Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Elvis Costello: his aim is true

As they get older, some rockers rest on their pasts and settle into a strictly oldies playlist at their concerts. Not Elvis Costello. Of course, Elvis has never settled into anything. I remember friends being baffled by his Almost Blue country LP back in the early '80s. Then there was his brush with Burt Bacharach in 1998, which turned off a few rock ' rollers but resulted in the beautiful Painted from Memory CD.

There are few recording artists I really stick with. But for almost 30 years, I've purchased everything Elvis Costello has recorded -- from his first album, 1977's My Aim is True, to his latest, The Delivery Man -- within days of its initial release. There've been weak moments, granted. But there's always been something unique or exciting going on in his work.

This new DVD, Club Date: Live in Memphis, presents Elvis Costello and the Imposters live last fall in front of a few hundred people at the sweaty little Hi Tone Cafe in Memphis. The show cooks. It's fundamental Costello. It's four guys (the Imposters are two of the original Attractions, keyboardist Steve Nieve and drummer Pete Thomas, plus bass player Davey Faragher) blasting through a solid mix of both old and new songs. They open with three classic Costello rockers ("Waiting for the End of the World," "Radio Radio," "Mystery Dance"), mix in some very new stuff, eventually share the stage with Emmylou Harris for three numbers (including Johnny Cash's "I Still Miss Someone"), then offer a boffo oldies close ("Alison," "Peace Love and Understanding," "Pump It Up") before calling it a night. Twenty songs, plus another four bonus songs, make up this DVD. It's a helluva show.

Club Date also includes almost an hour of documentary stuff with Elvis and Thomas bustling around Memphis, with a side trip to Mississippi. Great moments. And a great DVD.


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