Los Angeles Times, October 6, 1986

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The Costello watch, nights 3, 4:
Witty and wonderful

Chris Willman

Elvis Costello's sprawling concert miniseries continued Friday and Saturday at the Beverly Theatre with shows that couldn't have been more different — a slowly revealing conceit, to be sure, yet a delightful one that arguably only Costello could pull off.

Friday's show (the third of five) featured backing from the Confederates, an outfit consisting of players who contributed to the King of America album released early this year. Not surprisingly, the set centered around 12 of the 15 cuts from that LP — a lovely and elegant work that may well stand up as 1986's most durable album — plus a slew of often obscure country/blues choices.

The mood was alternately gentle and swinging, with only occasional flare-ups of the more acidic Costello. (He didn't like The Times' review of his opening-night show.) Generally, it was the kind of good-spirited, cleanly played affair that the relatives in Texas might have enjoyed as much as local trendies.

But those same relatives would probably have been aghast at Saturday-night's offering. The show not only featured perennial backup band, the Attractions, thrashing through old and new songs at a terrifically nervous clip, but also a continual sideshow, not the strangest of which was real live go-go dancers gyrating in a beaded cage.

In a spectacle akin to a meeting of P.T. Barnum, any slick TV game show host you want to name and the Troggs, audience members were invited up to spin a giant wheel emblazoned with 40 song titles. Costello and crew then played whatever song was indicated by the arrow. Emcee chores were divided between X's John Doe (in his best game-show host guise) and Tom Waits (a letter-perfect carnival barker), both of whom also dueted with Costello. The Bangles (minus Michael Steele) also joined him in an acoustic segment for some Beatles harmonies. It was all warm, witty and wonderful.

Copyright 1986 Los Angeles Times

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Los Angeles Times, October 6, 1986

Chris Willman reports on EC with The Confederates, Friday, October 3, and with The Attractions, The Bangles, John Doe and Tom Waits, Saturday, October 4, 1986, Beverly Theatre, Los Angeles.


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