The li'l woman and I caught Elvis Costello and the Imposters at the Fillmore Auditorium last night, and it was likely the best show I've ever seen the onetime "angry young man" ever do. I have been a big fan for years, but for whatever reason hesitated on getting tickets this time. Partly due to finances, but also likely due to my not being too crazy about the Fillmore. But as the day grew closer, I got more interested in going, and come Saturday morning I went down to the Fillmore box office and picked up a pair of tickets. Was there ever any doubt? Not really.
After the opening act, we managed to get a good spot up near the stage where the li'l woman could see. As the house lights went out, Elvis grooved out to the front of the stage and his band took their places as David and Ansel Collins' classic "Double Barrel" played — wow, probably the coolest tune I've even seen anyone use as their introduction music. I knew immediately we were in for a good time!
They launched into "Big Tears," followed in quick succession by "Uncomplicated," "Lipstick Vogue" and "Radio, Radio." Geez, barely ten minutes into the show and I already felt like I had gotten my moneys worth.
Things then slowed down for a trio of tunes from his newest release The Delivery Man, which they hit heavily throughout the evening. This album has been a grower for me, but apparently it has made a bigger impression than I thought — I recognized most of the tunes they played from it.
The live rendition of "Country Darkness" was particularly nice, and "Monkey to Man" proved to be a fun audience sing-along (Elvis pulled off a very funny spoken introduction to that one), while "Button My Lip" and the title track just flat out smoked.
They were also generous with the old favorites: "Blame it on Cain," "(I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea," "Watching the Detectives," "Mystery Dance," "Pump It Up," "(What's So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding?" and "Clubland" (Elvis picked out the melody of "I Feel Pretty" during the extended ending to that one, the li'l woman pointed that out to me), to name a few.
"Kinder Murder" (from Brutal Youth) was a nice surprise, and the downright weird "Hurry Down Doomsday (The Bugs Are Taking Over)" (from the otherwise lukewarm Mighty Like A Rose) really threw me. "Alison" nicely went into a version of "Suspicious Minds" (originally by some other guy named Elvis), and a few other covers were played — "Mystery Train," "Why Don't You Love Me (Like You Used To Do)?," and "Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down."
They closed with "The Scarlet Tide" from the new album, and Elvis stepped away from the microphone towards the end and sang it from the edge of the stage to the crowd. You could have heard a pin drop as the audience attempted to catch every word. And then it was over — two hours gone by in a flash, the houselights up, no encores.
Last night was one of those rare occasions when we go out to a concert and feel really young for the crowd. The li'l woman has decided that she likes the "geezer rock shows." The crowds are never pushy, most people are polite enough to let you have your spot back if you step away for a minute, and the show is usually over at a reasonable hour.
I can't tell you how many nights I've been at a show, sipping an overpriced beer and suffering through a terrible warm-up act, and I have asked myself "what in the world am I doing here?" Most of the time I end up being rewarded for my patience, and then there are shows like last night which transcend all expectations. Yeah, this is the reason I keep going out.