Rock Fuel Media Inc.

The New Jersey Star-Ledger reports –

( extract)

When wondering beforehand who would strike the most sparks with Elvis Costello — the latest veteran talent feted in VH1 Classic’s tribute series “Decades Rock Live”— it seemed that Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong would be that guest, or maybe the young rock combo Death Cab for Cutie.

But as soon as Fiona Apple bit into Costello’s “Shabby Doll” during the show’s taping Friday at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, it was apparent that these two were the kindred spirits.

The 29-year-old Apple, singing alongside Costello and his band, the Imposters, helped transform his dark baroque pop tune “Shabby Doll” into an even darker soul song; as she seethed out the line “he’s all pride and no joy,” it sounded just like one of her own pithy kiss-offs.

Romantic obsession was a field well-tilled by Costello in his early days, and Apple is no stranger to such emotions in her work. She not only sang his desperate epic “I Want You,” she groaned and keened as if his 20-year-old emotions were hers today. Costello was obviously charged by her arm-flailing intensity, playing an outrageously dissonant guitar solo.

Unlike many of his peers who came up in the late ’70s, Costello has remained a blue-chip artist. The depth of his talent — reinforced Friday by barbed performance of his new song “The River in Reverse” — is the key reason for his staying power, of course. But his questing enthusiasm for collaboration has been vital, too. He didn’t merely accept homage from Apple and the others; the 51-year-old delved into their songbooks, too.

Costello gave Apple’s ballad “I Know” an after-hours R&B feel, and the pair communed over her bared-nerve torch song “Red Red,” with Costello howling like he was at the end of his rope. Afterward, the slight Apple was hopping with excitement, gushing to the crowd, “Can you imagine how cool I feel right now?”

Opening the show, Death Cab for Cutie was its urgent, melodic best on the band’s “The New Year,” but Ben Gibbard’s warbling voice tended to defang such Costello covers as “Kinder Murder.” Better was Death Cab’s subtle backing of Costello on “When I Was Cruel,” his noir-hued recollection of youthful spite.

Along with the usual delays and hype of a TV taping, the audience had to endure the execrable acoustics of the Mark Etess Arena. (Previous “Decades Rock” shows have been devoted to Heart, Cyndi Lauper and Bonnie Raitt; the arena appeared less than two-thirds full for Friday’s taping, so word may be out about the venue’s shortcomings.) Still, nothing could mute the hero’s welcome that hundreds of young girls gave Armstrong.

The Green Day singer ripped through a wonderfully punkish version of Costello’s “No Action” in league with the songwriter and his band. It was also fun to hear the Imposters sink their teeth into such Green Day anthems as “Wake Me Up When September Ends.” Armstrong joined Costello for an acoustic set, but this felt forced, as they stumbled through a countrified take on Costello’s “Lip Service.”

The all-hands finale was far better than such features usually are, with Apple’s voice ringing out of the chorus for Smokey Robinson’s “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me” and everyone chanting along to Costello’s classic version of Nick Lowe’s “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?”
There’s no telling who Elvis Costello will be standing next to on stage. Last year, the bespectacled Brit toured with Emmylou Harris. This year, he put out an album with Holland’s Metropole Orkest. Next month, he releases The River in Reverse, with New Orleans piano man Allen Toussaint.

The Philadelphia Inquirer comments –
On Friday at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, the 51-year-old songwriter performed with his band, the Imposters, while being celebrated by a troika decades younger than he: indie popsters Death Cab for Cutie, husky-voiced waif Fiona Apple, and Green Day singer Billie Joe Armstrong, who pulled the elementary school contingent into the multigenerational crowd.

Credit VH1’s Decades Rock Live series for arranging the occasion. And blame the cabler for the taping delay, which will ensure that when the concert finally airs, the half-full, lousy-sounding Mark G. Etess Arena will be magically transformed into a polished show at The Perfect Concert Hall.

But enough bickering. The show was smartly conceived, the material well-chosen. Death Cab’s Ben Gibbard came off like a dweeb by asking to restart a song because “I dropped my pick.” That won’t make the final cut. A forceful version of Costello’s “Kinder Murder” and strummy duet on his own “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” will, deservedly so.

Death Cab represents the mild influence of Costello’s verbally rich rock. Apple covers the dark side. Looking like a pint-sized Morticia Adams in a purple dress, she nearly stole the show from the gracious host she so obviously adores.

Costello made her gloriously good “I Know” his own. The two paired off on his “Shabby Doll” and her “Tymps (The Sick in the Head Song),” assisted by Imposters keyboard whiz Steve Nieve. The evening’s highlight was Apple’s hellacious interpretation of Costello’s “I Want You,” a song about obsessive, vindictive love. She knocked it out of the park.

Armstrong brought the crowd to its feet, joining with Costello on “No Action,” an acoustic “Alison,” and bruising “Pump It Up,” as well as on the Green Day hits “Wake Me Up When September Ends,” and “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life).”

As with all the other guests, Armstrong’s affection for Costello seemed genuine, and the admiration mutual. All the younguns came back for an encore of enduring songs none of them wrote: Smokey Robinson’s “You Really Got a Hold on Me” and Nick Lowe’s “(What So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?”

