Saturday, May 28, 2011

Elvis Costello and the Imposters at the Wiltern May 11, 2011

I missed it 25 years ago and was not about to miss it again. Sure, this is just for fun. It isn’t going to be a great Elvis show. And the pacing... How was one of the best at pacing shows going to pace a show he had no complete control of? Now, if you have no idea what I’m talking about, let me back up a bit. 25 years ago, Elvis toured with his Song Wheel. On the huge wheel were 40 or so songs that audience members were brought up on stage to spin. So, the show was guaranteed to be a unique experience every night. What I didn’t realize was that Elvis had plans to do a bit of cheating.

There was no opening act on this night. As we sat down at our seats we could see the big wheel on one side of the stage and a portable bar with stools and go-go dancer cage on the other. The band came out rockin’, opening with “I Hope You’re Happy Now”, “Tear Off Your Own Head”, “Mystery Dance” and “Radio Radio”. Elvis then put on his top hat (literally) and the fun began. Audience members spun the wheel and we heard songs like, “Every Day I Write the Book” and “Brilliant Mistake”. There was a go-go dancer on some of the songs and the audience members got a drink and were able to sit at the bar for a song or two. But, there was an opening for Elvis. Whenever someone hit one of the purple spots on the wheel, it was a preplanned set for Elvis, the longest of which was a “Time” set in which he performed: “Clowntime is over”, “Strict Time”, “Next Time ‘Round”, “Out of Time” (the old Rolling Stones classic) and “Man Out of Time”. Sometimes he would ask contestants what they wanted to hear and a couple of them said, “I Want You”. After the second time, Elvis re-spun the wheel to make it happen. It was, as always, one of the highlights of the night; so angry and obsessive. In concert it becomes so dark and dirty. You feel like you need a shower when he is done.

As it turned out, Elvis was able to somewhat control the pacing with the extended sets. Two and a half hours in and on his fourth encore, Elvis and the band finished up with Nick Lowe’s “Peace Love and Understanding”. It was a fun evening with unique covers, Elvis clowning around and everyone pretty much having a grand old time. For a peak at the set list, you can go here:

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