Elvis Costello, who had never played North Carolina, gave a solo concert to a sellout crowd last Tuesday in Duke University's Cameron Indoor Stadium.
When Costello walked onstage in his trademark sportscoat and tapered jeans, many fans were surprised that he was not followed by his band, the Attractions. Costello opened the show with an old classic, "The Angels Want to Wear My Red Shoes," but it took him an hour to get himself and the audience into the groove.
The highlight of the first half of the concert were songs by other artists, including Buddy Holly's "Not Fade Away" and the Grateful Dead's "Ship of Fools" and "It Must Have Been the Roses.** He played the latter song after reading a recognizable Deadhead
poem, "The Day the Grateful Dead Got Busted." When Costello left the stage after the first hour, people clapped for an encore. Little did they know that Costello would play for another hour and a half.
He returned to stage in a red circus ringmaster's outfit. The stage had been turned into a mini-carnival, with a large roulette wheel listing Elvis' songs.
He resumed the show with "Every Day I Write the Book," followed by "Club Land" and "What's So Funny About Peace Love and Understanding?," which he performed in a duet with Nick Lowe, who had played as opening act for Costello.
Costello pulled several people on stage to spin the wheel, and when people requested certain songs he caused the wheel to stop on that selection. The tunes that got the biggest crowd response were "Allison" and the finale, "Pump It Up."
The show was disappointing only in that it did not include "Witching the Detectives." The crowd did not exactly go bananas over Elvis, even at their enthusiastic, and this response may well encourage Costello to avoid North Carolina on future touts.