Growing up, I would always hear my parents play music by The Who, The Kinks, The Beatles, and Tom Petty either in the house or in the car. They were stable bands my Dad would play; however, once in a while, my Mom would slip in an artist by the name of Elvis Costello. Songs like “Red Shoes” and “Everyday I Write The Book” would stick in my head, and as I got older, I would start buying and researching albums by this prolific musician. I would watch old live videos of his performances and be blown away at how captivating his stage presence was along with his band. Usually, as musicians get older, they tone down their stage presence, but not Elvis Costello. He still gives a memorable show, and his stop in Dallas on the 7-0-7 Tour proved just that.
Once on stage, Elvis would approach the crowd from each end to hype everyone up for the spectacular night. The band would jump straight into “A Town Called Riddle,” to which, right away, the crowd was moving. Right away everyone knew that Elvis & The Imposters were making this a rock ‘n’ roll night; there would be no slowing down. By the fourth song, the momentum was still strong with “Radio Radio” followed by “Lipstick Vogue,” to which you can’t deny that Elvis still has his punk attitude alive and well in him. It should also be mentioned that original Attractions’ drummer, Pete Thomas, and keyboardist, Steve Nieve, shined on these songs and spotlighted their amazing musicianship.
By the middle of the set, Elvis would show his comedic side by telling stories and his love for crate digging at record stores. His love for music goes from playing it to collecting it and according to Elvis when he is visiting cities he will try and visit record shops to find the most obscure 45. If Record Store Day is reading this, they need to make Elvis the next Record Store Day Ambassador. In this case, Elvis explained how he found a 45 by a band from Forth Worth, TX on Justice Records, so had the band learn the songs on the 45 called “My Baby Just Squeals (You Heal)” and “I Don’t Want Your Lyndon Johnson.” This again proves Elvis has a very funny comedic side, and it is wonderful to see him bring his not-so-serious side into the live show.
The highlight for me was when “Watching the Detectives” was played because the first live video I saw of Elvis Costello was this song live from Kohl, Germany. The energy in that video is still seen today in his live performance. The tone of the song leaned more into the reggae/ska feel, and Steve Nieve even plays melodica during the song. Hearing this song live alone is worth the price of admission. Afterward, Elvis would take over on piano duties for songs “Blood & Hot Sauce” and “Everybody’s Cryin’ Mercy” and let featured guest, and Texas native, Charlie Sexton take over on the guitar spotlight.
Before ending the night, Elvis would play out three songs on acoustic guitar, the third being “Clubland.” This version of “Clubland” was reworked to be heavily reggae/ska-influenced and towards the end of the song, Elvis would slip in “Ghost Town” lyrics from The Specials. Elvis produced The Specials’ debut album and with the recent passing of singer Terry Hall, this was a nice tribute to that influential band.
The last five songs of the night were like a grand finale at a fireworks show. From “Pump It Up” to “(I Don’t Want To Go To) Chelsea,” if you could imagine what it would’ve been like to see Elvis Costello in a small club, these songs would be perfect in that setting. Elvis & The Imposters ripped through these songs with such intensity that one couldn’t believe their eyes as to how good it sounded. The guitar he used for these songs, a Ciari the Ascender Folding Guitar, had a high distortion sound that really showed Elvis can still bring that punchy punk sound. Even though “Alison” isn’t a fast number, Elvis moved to the front of the stage to sing most of the song like it was a club setting. Lastly, “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding” closed out the night and left everyone with the highest of spirits.
Elvis Costello & The Imposters may be one of the best live bands still out there, and even though Elvis’ discography covers almost all music genres, this show kept it mostly to straight rock ‘n’ roll. Nothing played felt like a filler, and everyone on stage and in the crowd seemed to be having the time of their life. The 7-0-7 Tour runs until the beginning of February and then heads to Australia; it is imperative to try and catch one of these shows, because this tour is one not to miss.
Elvis Costello and The Imposters