ANN ARBOR -- Elvis Costello didn't punch the clock for nearly as long as he planned Friday night, June 13, at the Michigan Theater.
Promoters are eyballing a late summer return for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-inducted singer and songwriter after a clearly ailing Costello cut his solo show short due to throat problems. "I don't think it's going to work," Costello told the crowd after his third song, having previously explained he had "a cold" -- which, in fact, necessitated a doctor's visit earlier in the day. "I don't want to cheat you...I was brought up to do a good job."
Costello then walked off and returned with Rick Franks from Live Nation Entertainment, which was promoting the show. Franks called Costello "a trouper" and advised fans to hang on to their tickets for a rescheduled date.
Costello then elected to play another nine songs, soldiering through his clearly deteriorating voice to dip into various periods of his career for big hits ("Watching the Detectives," "Alison") and less-celebrated tracks such as "Watch Your Step," "Poison Moon," "Radio Sweetheart" and "Ascension Day." The supportive crowd played along enthusiastically for the call--and-response portion of "Comes the Meantimes" from his collaboration with the roots, and Costello also offered a smooth cover of Nat King Cole's "Walkin' My Baby Back Home" and preceded "Ghost Train" with a warmly nostalgic story about a botched appearance as a youth with his father's band in Blackpool, England.
Costello advised fans to "get your money back," but his class and grace in the face of most any performer's nightmare likely made sure that anyone in the theater will hold on to their tickets until the return date is announced.