Elvis Costello

The Wiltern


Better than…a show with a standard set list

For the past year, Elvis Costello has been challenging himself and fans with his Spectacular Spinning Songbook Tour. With his extensive catalog that includes over 30 studio albums, multiple live albums and appearances on many tribute albums, the London native has more than enough material to put to the test both his diehard fans and talented backing band, The Imposters.

Costello brings a wheel — think Wheel of Fortune — which features the names of everything from classics to covers. The singer will pluck a lucky fan from the audience to spin the wheel and whichever song the arrow ends up on, that's the one that will be played.

The wheel; Credit: Daniel Kohn

The wheel; Credit: Daniel Kohn

After getting the crowd going with “Pump It Up” and a few other tunes, Costello turned The Wiltern into his own bizarre fun house, casually inviting fans on-stage to spin the wheel, which determined the play-as-you-go set list.

The show's concept kept the audience on their toes, despite a number of them having seen this act at the same venue only a year earlier. Highlights from the wheel included covers of Chuck Berry's “No Particular Place To Go,” the Nina Simone/Animals' track “Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood,” and originals like “Accidents Will Happen” and “Riot Act.”

Every night the wheel has a different mix of songs. Fans who spun it could kick back with either an adult beverage in the seated area on-stage, or could dance in a small cage on the far side. Many of the ladies who were plucked from the sold-out crowd did the latter.

Whenever the wheel stopped on a song, Costello and his band were ready to roll. It was almost as if they were a band playing at a local pub and taking requests. During the last spin, a lady named Chelsea, went up on-stage and Costello gave her a look like he knew what song the wheel was going to land. It hit “(I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea to the audience's approval.

Set closer “(What's So Funny 'bout) Peace, Love and Understanding” included an appearance by Costello's wife and musician Diana Krall. The thunderous version of the song had fans jumping up and down in their seats. Whoever wasn't doing that was dancing in the packed Wiltern aisles.

Critical Bias: More groups should have the balls to challenge themselves in the way Costello did. It was fun and kept the audience involved throughout the night. Then again, most groups don't have 30 albums to cull material from.

The Crowd: OG hipsters, much like the singer himself.

Follow us on Twitter @LAWeeklyMusic, and like us at LAWeeklyMusic.

LA Weekly