Some of you may remember that I was pretty thrilled about the Elvis Costello performance I saw at South by Southwest in March. Given that, I'm somewhat surprised by the lukewarm reaction I've had to the new live DVD of the same band, playing practically the same set, just six months before I saw them. What felt fresh and vibrant live feels somewhat stale when captured on film, and what came across as a band looking forward, not back, comes across as something of a nostalgia trip. But even if it's just a nostalgia trip, it's a nostalgia trip about something that's really worth feeling nostalgic for. And even if this band doesn't play with the same ferocity it did two or three decades ago, it is still a fearsome and formidable rock band, and one of the best in the business.
Costello himself is strangely immobile in his big, blocky suit, but the rest of the band is plenty dynamic: Pete Thomas as intense as ever, singing along with songs he's been playing half his life; Steve Nieve with the feverish stare of a mad scientist mid-experiment; and relative newcomer Davey Farragher with a delightfully carefree bounce. Check out the (near) magic for yourself in these two video clips of classic Costello songs: "Alison" (Windows, Real Player), and "Peace, Love and Understanding" (Windows, Real Player).