Elvis Costello & The Imposters @ The Rooftop at Pier 17, New York, USA, 11th August, 2022 | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, October 3rd, 2023  

Elvis Costello & The Imposters, Nick Lowe & Los Straitjackets

Elvis Costello & The Imposters @ The Rooftop at Pier 17, New York, USA, 11th August, 2022,

Aug 15, 2022 Photography by Keeyahtay Lewis (on behalf of The Rooftop at Pier 17) Web Exclusive
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Far from a “regular” Elvis Costello & The Imposters gig, you can call this one Elvis Costello and his Cabinet of Curiosities, sort of similar in style and concept to the Cabinet of Curiosities shows that Wesley Stace (aka John Wesley Harding in his younger days) put on in Brooklyn and Philadelphia featuring himself, other musicians, and even comedians all entertaining the audience for an evening of variety.

First up, Nick Lowe and his longtime backing band Los Straitjackets took the stage as openers. With a formidable catalogue that goes back even further than Elvis’, it’s hard to feel fully satisfied with a short set full of crowd-pleasing hits if you are a big fan, but any opportunity to see Nick is one that should be taken advantage of. That said, utter classics like show opener “So It Goes,” the U.S. hit “Cruel to Be Kind” and set closer “When I Write the Book” sounded great in the beautiful outdoor setting overlooking an incredible view of the Manhattan bridge and the New York skyline, as did instrumental tracks like Los Straitjackets’ surfy-twang take on “My Heart Will Go On” (aka the theme from Titanic) and lesser known but just as essential Lowe deeper cuts like “Raging Eyes, “Half a Boy and Half a Man” and more recent compositions like “Tokyo Bay” and “Trombone.” If there is any criticism at all, it did feel a bit rushed as it was just an opening set with strict time parameters on an evening where everything had to end before 10 PM, so understandably, they had to give Elvis his time as the headliner.

Nick Lowe & Los Straitjackets
Nick Lowe & Los Straitjackets

After a short break, Elvis and the Imposters (with guest and birthday boy Charlie Sexton on guitar) came on and as usual, preceded to just take the stage by storm, opening with two cuts from 1979’s Armed Forces (“Accidents Will Happen” and “Green Shirt”) and running through an intriguing mix of ‘77-’79 era classics like “Watching the Detectives” (featuring a long vamp section explaining the song’s origins that I had never heard before in all my years of seeing him live), “You Belong to Me” (featuring guest and previous tour opener Nicole Atkins on backing vocals) and of course, set closer “Pump It Up” alongside deeper cuts like “Still Too Soon to Know” (featuring Atkins on lead vocals for one of the verses) from 1994’s excellent but somewhat overlooked Brutal Youth and “Either Side of the Same Town” from 2004’s also overlooked The Delivery Man. Of course, the evening also featured several cuts from the recently released The Boy Named If, the first rock and roll album that Elvis has made with The Imposters since 2008’s also overlooked (sense a pattern here?) but excellent Momofuku or perhaps if one is being more generous, 2018’s Look Now. Of those new songs, “Penelope Halfpenny” (which was also accompanied by a story explaining its origins in Elvis’ childhood), the beautiful ballad “What if I Can’t Give you Anything but Love?” and “My Most Beautiful Mistake” (again with Atkins on backing vocals) were the highlights.

Elvis Costello & The Imposters
Elvis Costello & The Imposters

All of this blended seamlessly with yet another surprise. The night before, Costello appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon with his old friend Allan Mayes, with whom he played with in the now reunited early ‘70s duo Rusty. They even released an EP earlier this year that includes an early version of future Elvis B-side “Ghost Train” entitled “Maureen and Sam.”

One of the songs they was performed regularly in 1972 was Nick Lowe’s “Surrender to the Rhythm’’ (written and recorded when Lowe was in the band Brinsley Schwarz) and on this evening, Elvis and the Imposters not only came out to it initially, but performed it later on with Mayes in tow, 50 years later! To drive the point home further, they also performed several other Rusty-era tunes, namely “I’m Ahead If I Can Quit While I’m Behind’’ and of course, Lowe’s “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding,” a perennial favorite that Elvis seemingly performs at every show, but enhanced on this evening by Lowe’s presence on guitar. What an epic evening and a great night to be a fan!

Elvis Costello
Elvis Costello


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