By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
Born Declan Patrick MacManus, Elvis Costello performed mostly solo to a nearly full house at the Chevy Bricktown Events Center in Oklahoma City on October 10. The multi-genre musical raconteur told tales during the eclectic two hour “Detour” concert. With his lovable British accent and uniquely Elvis humor, he described his boyhood history, beginnings in the music biz and recent and future musical endeavors.
The tour follows the recent release of Costello’s autobiography ‘Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink.”
The stage was a show in itself, featuring a large vintage television, radio signage, a plethora of guitars, several vintage microphones, a grand piano he attributed to his well known singer/songwriter wife Diana Krall, and a chair where he serenaded us with several crowd favorites.
His repertoire included materials for a forthcoming musical adaptation of “A Face in the Crowd,” which he previewed on Broadway in June. He has written 17 songs for the score, including selections he performed, A Face In The Crowd, Vitajex, Blood And Hot Sauce, and Burn The Paper Down To Ash.
Stage screen visuals opened with Costello’s Monkey to Man music video, then flashed a montage of childhood photos, film noir movie posters, and other images that spun the details of his personal and musical history.
First songs up were (The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes and Poison Moon, from his debut album My Aim is True, followed by Accidents Will Happen, Ascension Day, Every Day I Write The Book and Church Underground.
He interspersed his multi-stylistic rocker/serious virtuoso music with relaxed, funny, and sometimes serious conversation.
He said starting out in the business he sent out tapes of his recordings, noting, “they were very courteous – they sent them back to me.”
Costello’s father, Ross McManus was a well known singer and trumpet player in the Joe Loss Orchestra. Elvis proclaimed that he’s a sentimental type reminiscing that his parents met across the counter in a record shop.
With that charming accent, he talked casually about his childhood and early days as a performer making the show feel like we were just hanging out with an old friend. He recalled performing with his father in Blackpool only to slyly unplug the power since he was “so badly out of tune.”
Elvis recalled working with the late Allen Toussaint, one of his heroes, on “Walking on Thin Ice” by Yoko Ono. Costello told how Toussaint rebuilt his entire career after Katrina and mentioned their collaboration on the Grammy nominated The River in Reverse.
Moving to the piano he said he “borrowed from his wife,” who was “home with the kids.” The couple has twin boys. Before performing the lovelorn tune Almost Blue, he said, “I heard my wife play this song at the Royal Albert Hall before we were married and I knew I was in a lot of trouble.” Other keyboard selections included Deep Dark Truthful Mirror, and Face in the Crowd.
Costello has performed numerous times at Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa and once at the Oklahoma City Zoo Amphitheater.
While on stage, he acknowledged two “friends” from Oklahoma, Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Inductee Wanda Jackson, who was in the audience, and jazz great Chet Baker, who performed with him in London. Black and white photos of an earlier Miss Jackson and Mr. Baker were part of the nostalgic program.
Mentioning that Baker soulfully covered Almost Blue, Elvis said he “regretted never taking up the trumpet.”
Moving to a comfy chair with a ukulele, ‘Walking My Baby Back Home was dedicated to Ms. Krall. While there he did bittersweet guitar renditions of Side By Side and Ghost Train.
Grabbing yet another guitar, Elvis cranked up the volume on Watching the Detectives, and although solo, he rocked the room like a full band. Moving to the edge of the stage he performed Alison, unplugged.
Next a delightful vintage video played of Elvis’ father (a mirror image) performing ‘If I had a Hammer’ a la Trini Lopez.
Returning to the stage Costello was joined by Georgia Lovell sister duo, Larkin Poe. With Rebecca on mandolin and Megan on lap steel, they provided sweet harmonies to Costello’s delivery of Nothing Clings Like Ivy, followed by Clown Strike, Burn the Paper Down to Ash (Rebecca singing lead), and Vitajex.
Using only guitars and a kick drum, Larkin Poe delivered strong blues-rock tunes with a riveting style of their own during the opening set. Glorious vocals and stellar performances were witnessed while accompanying Costello.
Elvis casually stated he was unofficially announcing his candidacy to an approving round of applause, before breaking into Blood and Hot Sauce.
The high-powered set finished off with That’s Not The Part Of Him You’re Leaving, Blame in on Cain. Pump It Up and I Want You.
Costello, now 62, closed the show with a rousing version of (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace Love and Understanding – sounding as good today as he did nearly forty years ago.