Tuesday night in Cameron in front of an enthusiastic crowd, Elvis Costello lived up to his first commandment of music: "Go Ye Forth Into the World and Groove." He grooved and the audience loved it, as Costello put on an unusual and energy-packed performance.
Costello's longtime friend and producer Nick Lowe opened as a solo act. He played for an hour, using only his acoustic guitar. He closed with one of his most well known songs, "I Knew the Bride (When She Used to Rock and Roll)."
Shortly after 9 p.m., Elvis Costello bounded onstage to begin his "Almost Alone" show. Costello's backup band is known as The Attractions, but his latest trend has been to travel without them. Instead the stage held a number of props, including a piano, a Gatorade bar, a television (which was on all night), a screen and slide projector, and a Go-Go cage. He jumped right into "(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes," a song from his first album, My Aim is True, released in 1977.
Then with a jibe at the swarm of photographers in front of the stage he said. "I thought I was the president for a minute," and Costello began his theme of the night — "I want to show you my world." He opened an umbrella with a map of the world on it and flipped through slides on the screen from his "holiday."
Costello continued in good humor by dedicating "Brilliant Mistake" to the colorization of old movies. He also dedicated a song to the two most beautiful in the world — Ava Gardner, from right here in North Carolina, and my wife Caitlin." (His wife is Cait O'Riordan of the Irish band the Pogues.) Elvis' only other musical backup came when he opened a music box and a loud rap beat broke forth. With this he jammed through "Uncomplicated," a track front his most recent album, Blood and Chocolate, released last year.
After ending the first set with a powerful rendition of "I Want You," Costello left the stage. He reentered to cheers and a standing ovation to play "American Without Tears" from his other 1986 album King of America. Elvis extended the song with a story in between verses that were not in the original version.
Nick Lowe came on with Costello for the next "encore" and they played "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding." But that wasn't the end of the show.
The second set began around 10:30 with Costello appearing in a red robe and mortarboard, calling himself Dr. Napoleon Dynamite. Dynamite is Costello's pseudonym on his last album and is listed for vocals, electric guitar and cover painting.
At last the reknowned "Fabulous Spinning Songbook" was unveiled. It was a large, vertical, yellow and red wheel (not unlike the Wheel of Fortune) on which were titles of songs by Costello and others. Volunteers from the audience were brought onstage by "Mr. Xavier Valentine" to state their requests and then spin the wheel. Some of the best songs of the night came from this set, including "Alison," "Pump it Up" and "Clubland." Elvis used the back beat once again for "Clubland," and the two wheel-spinners danced their way into the Go-Go cage.
After more than two hours, Costello ended the show saying the clock was telling him it was time to go. The lights went up almost immediately. But Elvis Costello had shown his audience his richly creative world and together they had gone forth and grooved.