Elvis Costello on bringing something old that’s something new to Crossroads KC

Kansas City Star: Timothy Finn: June 4th 2017

Elvis Costello and his band are revisiting his 1982 album “Imperial Bedroom” on their latest tour, which stops in Kansas City on Friday. “We’re looking at these songs and asking, ‘How do we feel about them now?’ ” he says.

Elvis Costello and his band are revisiting his 1982 album “Imperial Bedroom” on their latest tour, which stops in Kansas City on Friday. “We’re looking at these songs and asking, ‘How do we feel about them now?’ ” he says.

The name of Elvis Costello’s latest tour is Imperial Bedroom and Other Chambers, and the intent is to present “Imperial Bedroom,” one of his most beloved and mercurial albums, in its entirety, including songs he’d never performed live.

Friday night, the tour stops at Crossroads KC, a place Costello is familiar with: He stopped there on a sweltering late-June evening in 2011.

“Crossroads is hot as can be sometimes,” he told The Star recently. “The last time we were there, it was unbelievably hot. It was 105 degrees onstage. It was crazy. Maybe in early June it won’t be so bad.”

Costello had more to talk about than the weather. He also discussed the “Imperial Bedroom” album and what it has been like to explore its music and sounds 35 years after its release.


Q: What inspired the idea behind this tour?

A: I decided we’d take the starting point of the songs from that record and look at what it would take to play them the way we feel about them now. That includes everything.

There are four, five, six songs from the album that have stayed in our repertoire. The rest of them we found too difficult to play live. Either we didn’t have the patience for the arrangements or even the voices because a lot of them were heavily vocally arranged. Now we’ve got a great singing band member, which we didn’t have back then; nobody could sing in the Attractions. But Davey (Faragher) is a great vocalist and a really good vocal arranger. He’s worked with two other singers we’ve enlisted, so now we have four voices.

It’s by no means a recitation from cover to cover. And we interweave it with other songs that I feel have something to do with the same themes. Some of those songs are much newer, some songs preceded that album, and there’s also a space in the show for several well-known songs that sort of belong in this world, where something about the music or the lyrics makes me feel that’s the right place in the show.

And that’s an intriguing puzzle because it’s quite different from the past two visits to Kansas City, which were Detour and before that the Spectacular Spinning Songbook, which by their very nature were the opposite of this: very random.

Here we have fewer songs rehearsed, but the songs are rehearsed in a lot more detail because they are fairly complex and we want to do them the best we can.

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