Show Review: Elvis Costello and The Imposters at The Criterion in Oklahoma City, OK

The one-and-only Elvis Costello took over Oklahoma City’s Criterion for a night full of witty banter and genre-bending music. With support from Charlie Sexton and Nick Lowe—both accompanied by Los Straitjackets—a sea of fans in Hawaiian shirts danced along to the oldies.

From the moment Costello took the stage, every eye in the venue was on him. Dressed in a bedazzled, cheetah-print blazer, he shone and sparkled each time he swayed along to the music like a disco ball. Though it was a seated concert, the crowd jumped to their feet as soon as Costello and his band the Imposters launched into “Farewell, OK.”

Interspersed between songs, Costello regaled the audience with stories throughout his career. From being mistaken for Elvis Presley (numerous times) to making jokes about rude songs, he was quite the storyteller. The story of the night a fan saw Costello, at age 17, going to a record store in his hometown of Liverpool. “I went to a record store because I wanted to buy a Pink Floyd record,” he says, comedic timing on point, “And then I came to my senses.” Instead, he bought a Bruce Springsteen record. Springsteen, Costello believes, “is a genius. He made Asbury Park seem like a beautiful place.” This anecdote served as the perfect introduction to “Radio Radio,” a song inspired by the music of Bruce Springsteen.

Much like his banter, every one of Costello’s songs tells a story—a feat not many artists attempt anymore. Then again, not many musicians attempt lounge numbers anymore either—much less with a ’50s-esque microphone, grand piano, and atmospheric lights. Equal parts triumphant and bittersweet, “The Comedians” was a highlight of the night, easily rivaling the best of Ray Orbison.

Another highlight of the evening was watching Costello verbally take down an unruly attendee who kept shouting out song requests—most of which weren’t even songs of Costello’s—during every single quiet moment between songs. “This isn’t a request spot,” he said, much to the delight (and relief) of everyone in attendance.

The rest of the evening saw his greatest hits such as “Alison,” “Waiting for the End of the World,” “Accidents Will Happen,” and even his cover of Brinsley Schwarz’s “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding.” With performances from various genres ranging from honky tonk, punk rock, new wave, and everything in between, Costello—ever the underdog in the eyes of the scene—proved that he is a musician unlike any other, making it seem like a walk in the park to seamlessly change music styles every other song.

Elvis Costello and The Imposters

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