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Concert Reviews:
Elvis Costello and his songs, from Now and Then, shine at the Fillmore
 

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

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DETROIT -- With temperatures in the 20s and dusts of snow still on the grass outside, Elvis Costello gleefully celebrated "the gathering gloom in the last days of summer" on Tuesday night, Nov. 13, at the Fillmore Detroit.



Nevertheless, the British rock veteran and his band, the Imposters, quickly heated things up at the Fillmore, roaring through a generous 26-song, two-hour and 20-minute show made all the more potent by Costello's audible struggle with a virus that that was wreaking a degree of havoc on his voice. Nevertheless he soldiered through with the help of his exceptional bandmates and a set list of material strong enough to still shine no matter how it was being sung. And Costello, sporting a dark military-style suit and tinted glasses, delivered when he had to -- particularly nailing an emotive, show-stopping rendition of his 1989 torch piece "Deep Dark Truthful Mirror."



Costello and company's latest trek is dubbed the Look Now and Then...Tour '18, nodding to his excellent new album, "Look Now." That certainly got its due on Tuesday, with eight songs that sat comfortably amidst the "Then" selections on the setlist and the sublimely tight Imposters bolstered by a pair of backing vocalists. Performances of tracks such as "Burnt Sugar is So Bitter, ""Dishonor the Stars," "Suspect My Tears," "Mr. and Mrs. Hush" and the album's three Burt Bacharach collaborations -- "Don't Look Now," "Photographs Can Lie" and "He's Given Me Things" -- were certainly convincing enough to push anybody who didn't have the album already to order it, perhaps on the spot.





Costello's troll through his past, meanwhile, was even more galvanizing as he and the band dipped deep into his 40-plus year catalog, well beyond the hits ("Alison," "Watching the Detectives," "Everyday I Write the Book") for gems such as "This Year's Girl," "Honey, Are You Straight or Are You Blind?," "Green Shirt," an aching "Tears Before Bedtime," "Moods For Moderns" and "High Fidelity." Costello tossed a bit of Bacharach's "The Look of Love" into "Photographs Can Lie" and played part of 2010's "Jimmie Standing in the Rain" to introduce the new "Under Lime."



And, as usual, he indulged his love for Motown, weaving a bit of the Temptations/Supremes hit "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" into "Alison" and the Miracles' "You've Really Got a Hold On Me" into the raucous show-closer "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?"



It was another demonstration of the veracity, and variety, that's fueled Costello, who recently survived a cancer scare, throughout his career. Tuesday's show again proved that the guys is more than, as the album title said, this year's model but rather a pop music icon whose Now is every bit as exciting as his Then.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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