The Daily Campus: Katie McWilliams: 22nd November 2013.
Costello walked on stage to explosive cheering and screaming from the audience and in a unique juxtaposition, humbly lowered his head and waved. He started the show with “Clubland” a track off his 1981 album “Trust.” The song provided a jaunty beginning to show that would only get better as time elapsed. Costello followed “Clubland” with “Green Shirt” a 1979 song of his that is easily recognized for its lyrics “and you tease and you flirt.”
Costello performed with five guitars, playing each song with one of three acoustic guitars, an electric guitar or one of two bass guitars. The diversity in his instrumental use reflected the diversity of his music as he performed works from the 70s up until the 2000s. However, not all of the songs he performed were cookie-cutter reproductions of his album recordings. “I Hope You’re Happy Now” was recorded with raunchy synthesizers and upbeat guitar parts on the original album, but in an interesting twist Costello pared down the energy, choosing to croon the lyrics over a soft acoustic harmony instead of bellowing over a raucous chorus of rock instruments.
Other songs, such as “Good Year for the Roses” were performed in a similar style as they were recorded and gave Costello the opportunity to display how his vocal capabilities haven’t changed a bit in his 40 years of recording and performing. His unusual voice is still recognizable despite the years of intense use.
In between his riveting performances, Costello regaled the audience with tales of his tours past.
In one anecdote Costello described his first visit to the United States and how he had expected the grandeur of culture shown on American television and was thoroughly impressed with the Howard Johnson Motel, where there was no “Night Porter,” the ubiquitous figure in British hotels who keep the keys to the liquor cabinet. Costello reminisced about travelling to Los Angeles and seeing the Hollywood Sign, Whisky a Go Go and how one hotel worker told him that he was staying in the same hotel that Sam Cooke died in.
“I stayed awake all night waiting for his voice to come out of the air conditioning,” said Costello.
As the show continued Costello played his hits such as “Every Day I Write the Book.”
“I wrote this song in 10 minutes,” Costello said. “And it was almost a hit. Can’t imagine what I would have done if it was, I couldn’t have been the bitter outsider anymore.”
Costello also played a cover of Maurice Chevalier’s “Walking My Baby Back Home,” in English and thrilled the audience when he performed two of his most famous songs “Watching the Detectives” and “Allison.”
“I am a huge Costello fan and I sat through the first half hour wondering if he’d play any of my favorites,” said Elaine Collins. “But he did and I was happy and it was worth the wait.” Costello closed the show with a double encore that had the audience on their feet for a standing ovation multiple times. In the first encore he performed “Josephine” and “I Want You.” In the second encore he pulled out his more edgy material for a bombastic finish performing “What’s So Funny (‘bout peace, love and understanding)” and “Pump it Up.”