No, not Presley, the one and only Costello. It is nights like tonight that make me remember how much I love Elvis Costello. A truly phenomenal show tonight at The Beacon in New York as I was lucky enough to be in town this week, and luckier that old friend Jeff D. had a ticket for me. Two EC shows in two weeks, The Wiltern in LA on the 12th and then tonight. LA was very good, tonight, the last night of the tour, was off the charts great.
Touring again with The Imposters and bringing back after 25 years The Spinning Songbook, which is what it sounds. A huge spinning wheel with about 50 songs on it, that fans come on stage and spin, and Elvis then plays. Of course there are set selections combine with the wheel to put forth 2 1/2 hours of high intensity rock and roll. Who could imagine a show where an artist as prolific as Elvis also covers, Dylan, The Who, The Stones, The Beatles and even Prince. Add in Elvis staples like Alison, Watching the Detectives, Radio Radio, What’s So Funny About Peace, Love and Understanding, Pump it Up, then throw in classics and rarely played tunes like Shabby Doll, Beyond Belief, Mystery Dance, Blood and Chocolate, Accidents Will Happen, I Want You, King of America and more.
I go back to ’77 with Elvis, his NYC debut in December at the legendary Bottom Line, Elvis then the angry young “punk” who had taken the rock world by storm. Back then it would have been hard to imagine that 34 years later he would be such a force in the music world, that he would become one of rock’s prolific songwriters, that he would turn into such a rock spokesperson almost. No longer the angry young man, he even bows at the end of shows, but more an elder statesman who understands his place in the world and what others have contributed. One could have never imagined Elvis covering The Who, or playing an hour with The Dead (which he did a month ago in NYC). Who could imagined that after those two classic albums released within a year of one another. “My Aim is True” and “This Year’s Model”, that there would be another 30 or so, or that he would explore jazz, country, record with Burt Bacharach and others. Never saw it coming, glad it did. Glad that as acclaimed as he was/is that he never became mainstream or so big that he would sell out arenas. No Elvis always knew his place, clubs, theatres and such, the perfect settings for him.
And now when one examines the history of rock I think you have to put Elvis right up there with Dylan, Springsteen and Neil Young (at least for me, I will listen to other suggestions) as the greatest songwriters the genre has seen.
If you are reading this and don’t have knowledge of EC, go listen to the aforementioned albums (they were albums then) and experience their greatness. Elvis the master of the 3 minute rocker.
Elvis, I promise not to ever forget how great you are and how much I do love your music.