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CONCERT REVIEW: More misses than hits for Elvis Costello & The Imposters in Vancouver

At the QE the band should have pumped it up, as the landmark song suggests
Elvis Costello pictured on his website,

Elvis Costello is a rock music legend, but his tour-kickoff concert in Vancouver was anything but legendary.

Sketchy sound, off-note vocals, an under-rehearsed band and questionable song choices cooled a warm night at Queen Elizabeth Theatre on Wednesday, June 7.

It was the first date of many on a “We’re All Going On A Summer Holiday” tour by Costello & The Imposters, whose members include Charlie Sexton on guitar and some of the frontman’s longtime bandmates (Steve Nieve on keys, Pete Thomas on drums, Davey Faragher on bass).

Old pal Nick Lowe opened the show backed by Los Straightjackets, the Nashville surf-rock band whose players wear Mexican wrestling masks on stage.

That was fun.

The crowd buzzed when Costello walked to the stage, introduced the band and launched into a lounge-y version of “Green Shirt,” a cut from 1979’s Armed Forces album. The song was first of 18 performed Wednesday (detailed on

Costello tells great stories, like the time he wrote “Radio Radio” in an attempt to copy Bruce Springsteen’s style.

The New Wave-era classic “Girls Talk” was rearranged, as were a few other oldies. Kudos for taking some risks and not just repeating past glories.

Lowe returned to the stage for encore renditions of “Indoor Fireworks” and “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding,” which closed the show.

Youtuber “dobwat” posted decent video of “Indoor Fireworks,” as seen below.

Ballads were many — too many. I would have loved to hear the band pump it up, as the landmark song suggests.

Overall it was clear that Costello and band were trying to find a groove on the first night of a concert tour. Some slack should be cut, but they just didn’t gel often (or well) enough.

Bet on better shows as the Costello tour stretches into July in North America (Vancouver is the only Canadian date listed on, followed by late-summer and fall concerts in Europe.

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Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news stories for the Surrey Now-Leader, where I've worked for more than half of my 30-plus years in the newspaper business.
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