Disappointing Elvis Costello Show

Not sure what to make of Elvis Costello’s “Look Now” tour (last night at the Masonic). His music has occupied a pretty big place in my life, mostly in his early years but on and off in decades since — Elvis is a stalwart. Of course every artist should be able to re-interpret their own music however they like, but there were a lot of moments last night when I felt like he was losing the plot in his own tracks. Butchering his own work, to be blunt. And he is faltering – missing a lot of vocal notes, playing some seriously bad guitar, and completely embarrassed himself at the piano for a while, sitting down without any apparent intent and noodling out scratch – you could feel the audience feeling embarrassed for him, and it was awkward. The Imposters felt like studio musicians, and all the real energy was coming from his backup singers. There were moments of greatness, and his voice is still both tender and punchy (when it’s not cracking). He says his recent prostate cancer surgery was blown out of proportion and that he’s fine. I’m so glad for that, but also thinking it might be time to retire gracefully. Hate to think that, but … hmm. Listening to his new album now, after the fact, and it’s heaps better than the performance was. Maybe it was just an off night? I’ve loved other performances of his over the years.

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