Florida Times-Union, April 28, 2012

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Elvis Costello delivers with an
audience-driven tour de force

Heather Lovejoy

Songs about love and sex and death.

In a black top hat and wielding a cane, that's what Elvis Costello promised the crowd early in his show at the Florida Theatre on Friday night in Jacksonville. What he delivered was just that, but so much more.

Costello takes audience participation at concerts to a new level. In a performance about 2 hours and 45 minutes long, he and his band The Imposters let audience members partially determine the outcome of the evening. Guided by a Vanna White imposter and a go-go dancer in knee-high red boots, people were invited on stage to give the band's huge Spectacular Spinning Songbook a whirl and then display their dancing moves (or lack thereof).

The passionate and dedicated showman, decked out in a tweed fedora and a black-and-white, polka-dotted shirt under his suit jacket, took the stage at about 8:15 p.m. and launched a four-song spell that started with the disdainful "I Hope Your Happy Now." As the night progressed, such "songs of sneer," as described on the Hammer of Songs that accompanied the Spinning Songbook, were what he did best.

First to spin the wheel was an ecstatic woman named Victoria, who seemed in danger of spontaneously combusting each time Costello got close to her. The pointer landed on "(What's So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding," a favorite that brought the full, but not sold out, crowd to its feet. The energy was high, especially when he improvised a snippet of The Kinks' song "Victoria."

The next spin landed on "Time," a category that yielded four songs. It was the one stretch in the show that took too much time. Some people seemed to be getting antsy.

But after a sarcastic crack at Fox News from Costello, the next three songs picked up the pace and ended with a couple on a first date, Amy and Jack, kissing in the mock cage.

The music tightened up as the band found a groove with a great version of Johnny Cash's "Cry! Cry! Cry!" A few songs later, the rousing "National Ransom" was one of the musical highlights of the show.

He ended the set with crowd pleasers. As the lights went down and blackness filled the stage, Costello's voice echoing "I Want You" made it seem as if the end of the night was near. But the encore was really part two, including some acoustic songs (one with a ukulele). The show was beginning to feel too long, but fortunately, took a raucous musical turn.

The rest of the band returned to the stage for "Watching the Detectives" and raged through crowd favorites such as "Pump it Up" and "I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down." Having unleashed a fierceness that had not yet been seen, the concert ended in a rock ‘n' roll fury.


1. "I Hope You're Happy Now"
2. "Heart of the City"
3. "Mystery Dance"
4. "Radio, Radio"
5. "(What's So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding" (Nick Lowe cover)
6. "Clowntime is Over"
7. "Strict Time"
8. "Man Out of Time"
9. "Out of Time" (Rolling Stones cover)
10. "Oliver's Army"
11. "No Particular Place to Go" (Chuck Berry cover)
12. "Monkey to Man"
13. "Cry! Cry! Cry!" (Johnny Cash cover)
14. "Everyday I Write the Book"
15. "Poisoned Rose"
16. "Brilliant Mistake"
17. "National Ransom"
18. "So Like Candy"
19. "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" (Nina Simone/The Animals cover)
20. "Veronica"
21. "(I Don't Want to Go to) Chelsea"
22. "I Want You"


23. "A Slow Drag With Josephine"
24. "Alison"
25. "Who's the Meanest Gal in Town Josephine"
26. "Watching the Detectives"
27. "Miracle Man"
28. "This Year's Girl"
29. "Pump It Up"
30. "Uncomplicated"
31. "I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down"
32. "High Fidelity"
33. "The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes"
34. "Purple Rain" (Prince cover)


Florida Times-Union, April 28, 2012

Heather Lovejoy reviews Elvis Costello & The Imposters, Friday, April 27, 2012, Florida Theatre, Jacksonville, FL.


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