Like fine wine, Elvis Costello has improved with age, and his performance Friday at the Auditorium was subtle and invigorating.
Costello has gone through a number of changes in his short but productive career. His albums cover a variety of musical styles, and his once-urgent sound has become quieter and more thoughtful.
Like David Bowie, Costello changes styles not for the sake of novelty, but because he is interested in all kinds of music and reflects these Influences In his work.
Costello and his band, the Attractions, gave new interpretations to his older material. At times, they just refined them, as in "Mystery Dance," while at other times the changes were more substantial.
Keyboard man Steve Nieve and drummer Pete Thomas gave "Watching the Detectives" a pronounced reggae feeling, while "Secondary Modern," a quiet song on record, was loud and brassy.
The band brought along a horn section for part of the show to give the songs a new dimension and fullness. The horns were at their best on material from the group's latest album, Punch the Clack. "Let Them All Talk" was a driving number that got the show off to a rousing start, and "Possession" was a powerful song, full of dramatic horn flourishes and impassioned vocals.
The opening act, Aztec Camera, survived severe problems with the sound system and played a short but interesting set of complex, rhythmic music.