit to match. All night he never took off his sunglasses, not once from what I recall.
As he returned back on stage Costello did an intimate performance of "Alison" with the two female singers — Kitten Kuroi and Briana Lee — who accompanied the artist that evening. The performance consisted of Costello singing into an old fashioned microphone while the ladies stood next to him front and center. For this part of the concert Costello delivered a simplistic tone as he started to finish the night off.
Keyboardist Nieve joined Costello for the next two performances; "Shot With His Own Gun" and "Talking In The Dark." Nieve played the keyboard heavenly and Costello picked up a guitar for their live performance of "Almost Blue." The rest of The Imposters came back to finish off the next three songs. As "Man Out of Time" came to an end everybody on stage came together to take a bow.
As I headed towards the exit I heard Costello come back on stage for an unbelievable second encore. This astonished me as I've never had an artists do two encore before. I turned back to see him once more which I'm glad I did. I left during the last few seconds of "Town Cryer," leaving on a high note. I'm anticipating the next time I see him, hoping it'll be when he performs King of America in its entirety.