Elvis Costello has played Seattle 20 times, starting with an Emerald City debut that cost a dollar. Now he’s doing a solo tour, which will probably include some surprises.
The first time Elvis Costello appeared on a Seattle stage, the ticket price was just $1. It was 1978, at the Paramount Theatre, part of a “Catch A Rising Star” concert series. (The opening band was supposed to be the Talking Heads, who didn’t show up, but the concert was still extraordinary.)
Costello was an angry young man shaking up the music industry with fire-and-brimstone rock. He had a hit debut album, “My Aim is True,” with a snarly sound that didn’t fit neatly into either punk or new wave, but had elements of both. At the Paramount, he and his band the Attractions cranked through 15 songs in less than an hour, and they left the stage without an encore.
Costello has more than made up for that omission over the years, by giving Seattle a string of 20 tremendous shows. The next one is Sunday (April 26).
7 p.m. Sunday, April 26, at the Paramount Theatre, 911 Pine St., Seattle; $41.25-$71.25 (877-784-4849 or stgpresents.org).
Costello’s history here has included performances in venues ranging from the intimate confines of Easy Street Records to the Camlin Hotel bar to Bumbershoot’s Memorial Stadium (headlining last summer).
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Sunday at the Paramount will be his seventh show at the storied hall, but this time he’s solo. That means less sonic crunch, but also more diversity. With his wide repertoire — more than 30 albums — it means any of nearly 400 songs are possible.
He’s calling this road jaunt a “Detour,” meaning the set list can break expectations. A few times in the past, Costello has toured with a “Spectacular Spinning Songbook” that pulled up the set randomly, or he allowed fans to vote on what he would play, but this show will be just Costello’s picks.
At the dates he’s already played on the “Detour,” his sets have run nearly two hours. He’s tapped into songs from “My Aim is True,” but also from a one-off album he did with Marcus Mumford and Jim James last year titled “The New Basement Tapes.”
In Florida he covered Bob Dylan’s “Florida Key.” In Alabama he played Patsy Cline’s “Side By Side.” In New Orleans he brought out Allen Toussaint and played four songs with him. Seattle will get something special for sure.
With the cheapest tickets priced near $42, this show won’t be the bargain Costello’s Seattle debut was. But since the Paramount is one of his favorite venues, it should be money well spent.