Apple taps core of Costello

Shared fascination with romantic obsession spurs intense performance in Atlantic City

Monday, May 22, 2006

BY BRADLEY BAMBARGER
Star-Ledger Staff

POP/ROCK

When wondering beforehand who would strike the most sparks with Elvis Costello — the latest veteran talent feted in VH1 Classic’s tribute series “Decades Rock Live”– it seemed that Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong would be that guest, or maybe the young rock combo Death Cab for Cutie.

But as soon as Fiona Apple bit into Costello’s “Shabby Doll” during the show’s taping Friday at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, it was apparent that these two were the kindred spirits.

The 29-year-old Apple, singing alongside Costello and his band, the Imposters, helped transform his dark baroque pop tune “Shabby Doll” into an even darker soul song; as she seethed out the line “he’s all pride and no joy,” it sounded just like one of her own pithy kiss-offs.

Romantic obsession was a field well-tilled by Costello in his early days, and Apple is no stranger to such emotions in her work. She not only sang his desperate epic “I Want You,” she groaned and keened as if his 20-year-old emotions were hers today. Costello was obviously charged by her arm-flailing intensity, playing an outrageously dissonant guitar solo.

Unlike many of his peers who came up in the late ’70s, Costello has remained a blue-chip artist. The depth of his talent — reinforced Friday by barbed performance of his new song “The River in Reverse” — is the key reason for his staying power, of course. But his questing enthusiasm for collaboration has been vital, too. He didn’t merely accept homage from Apple and the others; the 51-year-old delved into their songbooks, too.

Costello gave Apple’s ballad “I Know” an after-hours R&B feel, and the pair communed over her bared-nerve torch song “Red Red,” with Costello howling like he was at the end of his rope. Afterward, the slight Apple was hopping with excitement, gushing to the crowd, “Can you imagine how cool I feel right now?”

Opening the show, Death Cab for Cutie was its urgent, melodic best on the band’s “The New Year,” but Ben Gibbard’s warbling voice tended to defang such Costello covers as “Kinder Murder.” Better was Death Cab’s subtle backing of Costello on “When I Was Cruel,” his noir-hued recollection of youthful spite.

Along with the usual delays and hype of a TV taping, the audience had to endure the execrable acoustics of the Mark Etess Arena. (Previous “Decades Rock” shows have been devoted to Heart, Cyndi Lauper and Bonnie Raitt; the arena appeared less than two-thirds full for Friday’s taping, so word may be out about the venue’s shortcomings.) Still, nothing could mute the hero’s welcome that hundreds of young girls gave Armstrong.

The Green Day singer ripped through a wonderfully punkish version of Costello’s “No Action” in league with the songwriter and his band. It was also fun to hear the Imposters sink their teeth into such Green Day anthems as “Wake Me Up When September Ends.” Armstrong joined Costello for an acoustic set, but this felt forced, as they stumbled through a countrified take on Costello’s “Lip Service.”

The all-hands finale was far better than such features usually are, with Apple’s voice ringing out of the chorus for Smokey Robinson’s “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me” and everyone chanting along to Costello’s classic version of Nick Lowe’s “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?”

The date of the Costello show’s broadcast hasn’t been announced. The next “Decades Rock Live” taping at the Taj Mahal is June 23, revolving around Lynyrd Skynyrd.

——————————————————————————————————————————————-

Mon, May. 22, 2006

Costello celebrated at Trump

By Dan DeLuca
Philadelphia Inquirer Music Critic

There’s no telling who Elvis Costello will be standing next to on stage. Last year, the bespectacled Brit toured with Emmylou Harris. This year, he put out an album with Holland’s Metropole Orkest. Next month, he releases The River in Reverse, with New Orleans piano man Allen Toussaint.

On Friday at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, the 51-year-old songwriter performed with his band, the Imposters, while being celebrated by a troika decades younger than he: indie popsters Death Cab for Cutie, husky-voiced waif Fiona Apple, and Green Day singer Billie Joe Armstrong, who pulled the elementary school contingent into the multigenerational crowd.

Credit VH1’s Decades Rock Live series for arranging the occasion. And blame the cabler for the taping delay, which will ensure that when the concert finally airs, the half-full, lousy-sounding Mark G. Etess Arena will be magically transformed into a polished show at The Perfect Concert Hall.

But enough bickering. The show was smartly conceived, the material well-chosen. Death Cab’s Ben Gibbard came off like a dweeb by asking to restart a song because “I dropped my pick.” That won’t make the final cut. A forceful version of Costello’s “Kinder Murder” and strummy duet on his own “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” will, deservedly so.

Death Cab represents the mild influence of Costello’s verbally rich rock. Apple covers the dark side. Looking like a pint-sized Morticia Adams in a purple dress, she nearly stole the show from the gracious host she so obviously adores.

Costello made her gloriously good “I Know” his own. The two paired off on his “Shabby Doll” and her “Tymps (The Sick in the Head Song),” assisted by Imposters keyboard whiz Steve Nieve. The evening’s highlight was Apple’s hellacious interpretation of Costello’s “I Want You,” a song about obsessive, vindictive love. She knocked it out of the park.

Armstrong brought the crowd to its feet, joining with Costello on “No Action,” an acoustic “Alison,” and bruising “Pump It Up,” as well as on the Green Day hits “Wake Me Up When September Ends,” and “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life).”

As with all the other guests, Armstrong’s affection for Costello seemed genuine, and the admiration mutual. All the younguns came back for an encore of enduring songs none of them wrote: Smokey Robinson’s “You Really Got a Hold on Me” and Nick Lowe’s “(What So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?”

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