The Return of Elvis
August 17, 1996
First Appeared in The Music Box, Sept/Oct 1996, Volume 3, #6
Written by John Metzger
After a stunning performance with Steve Nieve in May, Elvis Costello returned to Chicago. This time he brought the Attractions for a sold-out engagement at the Rosemont Theater. Unfortunately, this show was a bit of a let-down after the powerful presentation Costello had pulled off earlier in the year. In fact, on a number of songs, the band seemed somewhat bored; On others, the group just didn't seem to take the tune anywhere.
Some of the better moments include a psychedelically twisted Clown Strike that drifted off into a jazz beat overlaid by a spaced-out jam. 13 Steps Lead Down also took off with a barrage of heavy guitar chords, towards the song's conclusion, as Costello locked intensely onto the beat supplied by bassist Bruce Thomas and drummer Pete Thomas.
The set list actually looks better on paper than it sounded in the theater. Though Costello worked in a number of more obscure songs, it didn't make-up for the ennui that surrounded The Beat, (What's So Funny ‘Bout) Peace Love and Understanding, Watching the Detectives, and even some of the newer material, such as You Bowed Down and Little Atoms.
Perhaps that's why Costello worked in fewer songs from his latest release All this Useless Beauty and, instead, threw in a number of rarer tunes such as Kid About It, Love Field, and the beautiful Brilliant Mistake. Costello and Nieve tried to liven up Pump It Up, as Nieve picked up an accordion instead of pounding out his normal synthesizer parts. This ended up in a cover of Larry Williams' Slow Down, which, of course, was popularized by The Beatles. Even Allison didn't fade off as it usually does. Instead it flowed into Rocking Horse Road. Unfortunately though, the song selection didn't quite save the show from mediocrity.
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