Elvis Costello is slated to return to New Orleans, a city with which he has developed an intimate relationship over the past decade, in March 2015. His spring solo tour, cheekily dubbed Detour, stops at the Civic Theatre on March 12. Tickets go on sale Friday, Dec. 5.
The 13-date Detour tour kicks off March 1 in Boulder, Colo., and concludes on March 18 in Fort Lauderdale, Fl. He recently logged five weeks of solo shows in Europe.
Costello has been a frequent visitor to the Crescent City in the nine years since Hurricane Katrina. He recorded much of The River in Reverse, his joint album with Allen Toussaint, at the old Piety Street Studios in Bywater several months after the storm. He and Toussaint subsequently embarked on a much-lauded series of tours that included several joint appearances in New Orleans.
Costello played himself in the pilot episode of HBO's Treme series, appearing in a scene with trumpeter Kermit Ruffins at Vaughan's. The show included the Costello/Toussaint recording session in its chronicle of post-Katrina New Orleans.
More recently, Costello took part in a 75th birthday tribute to Toussaint at the Harrah's Casino Theatre between the weekends of the 2013 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival presented by Shell.
In the fall of 1999, Costello performed an almost solo show at the House of Blues; he was accompanied only by Steve Nieve, the longtime keyboardist in his band the Attractions. Here's an excerpt from my review of that show:
"Costello offered up a generous career overview, from his earliest albums to his recent collaboration with veteran popmeister Burt Bacharach. The show ran to nearly 2½ hours; given his rapturous reception in the sold-out room, he could have played all night. His voice never faltered as he rasped as the anguished romantic or crooned like a Tony Bennett-style balladeer. He wielded acoustic and electric guitars with the style and grace of a matador with a cape. Such was his intensity that he seemed to have difficulty occupying his hands when they weren't strumming a guitar; he generally kept his left hand thrust in his pocket, and clasped his right to the microphone stand. ...
"The spartan retooling of 'Watching the Detectives' was a revelation. Costello sliced off concise, dirty chords on an electric as Nieve karate-chopped the upper-register piano keys, before finally slamming the piano shut. The longing of 'Alison' and 'Veronica' burned through. The audience matched his intensity by shouting back the chorus of the rousing 'Pump It Up.'
"That Costello is still passionate about material written 20 years ago made his set especially immediate. After four encores, he finally asked for and received quiet so that he could sing directly to the audience, without the microphone. He briefly pantomimed trombone and sax parts for levity, but mostly laid himself bare in a direct, naked communication with his listeners. It was an intimate finale to a very special performance."
As he's coming to town in March, it seems unlikely that he would return for the 2015 New Orleans Jazz Fest.