WHAT A MISTAKE! — So you decided not to listen to your friends at Music Notes, and you stayed away from Elvis Costello's show Tuesday in Convention Hall, Asbury Park. Baaaaaaaaaaad move.
Costello was overwhelming. Tune after tune, old or new, rocking or chilling, Costello demonstrated that he is the modern pop master. No one writes a melody like Elvis Costello.
The show also provided a history lesson for Costello followers, contrasting the simple lines of his early days with the richer and more challenging tones of his last two pop albums.
Most of all, Costello displayed bow much he has altered personally. Once the bad boy of rock, Costello was a true pro Tuesday night, returning for four encores, each five or six songs in duration. And although no chatterbox, Costello at least acknowledged his audience for a change, shouting a disarmingly sincere "Thank you!!" time and again.
As we all know, happiness is not free, and Costello paid the price in bitter brilliance. The edge was missing from the old tunes, the venom tapped. The fierce looks of years past were replaced by an abstracted intensity. Nevertheless, the sheer musical strength of "Red Shoes," "Radio, Radio," "Peace, Love and Understanding," et al, made them satisfying, If not as emotionally wringing as before.
Costello's new sounds, fueled by more subtle emotions than hate, were the ones be performed the best. "Man Out of Time," "Town Crier," and especially "Kid About It" raised goosebumps instead of bristling hairs. And the enthusiastic, non-sell-out crowd enjoyed every second of it.