Reviewed May 12, 1994.
Elvis Costello fans concerned that the punk icon turned quasi-pop star was slipping comfortably into middle age need only to see the singer’s live show to know that he has lost neither the fire nor the enthusiasm found in his earlier works.
Wednesday’s Universal Amphitheatre performance — the first of a two-night stint at the venue — was vintage Costello, with the stage as sparsely configured as some of his latest tunes.
Costello and the Attractions rarely stopped between songs, blasting through a set of his best-knowns and key cuts from his latest album, “Brutal Youth,” particularly “Pony St.” and “Kinder Murder.”
Several new songs are musically reminiscent of early Costello cuts and evoked solid audience reaction; one of the crowd’s biggest responses followed “London’s Brilliant Parade,” a well-crafted but uncharacteristically sentimental journey of a tune.
Costello’s guitar work, while never flashy, was particularly acute, handling riff upon riff with lightning efficiency. His raw vocals always hit the mark, particularly on no-frills versions of previously overproduced singles, among them the once-fluffy “Every Day I Write the Book.”
The previously reviewed Crash Test Dummies again impressed with a brisk, well-executed set.