For 5 nights in October of 1986, Elvis Costello performed at the Broadway Theatre in New York City, providing what was for me, 5 of the most memorable concerts I have ever seen in my life. There were two nights with The Attractions, two with The Confederates, a band that consisted of such luminaries as James Burton, Jerry Scheff and Jim Keltner, and a night that was dubbed "The Spectacular Spinning Songbook," where the stage was set up like a game show, and contestants from the audience would have the opportunity to spin a big wheel of chance, hoping to hear El and the boys, play the song that was spun.
It was a spectacle alright, and as much fun as it was to hear Costello sing such oddities from the wheel such as Prince's "Pop Life" and the Psychedelic Furs' "Pretty In Pink," it was my least favorite night of the 5. My thoughts then, were the same now, as I try to begin a review of last night's concert at the Beacon Theatre. As the minutes ticked away, while the contestants were brought to the stage, briefly interviewed before giving the wheel a spin, and then escorted off, I could have been listening to Elvis and the band playing 2-3 more songs instead.
That said, last night's performance, the second of a three night stand, was still one of the most exciting shows I've seen in a long time, mostly because The Imposters are simply one of the best rock and roll bands out there, anchored by original Atttraction drummer Pete Thomas, whose gray hair is the only thing different about the man I first saw tear it up behind the kit in 1978. 35 years later, and Thomas is still a monster behind that kit, driving such classics as "Radio Radio," "Lipstick Vogue" and "Watching The Detectives" into the hemisphere.
Here's your set list from last night:
I Hope You’re Happy Now
Heart Of The City
Detectives vs Hoover Factory – SPIN 1
Detectives – UNANIMOUS DECISION
(Here, by applause, was a vote for one or the other. As good as "Detectives" was, I was hoping to hear the rarely played "Hoover Factory." But I guess I couldn't expect that kind of reaction from an audience who was shouting out "Alison" requests from the second song in.)
“Time” Jackpot – SPIN 2
Clowntime Is Over
Man Out Of Time
Out Of Time
(There is also a "Girl" jackpot on the wheel where we could have heard "Girl" by The Beatles, "Party Girl," "Sulky Girl" and "This Year's Girl," or the "I Can Sing A Rainbow" jackpot that consists of "Red Shoes," Green Shirt," "Blue Chair" and "Purple Rain." Pretty cool, I think.)
Oliver's Army – SPIN 3
A Slow Drag With Josephine
American Without Tears - duet with Ronan MacManus with The Biblecode Sundays
Little Palaces/Set Of Traditional Fiddle & Accordion Tunes with The Biblecode Sundays
(Did you know Elvis had a brother? I didn't. He looks about 10 years younger, but there is a resemblence both in looks and sound, and this little set with The Biblecode Sundays was one of the highlights.)
So Like Candy/Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood
All Grown Up
Lipstick Vogue – duet with Alex Turner of The Arctic Monkeys
Waiting For The End Of The World
I Want You
Pump It Up
Peace, Love And Understanding
Costello's voice was strong, and on songs like the "So Like Candy/Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" couplet and the king of all bad break-up songs "I Want You," he sounded as he did 25 years ago, truly excited about delivering the goods.
At one point, Tennessee Thomas, the daughter of drummer Pete Thomas, came out and sat behind her dad on a second kit. For four songs, "Turpentine," "Uncomplicated" and then later, "Pump It Up" and "Peace, Love & Understanding," she shadowed her father, for what was one of the most exhilarating performances of the night.
I've been collecting the stray tracks and one-off covers since the "Revolver" tour began earlier this month, hoping to bring you a nice compilation of the tour. It should be noted that last night's performance of "Pump It Up" was your standard, concert-ending reading. But, EC and the Imposters have been doing a very hip version in 6/8, which you can check out below.
PUMP IT UP/BUSTED
Back in '86, tickets were $25, and I made sure I was there every night. I barely made it to last night's show, though $100, is still a bargain compared to Steely Fucking Dan charging $250 to hear "Two Against Nature" and "Everything Must Go" in their entirety. And now that I've witnessed the 2011 version of the "Spinning Songbook," I wish I had the dough to have gone all three nights.