Elvis Costello has released a wide variety of music over the last 30 years, making song selection key in pleasing his fans during live performances.
Some fans long to hear Costello perform the political punk of his earlier days such as “Oliver’s Army” and “Peace, Love and Understanding,”others want to hear songs such as, “Toledo” and Scarlet Tide” which showcases a more subdued, complex Elvis of most recent years. And there are those that want to hear it all.
With over 200 songs in his repertoire, it’s almost impossible to please everyone, but leave it up to Elvis to try and put a smile on the faces of all.
Costello has played with a few bands over the years such as the Attractions and the Rude 5 but his band of today is by far the best.
They are called the Imposters and consist of keyboardist Steve Nieve and drummer Pete Thomas from the Attractions along with newcomer, bassist Danny FaragherAt the Paramount Theatre in Oakland, on March 16, Elvis Costello and the Imposters energetically bounced to their positions on stage. With the capacity crowd of over three thousand going crazy, the band jumped right into “Blue Chair,” a song from the mid 80s release tiled “Blood and Chocolate.”
Without hesitation, they went into the song “Uncomplicated” from the same album. This is the first of many times that Pete Thomas showed the audience why he’s one of the best drummers in rock and roll. The way he attacked the toms, created an abrasive rhythm felt in the chest.
Surrounded by keyboards and gadgets–like a theremin–keyboardist Steve Nieve resembled a wild man as he spun like a tornado from keyboard to organ to theremin. His playing added a bit of controlled chaos. Which fit perfectly with Costello’s style of guitar playing.
Throughout the performance, Elvis manipulated the audience members as if they were marionettes. When he wanted them to clap, they clapped. When he wanted them quiet, the sold out crowed said not a word.
Elvis rewarded his admirers with muddy guitar solos and uncontrollable vocal shrieks. Moving from far left to far right, Elvis used every inch of the stage showing his is a master of entertainment.
He pounded on his guitar with the intensity of a jackhammer. He even screamed lyrics into the pick-ups of his six string, which was one of the greatest rock and roll performances of all time.
Elvis Costello and the Imposters performed 27 songs and played for a little over 2 hours. Costello’s song selection had them traveling down the road of what was and back up the freshly paved path of what is. Elvis showed off his skillfully powerful vocals on ballads like “Either Side of the Same Town” and “In the Darkest Place.”
Costello displayed his storytelling with songs such as “The Delivery Man” and the ever so animated “When I Was Cruel, No.2”
The last song of the night was an emotional version of “The Scarlet Tide.” During this number Elvis sang the entire third verse away from the microphone.
There was something so pure about hearing his voice without amplification. I left the theatre with memories I will never forget.
Costello has released two albums in the last year, a rock album titled, “The Delivery Man,” and a classical album titled, ” El Sogno.”
Though he did not have the means–an orchestra–to play songs from “El Sogno,” he did play seven songs from “The Delivery Man” showing the audience he could still produce fresh, emotional, and political rock at the age of 50.