Elvis Costello, one of the leaders of the New Wave scene that charged across America in the late 1970s, is still going strong.
His sold-out show at Harborlights last night was a little erratic, but still rang up enough highlights to keep the crowd boppin' and cheering into the night.
In relatively good spirits, and backed by his latest incarnation of the Attractions, including keyboard whiz Steve Nieve, Costello and his troupe sauntered onstage unannounced, but wastal no time making their presence felt as they ripped into a blistering "Opportunity."
"Man of the World" featured Costello chipping in with some slashing guitar work. And several songs off his new CD, All This Useless Beauty, sounded fresh and crisp, including nice versions of "Why Can't A Man Stand Alone" and a killer rendition of "Little Atoms," as Costello's work on the 12-string guitar soared above the crowd.
Costello gave the folks a breather by manning his acoustic guitar and teaming with piano man Steve Nieve on plush versions of "Party Girls" and "Veronica." This was followed by a less-than-inspired "Poor Fractured Atlas," off the new CD.
And just when it looked like a much-needed jumpstart was going to fall short with the opening chords of a too mellow "Oliver's Army," the remainder of the band — Pete Thomas on drums and Bruce Thomas on bass — returned to the stage and powered the song to its electrifying finish in a full-throttle attack.
Costello paused here to wish a young man in the audience a happy 21st birthday, before delivering solid renditions of "The Other End of the Telescope" and "Man Out Of Time." He followed this with the gorgeous ballad, "Distorted Angel," which segued nicely into a reworking of "(I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea."
Costello made it a point to combine songs several time during the evening. A positively incendiary version of "Pump It Up" was capped with a few verses of "Slow Down," while "Radio Sweetheart" segued into Van Morrison's "Jackie Wilson Said." He also threw in a passionate "Riot Act," a crowd-pleasing "Accidents Will Happen," and a thrilling version of "Complicated Shadows."
In all, it was an inspired night for the rock veteran, as Elvis Costello was definitely pumped up and delivered the goods with a vengeance.