Elvis Costello & the Imposters in Boston – July 6, 2023

The iconic songwriter Elvis Costello (& the Imposters) came to MGM Music Hall at Fenway on the We’re All Going on a Summer Holiday tour, with a setlist spanning his five decades of music. Kicking the night off were Nick Lowe and Los Straitjackets.

Nick Lowe and Los Straitjackets

Nick Lowe is a British songwriter and producer, who made a career producing records for numerous artists, while also having a couple hits of his own. As a songwriter of Costello’s “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding,” and the producer of his first album, My Aim is True, among many albums, his connection with Elvis Costello stretches back for decades. Nick has been in a bit of a “second act,” performing with Los Straitjackets, an instrumental surf rock band known for wearing Mexican wrestling masks on stage.

Lowe’s voice blends perfectly with the vintage sound of Los Straitjackets. Nick sang about a half dozen songs, before letting Los Straitjackets play a couple of instrumental songs of their own. Nick returned for a few more songs, including closing with his hits “Cruel to be Kind” and “I Knew the Bride (When She Used to Rock ‘n’ Roll).”

Elvis Costello and the Imposters

Since releasing My Aim is True back in 1977, Elvis Costello hasn’t slowed down, with more than two dozen albums to his name. Taking to the stage with “Pills and Soap,” Costello came out with as cool a vibe as he ever had. Perhaps the performance was a little more subdued than forty years ago, but it was great nonetheless. Costello told many stories in between songs. Between the stories, and often times sitting down while singing, it often had the feel of a performer in a jazz lounge or a hip coffee shop… that just happened to have 5,000 people in it.

The band Costello is currently touring with, The Imposters, features a horn section, providing a full sound to the songs. The band frequently changes up their setlist, so there was no knowing what would come next. Hits like “Radio Radio,” “Watching the Detectives,” and “Allison” were certainly highlights in the set. On the whole, his setlist skewed a bit more obscure, which diehard fans certainly loved. Notably absent from the show, for me, was “Every Day I Write the Book.” A nice surprise, meanwhile, was “(I Don’t want to Go to) Chelsea,” a song I haven’t heard in at least 25 years, but came rushing back as soon as he started playing it.

The two and a half hour show, with twenty three songs, was captivating from open to close. Not many performers have a status of legend like Costello, but his performance certainly showed that he’s earned it.

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