A majority of Elvis Costello’s recent stop in Toronto was dedicated to his 1982 album Imperial Bedroom but it’s also the fortieth anniversary of his debut My Aim Is True so he peppered his set with songs from that as well.
Taking to the stage to an instrumental that sounded like it could have been lifted from a James Bond movie, Costello and his bandmates received a standing ovation from the sizable crowd. Costello kept up an easygoing banter that comes as part of being a veteran performer, recounting stories of how the design for Imperial Bedrooms’ cover came about to joking about making a run for president, noting that he couldn’t but his twin sons with Canadian singer Diana Krall could.
‘Accidents Will Happen’ received a positive reaction as did “deep cuts” such as ‘Tears Before Bedtime’ and ‘Shabby Doll’. He recounted how ‘Watching the Detectives’ was inspired by watching detective shows that were popular at the time. Throughout out the evening, Costello played a number of impressive guitar solos as well.
Showing he’s a truly diverse musician, he played one of the songs he collaborated with Burt Bacharach on, ‘This House Is Empty Now’. He wrapped up the first set with ‘Pidgin English’.
When he emerged with his back-up singers, he played a stripped-down version of ‘My Aim is True’. He played a couple songs with just pianist/keyboard player Steve Nieve and recounted a story of making Imperial Bedroom and running into other musicians who were making records in the studio.
The band returned for the final run of songs that included the jazzy ‘Kid About It’ and ‘Every Day I Write the Book’ before wrapping up things up with ‘(What’s so Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding’ and ‘Pump It Up’. The latter had everyone in the venue on their feet and singing along.