Elvis Costello follows the music, not the playbook, in rollicking Bethlehem show

Nepa Scene: Jason Riedmiller: October 28th 2016. Photo’s by Dana Grubb

“We’ve been wanting to play the album for you. We never had the discipline before. We don’t now, either,” Elvis Costello told the crowd at Sands Bethlehem Event Center on Sunday, Oct. 23.

This performance was supposed to be of Costello’s 1982 album “Imperial Bedroom,” but in the era of bands playing classic albums in order, Elvis and his Imposters just couldn’t do it. And good for them. It’s kind of a boring idea.

Opening the show with “The Town Where Time Stood Still,” a B-side from the “Bedroom” sessions and, by the third number, diverting to “Accidents Will Happen” from 1979’s “Armed Forces.” Very apropos.

Costello and his band returned to the evening’s intended material, but certainly not in order or without further detours. These diversions included the night’s highlights – a slowed-down “Watching the Detectives” that featured an eerie and epic Costello guitar solo and “Alison,” which was performed into a room mic with his backup singers and electric guitar only.


The high-energy 62-year-old Englishman was in good spirits, joking with crowd, “Been to church today? We came by donkey.” The band was playing in Bethlehem on a Sunday, after all.

Elvis brought the two-hour show to a close with “Man Out of Time” and fan favorite “Everyday I Write the Book” before returning quickly to the stage for a rollicking encore of “Pump It Up” and “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding” that saw the crowd rush the stage and dance with abandon. Elvis Costello and the Imposters accomplished what every band should – they left the audience thrilled and wanting more.