The legendary rocker and his band, The Imposters, unleashed music from Costello’s latest album plus choice gems from his hefty catalog at a sold-out Meijer Gardens. The review and photo gallery at Local Spins.
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The enduring brilliance of Elvis Costello’s remarkable songwriting extends well beyond clever gems such as “Accidents Will Happen,” “Watching the Detectives,” “Green Shirt” and “Alison” — all of which he performed Thursday night with The Imposters as part of his sold-out U.S. tour kickoff at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park.
There’s “The Death of Magic Thinking” from his latest studio album, “The Boy Named If,” with the confessional lines, “I can’t stand on my head, I can’t let go my tears, I can’t control my anger, I can’t admit my fears.”
Or take 2021’s “Magnificent Hurt” with the lyrics, “The pain that I felt let me know I’m alive, and I opened my heart to the way you make me feel, magnificent hurt.”
Of course, the singer’s rip-smart cohorts — keyboardist Steve Nieve, drummer Pete Thomas and bassist Davey Faragher — pulled these off on Thursday with passionate aplomb, even getting a vocal boost from opening act Nicole Atkins, who joined in on “My Most Beautiful Mistake,” “Still Too Soon to Know,” “I’ll Wear It Proudly” and “You Belong To Me.”
For an hour and 45 minutes, Costello expertly weaved his way through a career’s worth of material, touching on various highlights, ranging from “Just About Glad” from 1994’s “Brutal Youth” to “Hetty O’Hara Confidential” from 2020’s “Hey Clockface,” along with selections from his newest project.
Even at 67, Costello oozes an insurgent sort of youthful vibe with his music, all while maintaining an affable, waggish demeanor that endears him to his audience (telling tales like playing with his first band at Catholic girls’ schools where “they paid us precisely nothing”), and while delivering his smart lyrics in that distinctive, spiky voice.
Naturally, nothing endeared him to fans more than unleashing some of his oldest and most revered gems, including an extended rendition of “Watching the Detectives” that featured a captivating spoken-word segment and Nieve’s typically splendid keyboard work.
Singer-songwriter and New Jersey native Nicole Atkins opened Thursday’s show with a fetching Americana vibe that morphed into a rock-propelled salvo, before later joining Costello and The Imposters for several mid-set songs.
(Atkins’ fetching set aside, some fans likely would be disappointed to know that longtime Costello associate and rock icon Nick Lowe, along with surf-rock’s Los Straitjackets, are opening tonight’s show in Evanston, Ill., along with most stops on the U.S. tour, but were not part of Thursday’s lineup in Grand Rapids.)
To wrap things up, Costello hit all the right nostalgic notes and brought the capacity crowd to its feet with a four-song treat: “Pump It Up,” “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding,” “Radio Radio” and “Alison.”
Thursday’s show may have boasted the highest ticket price of the 2022 Meijer Gardens series, but even without Nick Lowe on the bill, it rolled out as a real bargain when factoring in the priceless words and inventive musical twists from a fabled artist.
PHOTO GALLERY: Elvis Costello & The Imposters, Nicole Atkins at Meijer Gardens
Photos by Jamie Geysbeek
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