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A Right Regal Bonsoir (or Imperial Bedroom Revisited)


Elvis Costello doesn't mess around. Last night, at The Chicago Theater, I witnessed a true delight of the senses. Out of respect for the artist's wishes, as requested, I didn't take any pictures or video of the performance. You'll have to live through my description and a grainy, preshow snap.

The projected graphic was the first thing that caught my eye. It was a funky illustration of the band in a graphic frame. The stage was set up in segments (almost rooms) that I could clearly see from my balcony vantage point.

As the stage was illuminated, I saw the bright magenta piano and the swirling lights. Costello came out wearing a bright red fedora, signature glasses, and a grin. He was full of energy. The backup singers wore eye-catching outfits: one striped like Beatlejuice, and one in red and black reminiscent of late-80s Madonna. The swirls in the lights changed to lines, changed to other patterns, it was like psychedelic wallpaper. During every song the projected graphic changed to hint at the spirit of the song, sometimes with the title drawn in. Each graphic fit in with the iconic Barney Bubbles Imperial Bedroom & Other Chambers album cover (Snakecharmer & Reclining Octopus).

The sound was crisp and on-point (with the exception of the mic change for Allison). The beats were mesmerizing. The percussion seemed to spark a near religious experience for some. He went through guitars like they were going out of style, changing them in the middle of lines sometimes. The tunes showed a the full range of what the instruments could do with the right performer. Gospel organ, rock and roll, silly tunes, and heartbreaking melodies. The vocals never wavered, even through encore after encore.

The perfect culmination of graphics, sound, and lighting was the eerie delivery of Watching the Detectives. The graphics flashed pans of old noir movie posters by the second. The green eerie light lit up Costello from below. Fog creeped across the stage. That downbeat ska stroke even lended an unsettling effect. The vocals were haunting. The crowd was pulsing. I didn't know what to focus on!

The main set focused on the songs from Imperial Bedroom. Seeing it live you get a bit of a background story and a little more insight into the soul of the song. During the first encore, he sang some old favorites. But he wasn't done yet. The house lights stayed low when he came out a second time with his purple top hat and orb-topped cane. He sang unreleased songs for the upcoming musical Face in the Crowd  (Blood & Hot Sauce, American Mirror, A Face in the Crowd). He went on to sing some upbeat classics like Pump it up.

Overall, the show was over 2.5 hours of pure, soul soothing, tantalizing, exciting, entertainment. I was exhausted walking out of there!

Read about it on website in this article.

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