Freedom Hill, Sterling Heights, MI – Tuesday July 15th)
The moment Declan McManus (aka Elvis Costello) took to the stage tonight, the sold-out crowd rose to their feet and barely left them for a full two hours and three minutes! ’Waiting For The End of the World,’ and ’Radio, Radio’ are the first out of the bag, with each song thereon (at least for a considerable amount of time) blended into each other like one long Elvis C. megamix! After a loud ”One, Two, Three, Four” chime in, ’Accidents Will Happen,’ and ’You Belong To Me’ follow and as the last chord of the song still reverberates, a change of guitar ensues and suddenly we’re off into ’I Hope You’re Happy Now,’ ‘Tear off Your Own Head (It's a Doll Revolution),’ ‘Everyday I Write The Book’ (fast version) and ’Clubland’ adorn the night sky.
Breaking for the first time, both musically and vocally, Elvis asks the crowd: ”Doing well, are we?”, before carrying on with an instrumental jam. Throughout all of this, Elvis – dressed entirely in black (jacket, shirt, pants, shoes and even socks!) – seems very happy, if not a little carried away by his own music! With each three minute song telling a story unlike none that have gone before, Elvis – together with the always inspiring Stevie Nieve on keys – is a musical genius of the highest order!
But, it’s when the ultra cool hit ’Alison’ comes wafting across the air that the crowd really get in the groove. Especially when Elvis breaks off into both ’Tracks Of My Tears’ and ’Tears Of A Clown’ before finishing the song in rousing style. Taking a rose handed to him by a pretty lady, he asks people with a wave of his guitar to get up, come closer and dance and solidifies that theory with a rock-organ performance of ’Pump It Up’ - which has to be said did not fit nicely into the new rhythm version at all! During the song Elvis even sounds a little out of breath, off sync and just unhappy with his backing band! Maybe he was all three after all at that point!
Talking of things that didn’t sit well with the audience, it’s around now that he introduces the band and then with the guitars warming up for ’Same Town’ shouts out ”Thank you very much. Goodnight”! Just under 20 songs have been sung and he’s supposedly off after just 50 minutes! But, Elvis – as it turns out – is a sly one and he comes back on to hearty applause with yet another different guitar to perform ’I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down’, ‘Uncomplicated,’ ‘Watching The Detectives’ (slow version which turns into a jam session), Jeff Beck’s ’Hi Ho Silver Lining’ and after another change of weapon, ’Deep, Dark, Truthful Mirror’. Breaking into a chorus or two of ’Really Got A Hold On Me’, he then slips comfortably into ’Deep, Dark, Truthful Mirror’ before stepping back to take a well-deserved bout of applause.
Faking yet another last-song encore, he comes back for ’Man Out Of Time,’ ‘Sweet Dreams Of You’ and after introducing the band once more, a guitar-driven ’45’. Elvis hasn’t changed a bit in looks, and while his voice may have lost it’s once trademark youthful snarl, his vocals are quite remarkably still poignant and stunning. ’Honey, Are You Straight or Are You Blind?’ is next up followed quickly by ’(I Don’t Want To Go To) Chelsea’ and as he beckons more people to join him up front, ’This Year’s Girl’ is brought to the fore. But, it’s as he finishes the last song of this two hour evening – the original version (thankfully) of ’(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding’ complete with guitar left whining in front of the speaker as Elvis heads off for good is a fitting end to a wonderful nights entertainment.
Review and Photos by Russell A. Trunk