Not many trips take a complete left from the itinerary, which has a tone that started with a few days left in the trip before everyone goes home. It’s time to go to the beach. Yet that’s what happened with the last six shows of Elvis Costello & the Imposters’ “We’re Going on Summer Holiday Tour,” where no one who saw the first 17 shows of the tour would have realized the situation. happened in the last half of the twelfth. It was all due to a change in the horn section of the trio, which the ads correctly promised would appear in the coda tour. What was unexpected was how Costello completely changed the entire show to build around the new brass arrangement, discarding some of the established elements and adding new ones to show what different flavors could be realized with the many o’ horns.
Thanks to this huge swing, Costello’s sold-out show on Wednesday at the Beacon Theater in New York City (the first of two nights there) was one of the most challenging and fun we’ve seen him perform with the Imposters since he formed the band. after Imposters a few decades ago, it is a temporarily extended line that can be described as Imposters +. It was a dream show, in many ways, with the singer announcing at the beginning that everyone should settle down quickly because they don’t have to do a one-of-a-kind workout. (Six of a kind? Close enough.) If the constant presence of tenor sax, trumpet and trombone doesn’t get you hooked, maybe you will. But it was necessary to sacrifice a little of the rock ‘n’ roll fire of the early parts of the tour – not all, a little – in favor of a slow ascent that made deep soul and jazz instruments its main features. hairpin bends.
Only one of the 23 songs played during the two-hour show was 15 minutes long that did not use a trumpet section. That one, which was played almost at the end of the night, seems to have been called by Costello as a sound. It was “Bloody and Hot Soup,” a song from his ongoing “A Face in the Crowd” that he’s been performing almost every night on his tour in 2023, as a happening political musician. waking up enough to support “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding.” (The sendup did not get a reprise on night 2.) The remaining 22 all found room for three interlopers in the left row keyboardist Steve Nieve – trumpet and arranger Michael Leonhart, saxophonist Donny McCaslin and trombonist Ray Mason.
Sometimes they add little extras to songs that sound like they should have horns, or at some point in the past did. (Costello wrote and performed the horn section around 1983’s “Punch the Clock,” then brought the idea back to his brief collaboration in the late 2000s and early 2010s with Allen Toussaint and the Roots.) Several numbers from the vintage-R&B-inspired “Be Happy!! ” – “Possession” and a medley of “You Can’t Stand ‘Cause You’re Falling” verse that goes into “Ultimate Loyalty” – gave an indication of how some 1980s music seemed to have it. meaning copper. But then it was reintroduced with a few old songs that a fan might not have predicted, such as, the opening number, “Pills and Soap.” The song was always short on cold and clinical parts in Costello’s original recording more than 40 years ago, but, without losing its scary side, it was definitely heated up in Leonhart’s opening arrangement; if you can change this color to the original in your group, after hearing it now, you probably will.
Some of the contributions of this section to Costello staples were a little closer to the subliminal side, especially when things started to sound, of “(I don’t want to go) Chelsea” and “Watching the Investigators,” or when the players could. take five and appear to repeat again and again at the very end of the number, as he did at the end of Hollywood High, the Costello-and-Nieve duo version of “Accidents Will Happen.” (I know, I knowthe horns said in unison, if the reeds could suffer.) The three characters presented brought a deep, dark, true mirror to the things that can be considered in the middle of the season, such as “The Comedian” and “Poisoned Rose,” the latter now. it was completely transformed into a jazz song that always threatened to be on the “King of America.”
And in two special cases, the additional players allowed the music to be heard as it was written, in a way that had never been done before. “Building a Train” led to Leonhart’s best rebirth with original trumpeter Chet Baker, while Burt Bacharach seemed resurrected as Costello’s band launched into “Toledo,” from “Painted From Memory.” “You’ll hear his voice” as the song begins, Costello promises, and the trio manages to make good on that promise by adding Bacharachian flugelhorn and flute to the Burt-signature riff.
