© Sharon Steele - June 07 2023 - Elvis Costello & The Imposters at Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Live Review: Elvis Costello & The Imposters + Nick Lowe @ Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Vancouver – June 7th 2023

Elvis Costello and The Imposters performed the first date of their 23 date current tour at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver, Canada on June 7th 2023 and the band will be joined on this tour with Nick Lowe & Los Straitjackets.

With both bands performing together last summer, it seemed a natural fit to continue with the pairing for this tour as well.

Longtime friend Nick Lowe was the opener and was backed by “The Ventures” inspired band “Los Straightjackets” for 12 songs. The last time they were in town was at the The Imperial and the favourable response and post concert discussion from many concert goers ensured that many attendees on Wed’s show at the QET were also there to see Nick and Los Straighjackets.

The ever talented Nick Lowe performed audience faves “Cruel to be Kind”, “I knew a bride (When She Used to Rock n Roll)”, “Half a boy, half a man”. Their set was on point, starting with one of my faves “So It Goes”, and intermingling a few Los Straightjackets instrumentals into the set just worked so well. However I wish people would be more considerate and arrive on time to not interfere with the constant disruption of others there to enjoy the performance. Even Nick made a comment about he was there to make sure everyone got to their seats (jokingly).

When Elvis Costello and the Imposters hit the stage the energy was a bit more subdued. Starting with an unrecognizable but not unenjoyable arrangement, from the original “Green Shirt” (from ’79’s Armed Forces album). This song set the tone for the remainder of the evening. If people came to expect exact covers of the hits and deep dives, you were definitely in for a surprise. I guess you could say you could take the tours title “We’re All Going On A Summer Holiday”, quite literally. A summer holiday of new musical interpretations away from the many familiar arrangements of favourites in his discography. As Elvis stated “we’re altering songs in some foolish and fantastic ways.

The Imposters this round include the addition of the very talented Charlie Sexton on guitar and Elvis’s longtime bandmates (Pete Thomas on drums, Steve Nieve on keys, and Davey Faragher on bass). As with most first shows on a tour there were bumps along the way. Some issues with overpowering bass, a bit of lighting glitches but overall was enjoyable. I give big kudos to Elvis to not providing a Casino/Fair circuit greatest hits performance.  

His between song banter was quite enjoyable as well. I never knew that he wrote Radio Radio after buying and was influenced by Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run. 

A highlight was the crowd pleasing version was “Watching the Detectives”, and I think there was not a person in the entire venue that did not like it. 

The style of arrangements of many songs were more in the vein of “Hey Clockface” which shows the maturity and confidence he has in his musical repertoire, that’s both energetic and consistently surprising. I liked that it took me a bit to know he was performing “Girls Talk”, but thoroughly enjoyed the new arrangement that I might not ever hear again. As a friend had stated, this show would be fantastic as a live album, and I would have to agree.

I can see Elvis tweaking the set list a bit, but overall it was an enjoyable show.

For the encore and closing the concert saw Nick Lowe return for the last two songs “Indoor Fireworks” and “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding”.

I will be waiting for the live album now. Thank you Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe and company.

Photos © Sharon Steele

  1. Not sure what happened between Vancouver and Vegas. But the Vegas show last night was mostly garbage. I’m a longtime Costello fan, but felt embarrassed for him last night. Lowe and straitjackets were a lot of fun. The imposters, when allowed to just kind of riff without Elvis doing too much was a nice vibe. Then let’s talk Elvis…. His solo singing with just the piano and mic was like cats howling. He needs the broader music and singers joining to have any hope of sounding good.

    Not sure what rendition of watching the detectives he did in Vancouver, but in Vegas, this was the final straw for many and the aisles had a steady flow of people picking up and leaving. It was not good.

  2. Your claim that there was not a single person in the venue that didn’t like that atrocious version ‘Watching the Detectives’ is as deluded as the rest of this review. The show was a hot pile of pretentious garbage. Elvis is clearly tired of his own music and made a conscious decision to perform a show that contained literally nothing the fans wanted to hear. It was quite simply the worst concert event I have ever attended.

