Elvis Costello - Casino Rama, Orillia, ON - April 19, 2012

Review by: Vickie Young
Photos by: Greg Young


In the absence of their traditional “Spinning Catalogue," Elvis Costello and The Imposters were left to their own devices in pleasing 3000 plus fans at Casino Rama. A typical Costello show features a large roulette-type wheel, which, when spun, dictates the fate of the evening’s set list. However, as Costello joked, “They don’t allow them in places like this because they don’t like the competition". So, did the removal of the game show theatrics and hit heavy selection interfere with satisfying the fans' palette? The answer is a double Hell No!

A massive sprint through the first five songs included, “I Hope You’re Happy Now", “Heart of the City", “Mystery Dance", “Radio, Radio”, and “Green Shirt", with literally seconds in between. Costello painted a picture early in the set that this was a no-nonsense evening and he was primed to deliver. Looking timelessly dapper in a navy suit complete with polka-dot shirt, straw fedora and trademark glasses, he was both poised and eager to cruise down memory lane. Once pinned ‘new wave’, Costello has left such pigeon-holing in the dust by continually genre crossing, as was evident in the first few songs of the performance.

Costello demonstrated his mastery on wordplay, heightening the crowd with up-tempo ditties such as “Pump It Up" and silencing all with tortured ballads as in “Alison". A perpetual firing squad of hits kept fans on their toes; however, it was “I Can’t Stand Up for Falling Down" that brought them to their feet.

At last, Costello and his tireless crew comprised of Pete Thomas (drums), Steve Nieve (keys) and Davey Faraghe (bass), slowed things down to share a story. With beads of sweat forming on his brow, Costello reflected on his recent attendance of the 1st PEN awards in New England – a literary award bestowed to excellence in songwriting. The two men being paid homage were Chuck Berry and Canada’s own Leonard Cohen. Costello was summoned to perform a Berry classic and suddenly found himself without a band - and Keith Richards was planted in the front row. A few giggles erupted after Costello’s comment, “These are two men who’ve come to blows over rock and roll," poking fun at both Berry and Richards.

A three-song encore kicked off with a touching tribute to Levon Helm who sadly lost his battle with throat cancer earlier in the day. “It was a great honour to share the stage with him, and we’re going to miss him a whole lot," said Costello before ripping into “Tears of Rage." Choosing to forego Costello material on the final song, the ambitious crew planted their stamp with a beefed-up version of The Grateful Dead’s “Ramble on Rose".

An impressive total of 20 nostalgic hits were laid down in 90 minutes flat. For all show goers that bet their money on the Costello’s performance on this evening, were clearly jackpot winners.

Set List

I Hope You’re Happy Now
Heart of the City
Mystery Dance
Radio, Radio
Green Shirt
The Angels Wanna Wear My Red Shoes
Big Boys Cry
Less Than Zero
Crying Time
No Particular Place To Go
Every Day I Write The Book
I Don’t Want To Go Chelsea
Oliver’s Army
I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down
High Fedelity
Pump It Up


Tears of Rage
What’s So Funny
Ramble On Rose