But one of the real joys of the show, especially for die-hard fans, was in the “hidden” 21st century elements that Costello chose to feature in his show because he had a strong idea of what horns could do with it. It also includes some from the first-released pandemic-era song that brought Leonhart into the fold on a larger scale, 2021’s “Hey Clockface,” which contributed heavily to “We’re All Afraid Now” and “Here’s the Newspaper” on the set. His brief Roots stint (as in Questlove) was celebrated with “Cinco Minutos Con Vos.” And what is perhaps one of the previously unremarkable numbers from the Grammy-winning “Look Now” album, “Mr. and Mrs. Hush,” has a new arrangement that has turned into a real keeper. The song is now like “Get Happy !!” -the way he keeps hitting, but it’s like “Pump It Up,” until it sounds like he’s going to start a medley every minute.
The highlight of the show? Every time the former EC producer Nick Lowe gets on the mic to share with the group “Peace, Love and Understanding,” as he has done from time to time on the last two tours and will do again on Wednesday, you would be hard-pressed to say that it is not, because of the emotions.
But in this first Beacon show, there was no competition for this derby. It was “Someone Takes Out the Word,” from 2003’s “North,” Costello’s most understated, and — strangely enough — sad and romantic song, all at once. For a good portion of this strange, haunting song, the vocals were removed, as the singing moved to a more instrumental section where Leonhart and Mason kept the beat low as McCaslin went on, down and around. and strange words that kept going down around the brain of the listener could not understand. McCaslin is known for his work on David Bowie’s “Blackstar” album, so this is a guy who knows how to make Dark Sax. What he did on “Someone Take Out the Voice” on this hot July night in the Upper West Side is the tenor sax solo I’ve heard someone do on a “rock” song since Chris Potter was released. Steely Dan’s “West of Hollywood” – but this sounded disappointing and confusing.
Focusing on the contributions of the horns does not leave the opportunity to admire the success of the Imposters, or Costello himself, who seemed to have several moments of sound in the first few numbers and then quickly. steeped in the universal seether/belter his audience knows and loves. There was another guest on the side of the horn, which could be the addition of Charlie Sexton, so reliable part of Costello’s shows in 2022-2023 that it seems inevitable that he will be swallowed well if he does not have any other wanderings. He’s got the best guitar playing right now, with Elvis doing psychedelic – or psychotic – solos and Sexton doing bluesier stuff that takes the show to roadhouse, like the Texas rocker did on new-ish. , an unreleased number that recently became a staple of Costello’s shows, “Like Licorice on Your Tongue.” One thing missing from this show that has been a staple of Costello’s nights for the past year and a half (including when we did this tour at LA’s Greek less than a month ago) is “What If I Can’t Give You Anything But You Love It,” which often features the Elvis twins and Charlie. It missed, but it would have been a bit noisy and a bit of a distraction on a well-planned part of the tour.
The “Holiday Holiday” tour arrived Friday night in Philadelphia at the Met, and the horn cases have settled down — as have the drum cases, for that matter — as Costello and Nieve look to reunite for another tour as a duo. fall, perhaps spreading to America later. But as the singer and pianist head to Paris, fans lucky enough to catch the last six days can say to themselves: We’ll always have Bridgeport, Boston, Syracuse, Philly, Baltimore and Beacon.
Beacon Theater Schedule, July 12, 2023:
- Tablets and Soap
- Newspaper Pane
- Like Licorice on Your Tongue
- Alison/ I’m Making You Love Me
- Almost Blue
- We’re All Scared Now
- Lock Him Down
- I Do (Zula’s Song)
- The Comedian
- Someone Removed the Word
- I Can’t Stand ‘Cause I’m Falling (episode)
- High Fidelity
- Mr. & Mrs. Hush
- Five minutes with you
- Looking for Detectives
- (I Don’t Want To Go) Chelsea
- Accidents Will Happen
- Blood & Hot Sauce
- A killer rose
- (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding (by Nick Lowe)