"I'm doing fine, thanks!" came the introduction from Elvis Costello to the festival crowd in his first Riot Fest appearance since 2012.
This was particularly great news from the English singer who canceled a run of summer dates following a cancer scare. Costello was yet another subject of online Riot Fest speculation in the weeks leading up to the festival as fans wondered aloud whether he'd actually be performing. But over the course of an hour on stage Saturday night, Costello let his music do the talking, dispelling any and all rumors.
Costello, who turned 64 last month, and his four-piece backing band The Imposters, set the pace early with a rollicking take on their 1978 classic "Pump it Up." Most artists would be content to have an energetic call to arms like "Pump it Up" waiting as their closing number. Elvis Costello, however, uses it to set the pace and then builds on it throughout.
What followed was a murderer's row of classics from the Costello pop and punk canon: "Miracle Man," "Clubland," "Radio Radio" and "(I Don't Want to go to) Chelsea" opened the show.
As always, Costello's secret weapon is the playing of Steve Nieve on the Vox Continental organ which anchors the Imposters and has provided Costello with invaluable interplay since 1977.
Elvis changed it up with a solo intro to "Radio Radio," while his guitar work on "Lipstick Vogue" was an early highlight to a set that ultimately ended with the timely words of Nick Lowe on a drawn out take on "(What's So Funny 'bout) Peace, Love and Understanding."