The Orion: Leila Rodriguez: September 27th, 2012
Elvis Costello didn’t bask in his thunderous greeting from the audience. He just picked up his guitar and played.
Costello took the stage Tuesday night at Laxson Auditorium decked in a suit and tie, signature top hat and spectacles.
The event, hosted by Chico Performances, marked a stop on Costello’s “2054: The Centenary Show” solo tour, a title which some fans accidentally mistook for “Cemetery Show.”
“People got worried real fast,” Costello said.
Though Costello may not be 100 years old, he wanted to celebrate the extent of his career and play his music for fans now in case he wouldn’t “be around to perform the songs on the appointed date,” he said.
His selection for the evening wasn’t too surprising. Costello has explored creating music in the country, new wave, punk and classical rock genres throughout his career. With more than 400 songs to choose from, he dabbled in all genres and albums, but remembered not to leave out beloved classics like “Veronica,” “Everyday I Write the Book” and “King of America.”
The British singer songwriter also showcased his dynamic unplugged sound and displayed some exceptional whistling skills.
He played a beautiful rendition of “New Amsterdam,” blending it with The Beatles’ “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away.” The two meshed wonderfully, calling oohs and ahhs from audience members.
Costello’s powerful lyrics still resonated onstage with only him and his guitar, but to make up for absent accompaniment, he teased spectators with prerecorded tracks and playback guitar riffs as he fiddled with pedals and gadgets below his feet.
He electrified the venue when a lively prerecorded intro to “Watching the Detectives” welcomed a staggering on-stage guitar solo.
Though the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer never got around to actually creating a tune with “rock ‘n’ roll” in the title, he certainly proved why he is so remarkable.
At the age of 58, Costello’s voice is still as refined as it was at the beginning of his career. He had no problem belting out lyrics and shredding on guitar. Even when he stepped away from the microphone, his voice rang through the auditorium.
“He’s always going back to everything,” said Megan Schwartz, who grew up listening to Costello. “My music taste has changed with him.”
After years of attending his concerts and following his music, she was pleased to know her hero is just as humble, kind and great as she had hoped, she said after meeting him at the show.
Costello shared childhood memories and personal stories between sets, turning the evening into an intimate affair. The energetic Chico audience wasn’t shy about responding to Costello’s comments but still paid due respect to the humbled man of rock ‘n’ roll when the music demanded quiet.
Long-time fan and concert attendee Rob Reddemann reminisced about how Costello’s music made him feel back in 1982 when he first heard the album “My Aim is True.”
“It was so raw and authentic at the time,” he said. “It takes me back to those times — the world in front of you, full of energy and passion.”
After returning from the stage wings for two encores, Costello finally ended the two-hour concert with “Alison.” The melody of a lightly plucked guitar and the heartbreaking honesty of the lyrics sent chills through the audience.
“The history of rock ‘n’ roll resides in the discography of Elvis Costello,” said Dan DeWayne, Chico Performances director.