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Elvis Costello immediately made it clear Wednesday night at the Universal Amphitheatre that his current touring quartet — longtime backing band The Attractions — shouldn't be confused with his previous one — the classical Brodsky Quartet.
He exploded through the nearly two-hour set's opening songs — "No Action," "High Fidelity" and "The Beat" — with a fieriness that recalled the Costello of 1978 rather than the 1993 model.
He squeezed 29 songs into the briskly paced set, sprinkling a generous assortment of terrific old tunes among selections from his recent Warner Bros. album, Brutal Youth.
The reunited Attractions repeatedly provided the sparks that ignited Costello's pyrotechnics. Bassist Bruce Thomas, keyboard specialist Steve Nieve and drummer Pete Thomas played impeccably, with the latter deserving special notice for his rapid-fire, propulsive rhythms.
After the whiz-bang opening, Costello settled into slower material during the middle third of the set. Highlights included a grab-you-by-the-lapels version of the soulful ballad "Deep Dark Truthful Mirror" and a deftly limber rendition of the jazz-inflected "Clown Strike."
The band then kicked back into full roar for the set's final segment, snapping off such longtime Costello staples as "Watching the Detectives" and "Lipstick Vogue" with feverish potency.
After Wednesday's sizzling display, it's safe to say that this Elvis hasn't left the building quite yet.
Canada's Crash Test Dummies opened with a sedate 45-minute set dominated by frontman Brad Roberts' unusual croon.
Roberts' gently philosophical songs and the band's languid blend of electric and acoustic elements are anomalies in this age of thrashy overkill.
But pleasant as the band's meticulous music sounds, only the songs with strong melodic hooks, like the hit "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm," made any kind of lasting impression live.
Elvis Costello and the Attractions are appearing at 8:15 tonight at Universal Amphitheatre and 8 p.m. Saturday at Irvine Meadows. Tickets are $32.50, $28.50, $22.50.
Tags: Universal Amphitheatre • Universal City • The Attractions • Bruce Thomas • Steve Nieve • Pete Thomas • The Brodsky Quartet • No Action • High Fidelity • The Beat • Warner Bros. • Brutal Youth • Deep Dark Truthful Mirror • Clown Strike • Watching The Detectives • Lipstick Vogue • Crash Test Dummies
San Pedro News-Pilot, May 13, 1994
Sam Gnerre reviews Elvis Costello & The Attractions and opening act Crash Test Dummies, Wednesday, May 11, 1994, Universal Amphitheatre, Universal City, California.