Elvis Costello's concert last night at the LC Pavilion was the greatest musical version of Wheel of Fortune these ears have yet heard.
This rock 'n' roll concert had all the elements of excellent entertainment, using a gimmick I remember Costello using many years ago — the spinning wheel.
This time, Costello's stage was dominated by the large, multicolored wheel with song titles or themes on each segment. He brought people from the audience to spin it. They got to stay on stage after they spun, lounging in seats Costello claimed were from Donald Trump, and often dancing in a go-go cage or even singing along with Costello.
For his part, Costello, 56, and still bespectacled, would say cheesy things as the wheel spun. He acted like a carnival barker or a game-show host, albeit one who could play a Fender Jazzmaster and Telecaster.
It was corny and ironic and cool, all at the same time, and it was the perfect way to shake up a set list with a couple decades' worth of excellent material. Costello has called himself the Scrabble champion of rock, and his mastery of the written and sung word was in evidence for about 2½ hours, including encores.
Before spinning the wheel, a fedora-wearing Costello and his band the Imposters launched into "I Hope You're Happy Now," "Heart of the City" (by Nick Lowe), "Mystery Dance," a snippet of "Shotgun," and "Radio Radio."
"These are songs about love, sex, death and dancing — although not necessarily in that order," said Costello, who had changed into a top hat and was calling himself Napoleon Dynamite.
There were women dancing throughout the show in the go-go cage, and Costello himself even did a stint in it, and it reminded one of something out of Austin Powers or Laugh-In and worked as a gilded bird cage — at one point, Costello sang "And Your Bird Can Sing" from the Beatles' Revolver album (the name of Costello's tour, appropriately enough, was "The Revolver," on its fourth stop).
And the wheel revolved to reveal interesting facets of Costello's career — for example, there were four songs from the rollicking, underrated Get Happy album — "I Can't Stand Up for Falling Down," "High Fidelity," "I Stand Accused" and "Riot Act."
Naturally, not every category could be delved into. For example, I would have loved to have heard "Country Darkness," whatever that might be, and favorites like Veronica did not get performed, but let's see, there were these great songs: "Deep Dark Truthful Mirror," "Watching the Detectives," "Alison" (with a line from "Tracks of My Tears"), "Indoor Fireworks," "Less Than Zero," "Slow Drag of Josephine," "(I Don't Want to Go to) Chelsea," "(What's So Funny Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding," "Every Day I Write the Book," a bluesy "Pump it Up" (with a bit of Busted) and a heartbreaking rendition of "God Give Me Strength."