Elvis Costello very well could be the best known rocker in horned-rimmed glasses since Buddy Holly — and for good reason… he ROCKS!
Costello blew in to town last night (September 29) on his Wheel of Songs Tour with his faithful band, The Imposters. With long time keyboardist/friend/collaborator Steve Nieve, original drummer Pete Thomas and bassist Davey Faragher, the quartet pumped up the crowd for two and a half hours at the intimate Warner Theater.
I have had the pleasure of seeing Elvis play many concerts throughout the years — most notably two years ago on the summer-kissed slopes of Deer Valley, Utah, where he was accompanied by the Utah Symphony Orchestra — but this is the first time I have seen him genuinely comfortable in his own skin. Clad in a two piece suit, fedora and trademark black-rimmed glasses, he put on a show that included a lot of energy, a few cool surprises and a little touch of kitschy-ness to the performance.
As with his 1988 stop at the Lisner Auditorium, Costello invited fans up on stage to spin a giant Wheel-o-Songs. He faithfully played each song that was selected and even allowed a few lucky fans to name their own tunes. One almost-brilliant instant occurred when a pair of young girls was brought up on stage. When Costello asked their names, the first replied, "Alison" and the crowd, understandably, went wild. But Costello made her spin the wheel and regardless of her song-famous name, he did not relent and play his signature song. But that's okay — since there was more than enough amazing material he could draw upon from his 35 year career (have I really been listening to him that long???).
Once the lucky fan(s) spun the wheel, they were invited to either sit at the makeshift "Society Lounge" bar and enjoy a cocktail on stage or jump into the Go-Go cage and dance while Costello performed. One inebriated young man jumped into the Go-Go Cage uninvited and had a good ol' time. Stage security kept a close eye on him, but wisely did not interrupt his performance until the end of the song at which time the two lovely go-go dancers escorted him through the back of the stage and — presumably — out the door. No harm, No foul. Typical Elvis Costello. The show went on.
Highlights included: "Watching the Detectives," "New Lace Sleeves" (one of my favorites of the evening), "Pump It Up," "Man Out of Time," "I Want You," "So Like Candy," "Chelsea," "Sleep of the Just," "Next Time 'Round" and "Strict Time." He closed with an amazing version of "Peace, Love and Understanding" — more appropriate now, than ever.