Going to Santa Barbara to see a concert may seem a little out of the way.
But not when it's an Elvis Costello concert.
Last Sunday, Costello put on a show that lasted more than two hours to a crowd of hundreds at the Santa Barbara County Bowl.
Costello showed he could still hold his own.
Even in a concert season of legendary bands such as the Rolling Stones and The Who.
At 7:50 p.m. the songwriter, who was raised in Liverpool, opened the show with "Accidents Will Happen." Following the opening number, he told the audience he had just finished a tour in Orange County and that he was happy to be playing to a "civilized" crowd.
After his second song, "Honey, Are You Straight or Are You Blind?" from the LP Blood & Chocolate, he introduced the next song by saying, "To those of you who thought the show wouldn't start on time, this next song is for you. It's called 'Brilliant Mistake.' "
Costello was backed by The Rude 5, which included Jerry Scheff, Larry Knechtel, Michael Blair and Steven Soles, and former Attractions members drummer Pete Thomas and guitarist Marc Ribot. During the concert, they displayed his elaborate fusion of jazz, country blues and rock 'n' roll.
Costello, who was born Declan Patrick MacManus, had something for everyone at this show. Those who have been Elvis fans for quite some time were treated to a walk down memory lane with songs such as "Brilliant Mistake," "Lovable," "Alison" and "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding."
Those fans new to Costello's talent heard releases such as "Deep Dark Truthful Mirror," "Pads, Paws and Claws," "This Town" and the hit "Veronica" from his commercially successful 1989 LP Spike.
In fact, he introduced "Veronica", during one of his three encores, by saying the name will be on a T-shirt and on a trophy (Costello won best best male video with "Veronica" at the MTV Video Awards Sept. 6).
At the beginning of the concert, the crowd was relatively quiet. But it did not take long for the crowd to respond to Costello and The Rude 5.
When he broke into "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding," the crowd was on their feet singing and swinging to the song about social consciousness.
The only problem the band seemed to encounter was when Thomas broke a couple of drumsticks. Although he hurled them towards the back of the stage, he grabbed another pair without losing pace with rest of the band.
During the song "God's Comic," from Costello's solo release, Spike, he broke into some social commentary while the band played the chords in the background.
He said that God could say "fuck" because, he was God. He also said that God didn't care how cold it was in Alaska and that those fuckers who were responsible for the Exxon spill should get up off their asses and go clean up the mess.
When Costello finished the song the audience applauded both the music and his words.
Halfway through the show, Costello performed on his own with his acoustic guitar.
With his band and without, Costello sang his lyrics of biting wit with a clear and crisp voice.
Costello was quoted in Rolling Stone as saying, "I don't want to be immodest about it (the show), but I really think it's worth seeing. It's something different, but at the same time it's not some wig-out. It's done with a lot of heart. If you want nostalgia experience, there's probably at least a dozen of those bands out this summer. But you won't see this again."
He's right, you won't see this again.