Philadelphia City Paper, May 23, 2011

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Elvis Costello

Tower Theatre

A.D. Amorosi

Thursday night's show at Tower Theatre with Elvis Costello was a gas. The newly slimmed down Costello leapt down memory lane by reviving the Spectacular Spinning Songbook that he first used at the Tower in 1985. Costello and his Imposters did raging versions of classics from his own back pages ("I Hope You're Happy Now," "Brilliant Mistake" dedicated to Glenn Beck, "Mystery Dance," "Radio, Radio," "Heart of the City") and those from a few of his faves like McCartney ("Let Me Roll It") and Townshend ("Substitute"). Costello and his Imposters relived the previous Spectacular Spinning Songbook's staging with a TV that showed only static ("We always keep it tuned to Fox News," Costello joked) and a caged go-go dancer "Katerina Valentina" (in reality, Philly's own Kate WaWa Watson Wallace).

But Costello's true nod to the past is when he mentioned playing at The Hot Club, the Philly venue where he played in December of 1977 for two dates. Little did Elvis know that I brought him a surprise (and vice versa) when Hot Club owner David Carroll became my special guest for the evening. Carroll was the first guy to bring Costello to Philly, maybe America if I remember my tour dates correctly. Carroll was opening his new venue, Rogue's Gallery, the next night so getting him away from his 21st street saloon was a hard sell. But when he accepted to be my guest the first thing he did was find one of a few remaining "Hot Club" buttons (he had one hundred made after Costello played his venue), out it in an envelope with the hope he'd get it to EC. "The first thing I remember was that it was snowing when Elvis played," laughs Carroll. "The second thing is that we actually paid him — like $800 or a thousand dollars." I didn't tell Carroll that I was trying to set up a meeting between the two titans until we got to the Waterford around the corner. I mean, you can never know if these things are going to work out.

Thankfully Live Nation's Jim Sutcliffe made it happen for Carroll and I to get backstage where EC and DC met for the first time in over 30 years. Costello remembered the snow on the night of the show but kept mentioning something about running to South Philly between sets. Nobody was quite certain what that meant. Carroll told him that he never left the venue and told Costello that he would place the poster that Elvis signed that December night upon the wall of his new Rogue's Gallery. Everyone smiled.

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Philadelphia City Paper, May 23, 2011


A.D. Amorosi reviews Elvis Costello & The Imposters, Thursday, May 19, 2011, Tower Theater, Upper Darby, PA.


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