Elvis Costello, perhaps the most prolific songwriter of recent times, took the stage Sunday night at the Universal Amphitheater.
Costello opened the 35-song set with "Sour Milk Cow Blues" one of the lesser known tracks from his latest album, Goodbye Cruel World. Costello, backed by his band, The Attractions, then carefully weaved his way through a barrage of both new songs and Costello classics such as "Watching the Detectives" and "Mystery Dance."
The newer and more mellowed songs, written by an older and less "angry" Costello, were well received; however, the old standards, like "Pump It Up" and "Red Shoes," were the ones which brought the 6,000-plus crowd screaming to its feet.
Costello appeared alone on stage at the beginning of the encore, accompanying himself with his guitar on two numbers. He proclaimed to the audience, "I want to bring back mindless spite," and then, in an unrecorded song, sang, "There's nothing to grow up for anymore."
Perhaps it's Costello's perpetual spitefulness that keeps him out of the mainstream of pop music. Despite Costello's top-40 hit of last year, "Every Day I Write the Book," and an MTV music video featuring himself, and Darryl Hall, for his latest single, "The Only Flame In Town," Costello has still not become a widely marketed star.
The Attractions — Pete Thomas, Bruce Thomas, and Maurice Worm — rejoined Costello for another encore set full of surprises. Costello was joined by Sam Moore, of the legendary Sam and Dave, for a soul / gospel version of "I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down." Costello and Moore embraced one another after the song as the crowd cheered with approval. This was one of the emotional high points of the evening.
Costello had the audience singing along during "Getting Mighty Crowded," an old Van McCoy tune, but it was "Alison," an anthem for Costello fans, which brought the house down as the crowd sang along with their spiritual leader as he pleaded, "My aim is true."