Elvis Costello was nothing short of flabbergasting at Forest Hills Tennis Stadium this weekend, and if there are still tickets available for his concert at Pier 84 tonight, you're well advised to grab them up — fast.
Costello has always been better in concert than on record, communicating both his anger and his tenderness with vengeance. Costello's albums soften the toughness and render his sweet numbers bland.
With his hack-up hand, The Attractions — Bruce Thomas. Pete Thomas, and Steve Nerve — in higher-than-high gear, the songs at Forest Hills ran one right into the nest. No breathing space, no time-outs, no pansying about the stage.
What was especially remarkable was how in control Costello and the band were. Loud as they played — and the volume was cranked up to a painfully high level — they created an entirely new ambience for every song.
The keyboards were central to that ambient approach, using a wide variety of synthesized sounds to foster that individuality. And Costello's singing was easily the most passionate I've ever heard from him.
The program was drawn from the span of his albums, with much taken from the recent Imperial Bedroom and with the older material sounding as fresh and vital as the new.
Boiled down to a few words, Elvis Costello at Forest Hills was, to date, the concert of the year. Or perhaps of several years.