Elvis Costello travels back to the "Imperial Bedroom"
Giving in – but only sorta – to the trend of touring to play an entire album on a landmark anniversary of the record's release, Elvis Costello brought his band The Imposters to the Riverside Theater Sunday night as part of the "Imperial Bedroom and Other Chambers" tour.
The tour restarted in Milwaukee tonight after taking a few weeks off.
Costello revisited his much acclaimed 1982 record, "Imperial Bedroom," at the show, but being his own man, as he always has, he bucked the trend not only by not playing the record straight through, in order, but by skipping a couple tracks all together.
Some of the album's tracks weren't aired until the show's long encore (at 13 songs, the two encores were nearly as long as the 16-song set).
He opened with "The Loved Ones" and "...And in Every Home" from "Imperial Bedroom," but then dipped into earlier records like 1979's "Armed Forces" and 1981's "Trust" before returning to the "Bedroom." The rest of the songs performed from the record – Costello omitted "Little Savage" and "Boy With A Problem" – were scattered throughout the set.
The singles "Beyond Belief" and "Man Out of Time" – as well as "Kid About It" and "Town Cryer" – were saved for the encore.
Backed by his longtime band, The Imposters -- two members of which were part of the Attractions that recorded "Imperial Bedroom" with Costello – Elvis wrote a setlist that focused heavily on the earlier part of his career.
During the two-and-a-half-hour-show, Costello performed songs from his 1977 debut, "My Aim Is True," "This Year's Model," "Armed Forces," "Get Happy!!," "Blood & Chocolate," "Mighty Like A Rose" and his 1998 collaboration with Burt Bacharach, "Painted From Memory." These were the "Other Chambers."
Seated at the piano, he also shared a new song, "A Face in the Crowd."
As always, his longtime collaborators, drummer Pete Thomas, keyboardist Steve Nieve and bassist Davey Faragher were rock solid. Thomas and Nieve, especially, have been with Elvis so long they could surely play these songs in their sleep.
For the tour, the group was augmented by a pair of backing singers: Kitten Kuroi and Briana Lee. While at first the addition of the duo might've looked a bit like a rock and roll affectation, the singers provided intriguing textures on a number of songs, including a down and dirty bluesy arrangement of "Tears Before Bedtime" by Faragher, and on a stripped down reading of 1977's "Alison," with just Costello on guitar and the three voices.
A few moments – like the Bacharach tune, for example – didn't quite jibe with the evening's otherwise high-energy rock and roll vibe, but few seemed to mind and the appreciative audience was on its feet all night.
What seems most amazing about Costello these days is not only that he can still kick it with the kind of energy he had when he started out, but also that despite 40 years of constantly trying out new things and exploring different avenues, he can seamlessly step back into his role as the angry young man, despite the fact that he's no longer really either. In fact. onstage, Costello is more personable and as witty as ever.
Dressed in black, and capped with a red fedora, Costello quipped, "Every song we are going to play for you tonight is miserable."
However, there wasn't a whole lot of misery in the room at Sunday night's show.
The Loved Ones
...And in Every Home
Accidents Will Happen
You'll Never Be a Man
Tears Before Bedtime
Moods for Moderns
Watching the Detectives
The Long Honeymoon
This House is Empty Now
You Little Fool
A Face in the Crowd
This Year's Girl
All Grown Up
Kid About It
Man Out of Time
Every Day I Write the Book
Pump It Up
(What's So Funny 'bout) Peace, Love and Understanding
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