- photo courtesy of elviscostello.com
The wheel landed on “I Want You.” And then the tapping began.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
I turn around. “What?”
The man behind begged, “Please. Sit down. You’re ruining it.”
We were mere minutes into Elvis Costello's "Spectacular Spinning Songbook" show—one that would eventually flirt with three hours in length—but given the lurking pace of Costello’s stalkerish “I Want You,” an unfortunately large segment of the graying Schnitzer crowd began to sit. Sure, it wasn't opening number "Pump it Up," or follow-ups "Heart Of The City" or "Radio Radio." But, Christ, it's a great song. I was not sitting.
Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap.
I turned around again. I am annoyed. This time around my response was blunt.
The "Spectacular Spinning Songbook" tour is Costello divulging in unapologetic camp. It's more or less a "Greatest Hits" victory lap, but without the stale predictability. Between songs of his own choosing, Costello would joyfully don the role of a high hat-toting, cane swinging, carnival barker armed with a spinning wheel that could sober up Pat Sajak. Go-go dancers (yes, at an Elvis Costello show) would pluck wide-eyed fans from the crowd, Costello would treat them to some wacky ’70s game show banter, and then let them spin the wheel. The wheel categories consisted of nearly every Costello song you ever wanted to hear, plus a few wild cards (“Joker” being an obvious one, less so the category of "Joanna" which resulted in piano songs due to its cockney translation) thrown in for good measure.
Despite the off-strip Vegas quality to the entire production, Costello beamed in the spotlight. He is Wayne Newton in thick frames, he is Tom Jones showered by a sea of tossed octogenarian panties, and he has never sounded better.
“HOLYFUCKINGSHITBALLS. What. Do. You. Want?”
“Sit down. Come on. Isn’t it enough you’re the tallest guy here?”
I sat. Begrudgingly. Plus he flattered me with the “tallest guy here" line. Way to play right into my vanity, buddy. But I didn't bend a knee for him, I sat for his poor wife, a woman doomed to a loveless existence on the arm of a man of a concert tapper. I hope you're happy, Gramps.