Elvis Costello and the Imposters,
El Rey, 5/28
By Randall Roberts
Photos by Timothy Norris
Elvis Costello performed a jumbo show at the Hollywood Bowl with the Police earlier on Wednesday night, but apparently he was itching for more, because he and his Imposters headed up La Brea to the El Rey on Wilshire for a late, late show.
Looking solid and well-fed, the Other King, the man who has written some of western culture's bitterest love songs, wore all black, his fully-receded hairline giving way to a shock of erect black hair pointing up to the heavens.
Costello and the Imposters moved from old to new, but he leaned toward his early 1980s output, which was a wonderful surprise: “I Hope You're Happy Now,” “Everyday I Write the Book,” “King of America,” “New Lace Sleeves,” and, joy of joys, the greatest sordid hotel love song ever written, “Motel Matches.”
Longtime drummer Pete Thomas was having a blast with Costello, singing along with his boss, going tribal, popping the snare four times fast over and over again during the great version of “Green Shirt.”
Touring in support of his new album Momofuko, Costello tore through some new ones, too, which were sharp and bitter Costello archetypes. Costello reappeared for a super long encore, and was joined by Jonathan Rice and Jonathan Wilson on guitars, and Father Dave on pedal steel.
The highlight? Elvis doing Elvis' “Mystery Train.” Jenny Lewis was a rumored guest, but she couldn't make it. The night ended at around two, when Costello and the crowd sang “Happy Birthday” to Rice, whose birthday was Tuesday.