As they say, "What a difference a day makes" or in this case, a year. Last February when Elvis Costello made his Capital District debut at Page Hall, not only did he shortchange his audience but his manager even managed to land a few blows on an unfortunate SUNYA concert board member. However, last Sunday night, Elvis redeemed himself with a stellar performance at the Palace.
Drawing heavily from his last two albums, Armed Forces and This Year's Model, Costello weaved his way from material like the rocker "Goon Squad" to the more ballad-like "Two Little Hitlers." This intertwining of songs is something that Costello has learned in his last year of touring as last year's show was a constant barrage of rockers. Also toned down in Sunday's performance was the inclusion of unreleased songs. Only four of Costello's numbers were as yet unreleased, the highlight of these four being a bouncy number entitled "High-Fidelity." Still retained in his machine-gun attack which allowed for little communication with the audience, but despite this the audience still reacted when he asked, "Do you think radio is very good today?", by responding with a deafening "No!" Elvis replied in fashion, "Well, I think you'll like this song. It's called 'Radio, Radio,'" as he launched into the controversial song which he introduced to the country on Saturday Night Live.
The biggest reaction, though, were saved for the two singles that Elvis had off My Aim is True. "Alison," a song which has been made "acceptable" by Linda Ronstadt's cover version, and "Watching the Detectives" seem to be the songs most closely identified with Elvis by the general public and hence they're popular. The new single, "Accidents Will Happen" was well received but it was the performance of "Lipstick Vogue" and its dramatic lighting (which at one point had a red spot just on Costello's face which made him look like Lucifer himself) that had my vote for song of the evening.
At the close of "Radio, Radio" which ended the sixteen song, one hour set, Costello left the stage, the house lights came on and the PA started blaring the taped music as is usual when Elvis finishes a show. This is because Elvis Costello does not do encores. However, Albany didn't realize this and remained standing and applauding for five minutes until the impossible occurred. Leading his band back out, Elvis swung into a two song encore from This Year's Model before hurriedly climbing into his waiting bus and leaving. "Pump It Up" served to get the audience moving as he reminded them, "You Belong To Me."
With three albums and two tours of the States behind him, Elvis Costello has come a long way from playing outside a hotel in England to get signed by CBS and judging by the changes he's undergone, he'll be going much further.