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THE COSTELLO WATCH : NIGHT 5: A GREAT MOMENT IN L.A. ROCK

Times Pop Music Critic

There are only 1,372 seats at the Beverly Theatre, but there’ll probably be 50,000 people swearing a year from now that they were at every night of Elvis Costello’s five-night stand.

Everyone wants to feel they participated in the great moments of rock ‘n’ roll--and this was certainly among the most memorable engagements ever in Los Angeles rock.

The final night of Costello’s unique Beverly performances shifted Sunday from the entertaining, fun-for-all nature of Saturday’s “Spinning Wheel” sideshow to a straightforward, but equally absorbing affair.

While concentrating on material from his new “Blood and Chocolate” album, Costello and the Attractions band also reached into the English singer-songwriter’s unusually large body of work for some tunes (such as “Tiny Steps”) that Costello has rarely done in concert.

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That gave the closing show an adventurous edge lacking in the otherwise effective opening-night program. Tom Petty was the evening’s special guest, joining Costello on both Petty’s “American Girl” and Nick Lowe’s “Peace, Love and Understanding.”

By not simply doing the same show each night (and especially by ignoring the music on his new album for a couple of shows), Costello defied rock convention in ways that sent a challenge to other artists to find equally inventive ways to present their music.

But it wasn’t adventurousness alone that made the engagement work. This maverick approach to concerts would be particularly dangerous for an artist who doesn’t enjoy the a vast repertoire of quality material and an audience willing to go along with his instincts.


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