CLEARWATER — Whether it was fronting the Attraction or the Imposters, it’s always been Elvis Costello’s show.
So it makes perfect sense that the 60-year-old veteran performer is at home performing solo on stage.
Costello’s “Detour” solo show hit Ruth Eckerd Hall on Monday night, and the New Wave singer turned crooner showed he still has the capacity to surprise an audience.
Concert-goers, mostly middle-aged professionals sprinkled with some younger fans, arrived to vintage Costello music videos playing on a 15-by-20 foot circa early 1970s fake TV.
After supporting act Larkin Poe, Costello strolled onstage dressed in a suit and white pork-pie hat.
The crowd was singing along by the end of his opening song (Angels wanna wear ) Red Shoes.
Onstage, stripped of any backing, Costello’s voice takes center stage. Warm and undimmed by the years, he can still wring emotion from every phrase as on a plaintive version of “Shipbuilding,” with Costello switching from guitar to piano.
And almost every song has a story behind it such as a late night taxi trip that spawned “Accidents will Happen.”
It’s been almost 40 years since the Grammy winner came to prominence in England, separating himself from the post-punk pack with his spiky mix of clever word play and accomplished song writing. That creativity shows no sign of abating.
Costello aficionados have another chance to catch Costello in the Bay area this June when he is scheduled to open for Steely Dan at Tampa’s MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre. Then he will trade the pared-down reflective interpretations of his back catalog for a more traditional show with his backing band The Imposters in tow.