Those of us at the Ukiah City Council meeting Wednesday night missed a live broadcast of Elvis Costello and the Attractions, carried by satellite from Texas (and thankfully taped for for the benefit of all the luckless local music critics who also double as city reporters).
Backed by horns, Costello raged through a nearly two-hour set concentrating on material from Get Happy and Imperial Bedroom, with a smattering of the old hits and selected cuts from his newest, Punch the Clock.
As usual, Costello transposed the majority of the material. Like few performers (Dylan is the only other one who comes to mind), Costello invariably restructures his songs to breath fresh life into every performance.
One example was the revamped and horn-laden "Clowntime Is Over" (which already exists in no less than two recorded versions). Costello also added a few new covers, mostly croon tunes.
Attractions' keyboardist Steve Nieve nearly stole the show with his inventive fills and phenomenal expertise. His solos often reprised classical themes. (Such skills can be heard on his own new album, Keyboard Jungle.)
In all, the show was a dazzling showcase of the current Costello tour, which concludes with performances in the Bay Area on Sept. 23 and 24. Aztec Camera, the Scottish band you read about In the Sunday Journal, has been opening all shows on the tour.
Incidentally, Costello has been unusual glib of late. He even talks to Life Magazine in the issue now on the stands.