  3. Completely agree with the other reviews. Saw him last night at Tanglewood and left early bitterly disappointed. The bastardized version of Watching the Detectives was the last straw. I will never understand why he thinks that people don’t want to hear the original versions. Maybe he’s tired of it but I sure wasn’t.

  4. The Concert on 7/6/2023 at MGM Fenway was awful, what a waste of time and money, his singing was terrible, the songs were so rough and hard to listen to. All I could do is shake my head. It took forever for him to come on stage, we sat there for 45 minutes listening to loud cheesy jazz tunes that went through your head on tinny speakers looking at an empty stage.His first song was nothing I new or wanted to hear, sounded like a Bar Jam Tune with amatuer musicians playing together for the first time. It got worse from there. He made it clear he did not want to play his hit songs. We left after about a half an hour. On the way out he finally played a known song “Watching the Detectives that was done so slow and off beat, with the lyrics sung terribly and in a cynical way. So disresptful.

  5. I just saw the concert in Syracuse. We loved the music of the Straightjackets – hip, clean, 60’s California cool. Elvis’s show was awful. His voice, famous for its natural straining but soulful sounds, was off key, thin and drowned out by a talented group of musicians who somehow were uncoordinated with Elvis and each other. The lighting was also off and the entire show seemed worse than a garage band get together. I was so disappointed. Eventually we walked out as did many others.

  6. Saw him in Baltimore, Nick Lowe was fantastic with Lis Straight Jackets backing him up. Elvis was awful. Firstly the sound was dreadful, which is a surprise because Nick Lowe while quiet was well mixed. Elvis‘s mix was mostly kick drum and snare with some garbled lyrics and the rest of the backing instruments. You could barely hear the horn players, or Charlie Sexton (who was relegated to rhythm guitar on most songs.) Elvis was doing the “I’m going to play songs you probably never heard before, and do strange versions of the ones you know. (Except “Kind of Blue”)
    The horrible sound made us leave early, it just made me angry when I thought about the ticket price.

  7. I posted this on Facebook already-saw the show in Baltimore MD on July 9: Sad to say that this was the WORST concert I ever attended. His first 10-12 songs were very slow and plodding and put you to sleep. After that we left the concert early as we could not put up with anymore of this dribble. We heard 3 of his hits before we left. (Allison, Watching the Detective, Accidents will Happen) They were all almost unrecognizable. All slowed down with no energy. Also, the sound mix was poor. Elvis is clearly tired of playing the songs the fans actually enjoy. It is a shame as this is likely the last time or first time a fan will actually get a chance to see him in concert. Nothing remains but a pretentious, self-indulgent artist with an overblown ego. We paid only $25 each for tickets through the LiveWire May promotion but still feel we were ripped off by Elvis. DO NOT BUY A CONCERT TICKET For the Elvis Costello future shows just listen to your favorite songs on your CDs.

  8. Last night 9/5/2023 we were at his concert in Barcelona. He was dreadful. Maybe a few notes in the entire evening were in tune. So embarrassed for him as he tried everything he could with stage movement to get people to applaud more than politely. Definitely was an Emperor Has No Clothes situatiton.

    Half-way through the evening, audience members quietly departed. We stayed to the end, and he did an encore though the audience did not ask for a callback. The piano was much too loud, but we suspect it was needed as perhaps Mr. Costello has lost his hearing. We hoped that each time he played guitar, it would help his pitch, but he was way off.

    The tickets were expensive $75 – for upper balcony. Unlike others in the lobby, we did not ask for a refund but we did ask staff if people were complaining and they said “pretty much everyone.”

    We decided it gave us something to talk about over a beer here and there in the future. But I was bummed, because Elvis Costello and his music were an important part of my early adulthood, and now this is the memory that replaces it.

    Someone needs to convince him to retire before he causes any more damage to his legacy.

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