His voice nicely recovered from a canceled concert Tuesday in Idaho, Elvis Costello was back in form, pleasing a nearly full house Friday night at the Washington Pavilion's Great Hall.
"How are you?" someone yelled from the crowd after Costello tore through opening rockers "Welcome to the Working Week" and "Uncomplicated."
"I'm fine, thank you, sir," Costello quipped, explaining that he postponed the Boise concert because he lost his voice. "Let's just see, shall we?"
With The Impostors as his backup band, Costello's voice held up fine for the nearly 2¼-hour show. He growled and shouted for many tunes but was quiet and soulful for others.
His music appeals to all ages, judging by the crowd, including 19-year-old Matt Thomas of St. Cloud, Minn.
"I have every album, and he has never made the same record twice. That's why I dig him," said Thomas, a musician and English student at St. Cloud State University.
"You can't label his style," he said. "He dabbles in all styles."
Robert Dickey, 43, of Sioux Falls still has his vinyl copy of Costello's debut record, My Aim Is True, from 1977.
"I have others of his but have never seen him live," said Dickey, who brought his daughter, Lindsey, 16, to the concert.
"She likes pop-rock, and I look forward to showing her music from my era that's still being performed and is still good," he said.
Lindsey Dickey and other teens were in for a surprise when Sondre Lerche, a young singer and guitar player from Norway, opened the show.
"Oh, my God," one girl said as Lerche started his solo set, on stage with only a couple of hollow-body guitars and a microphone.
"I was just looking at his picture in Rolling Stone! I can't believe he's here. He's so cute!"
After a half-hour intermission, Costello took to the stage. Those not yet familiar with his latest album, The Delivery Man, patiently listened as the band played several selections.
"Needle Time" featured some searing electric guitar licks, which drew applause. Another new tune, "Country Darkness," is a slower, memorable song. Costello used a warm electric vibrato on his oversized hollow-body acoustic for a pleasing effect.
But when he dipped into his past 25 years of records, pulling out such standbys as "Radio Radio," some in the crowd couldn't help jumping to their feet and shouting their approval. He's not above goofing off, too, inserting the melody "I Feel Pretty" in the middle of a rollicking guitar solo, drawing chuckles.
Costello satisfied his fans with other well-known gems from the past, including his reggae-inflected "Watching the Detectives" and slow-ballad hit "Alison," played as a medley with "Suspicious Minds," made famous by the king of rock and his namesake, Elvis Presley.
"He's phenomenal," said Gene Ellenson, 41, who came from Huron to hear Costello. "I'm not a hard-core fan, but I can see that he is a true artist."