reCAP :: Elvis Costello Solo :: 2013.11.12
He’s been backed by the Attractions, the Imposters, the Bacharach, and the list goes on as wide as Toledo but on Tuesday night, Elvis Costello stood on The Capitol Theatre stage alone with nothing more than his collection of guitars, a mandolin, a keyboard planted to his right, and a black curtain behind him. Boy was that enough. In a tour de force performance — the second of two nights at The Cap — the music master dug deep into his catalog, churning out one “wicked” track after the other from opener “King Horse” (off Get Happy) to his swan song of “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace Love and Understanding” mashed with his latest album Wise Up Ghost’s “Tripwire.”
In-between those tracks were over two-hours of deep cuts, infamous hits, glorious head scratchers, and obvious joy. Whether it was performing songs of Blood & Chocolate or The Imperial Bedroom or the aforementioned Wise Up Ghost, his recent release with The Roots, Costello commanded the stage and your attention. His aim was true on this cold, bitter night in Port Chester: he played songs he wanted to play and knew his fans were smart enough to stay with him throughout. That trust was center stage later in the night when Costello took advantage of the intimacy and acoustics of The Cap, and performed “Dirty Rotten Shame” off mic. I think I heard a pin drop during it.
Many of the songs Costello played were somewhat drab and admittedly about “deceit” as much as they were about “love,” but on this Tuesday evening, his vinyl-ready vocals never wavered, and the spotlight shined on his lyrical genius. Costello could’ve played the hits or hocked his new album, but he didn’t. He just played an uncompromising set — his songs, his terms, and we’re the better for it. Halfway through his set, he said he was going to bring out a special guest. After a brief pause, he cracked, “Me.” Who needs a special guest when you have one Elvis in the building?