Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, November 5, 2002

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Fans quickly realize that Costello hasn't
lost any of his attraction

John Dolen

Elvis Costello was one dash raconteur, one dash performance artist and the rest pump-it-up rocker for a sellout crowd in Miami Beach on Saturday night, an audience that appeared most happy to see him.

Gone was the balladeer of his memorable 1999 stop in Sunrise, when he was accompanied only by Steve Nieve on piano. Back was the hammering sound of the Attractions of years gone by, in a new configuration called the Imposters, roaring through an evening generously sampling the "new wave" days.

"Accidents Will Happen," "I Don't Want to Go to Chelsea," "Alison," "(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes," "Clubland," "Girl Talk" and "Radio Radio" were played with full gusto, and a currency that made them feel timeless.

The Imposters are three parts Attractions, Costello's band from the '70s, with Nieve furiously pacing among various keyboards, and Pete Thomas thrashing away on drums. Newcomer Davey Faragher played the trademark bass lines of the early Attractions work with aplomb, while Costello notched a nimble lead guitar, did his customary faux swaggering, and basically sang his heart out.

Unlike the band in the commercial that names the wrong tour stop from the stage, Costello knew where he was, establishing a rapport early in the evening when a rowdy fan started shouting. Costello replied, "Excuse me?" and then said he couldn't hear him.

"Was he speaking in Spanish?" the singer joked, to laughter. He then parried another retort with, "You can come up here and sing if you want, but it won't sound as good."

When he mentioned a little-publicized cousin album to When I Was Cruel, his current chart non-topper, only a handful of people cheered. "There's all the people in the States who've bought it, right out there," he said of Cruel Smile.

The show was amiably proceeding with various numbers and Costello's anecdotes, but it abruptly went into high gear during Blood and Chocolate as the performer's encouragement of folks dancing in the front rows led to a surge of hundreds rushing toward the stage of the Jackie Gleason Theater, filling the aisles from the top balconies and elsewhere. From that point on, most were on their feet straight to the end of the two-hour set.

Costello was born Declan McManus, and calls Elvis Costello his stage name. ("Like Count Basie isn't really a count," he once said.) So it is only fitting that his namesake got time, after Alison segued into Jim Reeves' "He'll Have to Go (Put Your Sweet Lips a Little Closer to the Phone)" and blossomed into a Costello-ized version of Elvis Presley's "Suspicious Minds."

Yes, the lads were having fun. Midway through "Deep Dark Truthful Mirror" from 1989's Spike, they did some more musical wading, right into Smokey Robinson's "You Really Got a Hold on Me."

Songs from When I Was Cruel were spread through the set, the most effective including the catchy 45 and the evocative "Tart." But the loud mix on a tune such as "Episode of Blonde" made it pretty hard to fathom.

The evening's performance art came with some playful acting on "Watching the Detectives," but found full form in the final number, which was as much theatrics as song. In a dim, purple-lit stage rendition of "I Want You," Costello took the song from a desperately jealous to a feverishly twisted mode, reminding us that this was as much a part of Costello's creative terrain as "Shipbuilding" and "She."


The Sun-Sentinel, November 1, 2002

John Dolen reviews Elvis Costello & The Imposters, Saturday, November 2, 2002, Jackie Gleason Theatre, Miami Beach, FL.


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