Some of the people who went to the Elvis Costello show at the Nokia Theater in Times Square probably thought the show was okay. There wasn't a lot of crowd interaction, the stage and light show was for the most part sparse, and there were a lot of obscure songs (no "Vernonica" - sorry).
There were probably a few people (although not many) who simply can't be pleased with any performance. "Well, yeah he played a lot of older tracks, but how could he NOT play the alternate version of "That's How You Got Killed Before" from the B-sides of King of America?" You're never going to make those people happy.
There was definitely one person who was sceptical going in, determined to not buy any merchandise and ready to chalk the night up to a pleasant evening. By the end of the second encore he was outside buying a shirt and admitting it was a really great show.
And for the vast majority of the sellout crowd there that night (yours truly included), it was an amazing jam-packed show of 31 songs, including Beatles and John Lennon covers, theremins, sing-alongs, and plenty of focus on the first 10 years of his 30 year career, a career that seems to only improve over time. A couple pics and random thoughts below:
At this point (almost a week later - more on why that is later), I can't remember what songs were playing when I snapped the pics. The line to get in was two city blocks long, and in the pouring rain all anyone could think about was getting in and getting dry. By the time we made it in, EC had just launched into opener "Welcome to the Working Week" off debut album My Aim is True. By the time I snapped this shot I think we were on "Shabby Doll," which rocked.
Very blurry close-up (camera phone - sorry) around a killer version of "Beyond Belief." There was a large focus on the early stuff, especially around This Year's Model, Get Happy, and Imperial Bedroom, all of which was alright by me. There were a couple newer tracks - right after this he launched into a menacing, lurching version of "Alibi" off of When I Was Cruel and a great rendition of "Either Side of the Same Town" from latest Imposter album The Delivery Man earlier were both awesome. Let's face it, I'm probably going to think everything was awesome!
The need for a drink and to dry off from the constant bopping forced us to the back of the theater for the encores, which were definitely the best part of the evening. As great as it was to hear some of the more obscure favorites, having the band rock hard through a flurry of hits including "No Action," "High Fidelity," and "Radio Radio" among others was fantastic. The whole night was lean and mean, EC opting for more rock-oriented arrangements of his tunes.
After some cover tunes, a track from last year's River in Reverse that included some great anti-war lyrics (from "I Don't Want to be a Soldier"), and a solo version of "Alison" that I'm not ashamed to say moved me to call my wife in the hospital and hold the phone in the air so she could hear it, they finally ended with an insane "(What's so Funny About) Peace Love and Understanding" that included the main melody to "Singin' in the Rain" during the piano solo.
Altogether an incredibly wet, incredibly fun evening of excellent music.