Elvis Costello and The Imposters played a high-energy set on May 13 at the Pearl, treating fans to dozens of highlights from his rich back catalog. Costello, looking younger and fitter than the last time I saw him in 2002, kicked off the show with “I Hope You’re Happy Now.” He spent the next two hours entertaining the audience with revved-up versions of “Radio Radio,” “Uncomplicated” and an especially funky take on “(I Don’t Want to Go to) Chelsea.”
Sadly, the Las Vegas show was not a proper stop on his current Revolver Tour, which explained the sore absence of his Spectacular Spinning Songbook: that famous wheel that determines his setlist—last seen in his 1986 tour … and the night before at his performance in L.A. But Costello did take a few requests (“Watching the Detectives,” “Oliver’s Army”) and he brought a handful of women onstage to select songs for the encore from an imitation wheel on his iPad. The women overstayed their welcome, distracting the audience with bad dancing and tacky outfits, while the band played a “rainbow” medley: “Green Shirt,” “(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes” and Prince’s “Purple Rain.” The advertised “Hostage to Fortune Go-Go Cage” was also missing, which is a shame because it would have been useful to corral the dancing women who kept touching Costello while he played.
Despite the few disappointments, a Costello show is still a Costello show, and it was wonderful overall.