Elvis Costello closed his ‘Detour’ solo tour Sunday at the Paramount Theatre with a fabulous night of music that included a rare film clip of his father, Ross McManus, writes rock critic Charles R. Cross.
Before Elvis Costello even took the stage at the Paramount Theatre Sunday (April 26), it was almost certain he would invoke a local legend. At every previous stop on what he called the “Detour” solo tour, he’d pulled out one special cover with local connections.
So halfway into a 30-song set, when you expected a Sonics’ cover, instead he played “I Surrender Dear” by Tacoma-born Bing Crosby. Like much of the night, it was playful, but simultaneously sincere.
Bing fit perfectly into a set heavy on crooning, which often evoked a powerful nostalgia. That came through in the deep catalog songs Costello selected (“Watch Your Step,” “Alison,” “Accidents Will Happen”), but also with a stage set that looked like an old television.
He began the night on guitar with “(Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes,” from 1977, but eventually went back deeper than that, switching to piano on Ray Charles’ “I Believe to My Soul.”
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Costello talked about his ancestors often, and if he sounded like someone who is writing a memoir, that’s because he is. He said his father had been a musician, and to prove the point he played a clip of his dad, Ross McManus, doing “If I Had a Hammer.” There was a strong resemblance between father and son — plus, it rocked.
For most of the night Elvis was on acoustic guitar, but for “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding” he used both electric and acoustic, playing along with an electronic loop. He also used a bullhorn and an old record player. But the night’s highlight came when he sang “Everyday I Write the Book,” off microphone.
Costello mentioned his love for the Paramount several times, and said he had played there so much “I feel like I live here.” He’d played a private benefit in the hall for the Seattle Theatre Group the night before.
Sunday was the last night of the tour, and it seemed at times as if Costello didn’t want it to end. He played a dozen songs in the encores alone, and closed with an upbeat “Oliver’s Army.”
That song wasn’t on the set list, but a fan had yelled it out earlier in the night. Playing the request was one of many classy touches, but it was also a perfect closer to a fabulous night of music.