The controversial, silent giant from Chelsea is one of the initial imports from the British punk scene in the early to mid '70's. Elvis Costello continues to bellow out imaginative, emotional, yet radical and danceable music.
Elvis played three nights at the Tower Theatre in Philadelphia promoting his new album Blood and Chocolate. With each night came a more diverse and new show. Elvis's first night in Philly featured a wheel (of Wheel of Fortune fame) with his songs embossed on each rung of the wheel. Members of the audience were called up on stage to spin the wheel and wherever the wheel stopped, that's what song was played. The second night featured a dance floor on stage and many members of the audience were up dancing.
But it was the third night that I attended in which Elvis reunited with his Attractions and played some classic hard-core rock 'n roll, which is his trademark (along with his specs).
Many songs in their first set were unfamiliar to me but, then again, I did recognize three or four. He played fabulous versions of "Accidents Can Happen" and a very moving, intense version of "I Want You." During "I Want You," the stage lights were shut off and Elvis was in the spotlight in his classic pose (knees together and guitar in lap) bellowing in that classic voice of his. All throughout the show his guitar wept with a ferocity I had seldom heard before.
After his first set, he returned for four encores in which he played his well-known classics like "Angel Gonna Wear My Red Shoes" and "Pump It Up."
I was glad to have finally been exposed to his music. Unlike the British punk movement, which has slacked off substantially, Elvis Costello has kept a firm grip on the neck of the queen and remains a strong force in the British rock scene. Keep smiling Elvis. Thank you for a fantastic performance.