Elvis Costello loves the theatre. And he embraced the vaudeville days of Warner Theatre last week.
Making his return to the Washington venue 45 years after his last visit, Costello showed off the range of his interests, musical styles, humour and cantankerous streak in a 2 hour and 20 minute show.
Costello is touring behind his latest album The Boy Named If, but this show at least gave us a different look than what the rocker’s greatest hits may portray him to be. Unearthing gems and oddities like I Don’t Want Your Lyndon Johnson, Hetty O’Hara Confidential, The Man You Love to Hate and closing the show with a mashup of I Want You/Say a Little Prayer, Costello showed that his music remains as fresh as ever.
After a spat with one disruptive audience member (“You don’t want to f*** with me. I’ll f*** you up, Costello said), the new-wave artist sat on a red lounge chair with a century-old guitar to perform a song that he and the late Burt Bacharach wrote.
It was Costello at his most disarming.
Fitzie’s track of the day, part one: Toledo, by Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach
Another highlight was his restructuring and decomposition of the song Accidents Will Happen, reinventing it as more of a ballad than a power-pop bop.
What was particular interesting was, how when he got to his biggest hits at the end, Costello began singing behind the beat a la Bob Dylan. For a moment I thought perhaps he just couldn’t keep up with Pump It Up anymore until I realised it was a purposeful way of playing around with the sound.
This was not the Elvis Costello show I had expected. But I will say it was one I greatly enjoyed and respected. If you’re singing the same tunes for 45 years, then certainly you’d want to give them some sort of fresh take eventually, right?
Fitzie’s track of the day, part two: Mystery Dance, by Elvis Costello
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