A quarter century after he first cooked up the idea that exponentially amped up the practice of taking requests from the audience, Costello and his band the Imposters have resurrected the concept for a new generation, although the sold-out crowd on hand Wednesday for the first of two nights at the Wiltern Theatre clearly included a good number of those who'd been following him since his first go-round.
The new Revolver tour sees music as a thing of joysomething of a revolutionary statement in and of itself in these days, when another of big buzzwords in the music business is monetization. This isn't the garden-variety promotional tour designed primarily to build familiarity withand sales ofan artist's latest product, although he did manage to cleverly work in a couple of numbers from his most recent release, National Ransom," during an extended round of encores after a 2½-hour set.
Rather, Costello, keyboardist Steve Nieve, bassist-vocalist Davey Farragher and drummer Pete Thomas played like guests of honor at the most invigorating kind of living room party where attendees challenge one another in a combination of Name That Tune" and Top That!"
The Spinning Songbook wheel itself lends an additional measure of festiveness, allowing the always-engaging Costello to fully inhabit his alter ego as a raconteur and master of ceremonies par excellence, something he showcased regularly on his Sundance cable channel series Spectacle."
Without fanfare, Costello and the band strode onstage Wednesday and let loose an initial four-song volley that began with I Hope You're Happy Now" from 1986's Blood & Chocolate," segued directly into Tear Off Your Own Head (It's a Doll Revolution)" and crested into his freshman and sophomore album songs, Mystery Dance" and Radio Radio," the latter maybe a little too fast and furious for its own good.
But with the take-no-prisoners ambiance established, the host traded his porkpie hat for a dapper silk top hat and quickly obliterated anything resembling a fourth-wall between performer and audience.
A comely assistant helped choose fans to come onstage and spin the 10- to 12-foot-in- diameter brightly colored wheel with 32 song titles representing Costello classics ("Alison," Pump It Up," Veronica") to esoteric ("Flutter & Wow," Monkey to Man," Stella Hurt") to a smattering of covers (Paul McCartney's Let Me Roll It," Lennon-McCartney's And Your Bird Can Sing"do we detect a theme here?).