Oh, I just don't know where to begin...
With that opening line from "Accidents Will Happen," Elvis Costello and the Attractions launched into the beginning of their sold-out, five-night stand at the Beverly Theatre. If Wednesday night's performance is any indication of things to come on the "Costello Sings Again" tour, this just may be the singer's best trip around the country yet.
Not only has Costello dropped his angry-young-man facade on stage, he seemed as if he was actually enjoying himself as he played songs spanning all twelve of his albums, including the recently released Blood and Chocolate. His main concentration Wednesday night was on older material, however, particularly his first three LPs, My Aim is True, This Year's Model and Armed Forces. Songs such as "No Action," "This Year's Girl" and "Watching the Detectives" were greeted with enthusiastic frenzy as fans danced up and down the aisles. Costello ballads such as "Jack of All Parades" and "Alison" were few and far between, as the singer opted to stick to more rock-oriented tunes.
One of the highlights of the performance was the unique "request spot." Leave it to Costello to inject a new concept into every tour. Grinning proudly, he yelled, "Ladies and gentlemen, it's request time!" as he pounced on a red light which blazed "REQUEST.” Fans shoved papers in Costello's face as he eagerly grabbed at them. "I'm not even going to read this one. It says 'Radio Free Europe.' These people must think they're at last night's concert." (This was a reference to R.E.M.'s Tuesday performance at the Universal Amphitheatre.)
After deliberating about which requests to honor, Costello sang "Kid About It" and "Lovable." He continued with requests for approximately 25 minutes before he realized he had completely forgotten his playlist.
Costello, dressed in black suit, shirt and tie, thanked the audience repeatedly for "participating" in the show. He seemed genuinely thrilled that his "request spot" idea was so well received. At the Saturday night performance, Costello is expected to have a roulette wheel listing his songs, which audience members will spin to decide what will be played next.
Two encores were performed, including such classics as "Lip Service," "Pump it Up" and a haunting rendition of "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood,” during which Costello had the audience hum the guitar lines. His deep feelings for the lyrics of the song were obvious, as his face twisted in anguish while he sang.
Costello is one of the rare singers who has the ability to sound better in concert than on vinyl, due to the way his voice carries and echoes. His fans stared with rapt attention Wednesday as Costello hit high notes with perfect clarity, his voice never warbling. The singer doesn't have extremely complicated melodies, which led to an appealing, raw sound to his vocals.
The lighting during the show was simplistic, with only a few different colored lights alternating to the beat of the drums.
Costello will perform at the Beverly Theatre through Sunday. All shows begin at 8 p.m.