Elvis Costello is on tour with a Big Wheel of Songs and an entertaining stage show.
The first thing you’ll notice when you go to find your seat at the new Elvis Costello show is, probably, that Elvis has started without you.
The man is on time. He’s ready to go. And there is no opening act. Are you kidding? Elvis Costello’s catalog is so big that he needs audience participation to figure out which songs to play.
To wit: dwarfing him onstage is a “one hundred and fifty feet tall” (Elvis’ measurement) Wheel of Fortune-style, well, WHEEL, emblazoned with names of his songs, which from my vantage point in the nosebleed section are granted a little blurry, but just know “Peace Love and Understanding” is up there and the man is not leaving before he plays that seminal hit.
Audience members – mostly female, though there was one hippie stoner type and, sweetly, a gal that insisted on bringing her husband on stage with her – are brought up to the stage by Katerina, a lovely blonde gaily dressed as sort of a cross between a cigarette girl and a can can dancer, where they spin the wheel to select a song. As Elvis launches into the hit, Katerina leads them to the other side of the stage, into a circular dance cage where they are encouraged to go-go for a period undetermined (the first girl – who of course had no idea this was the drill – was stuck in the dance cage for three songs or more) before they are led out to sit with Katerina near the band or alternately go back to their seats. (Elvis refers to the area they sit in as The Society Lounge, and a few audience members are treated to drinks, with Elvis warning “Don’t drink that yellow drink, I had four or five of those before I came onstage…”)
He dons a top hat and grabs a cane for the wheel spinning festivities, and plays up the snake oil salesman angle just a bit, and is thoroughly entertaining, seamlesslly engaging the audience so that three hours go by like five minutes. Before you know it, he’s played “Watching the Detectives”, “Radio Radio”, “Every Day I Write The Book”, “Alison”, “I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down”, and finally, the song everyone has been waiting for, and I know this because they have been yelling it: “Peace, Love, and Understanding”, which he rolls right into “Pump It Up”, to leave the show on a high, happy, energized note.
Elvis Costello is an amazing performer, and his latest show should not be missed.