What's so funny about Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, and a 30-foot-high Spinning Song Book appearing at hallowed Harvard?
Nothing. For some strange reason, after three years without a major campus concert, it all made sense to the more than 3000 adoring Harvard fans who heard the British new wave star sing at Bright Arena last night.
They saw Elvis Costello write himself into the Harvard history books by offering an electrifying three-hour performance which ran the gamut from tearful ballads to the tearfully ridiculous, all the while poking fun at the peculiarities of American pop culture.
The concert, a three-hour musical powerplay spanning Costello's entire songwriting career, drew four curtain calls from an audience on its feet.
It began innocently enough to the strains of the Polka music which greeted students as they entered Bright Arena at 7:25 p.m.
After forty minutes of seat searching, opening act Nick Lowe took the stage.
Lowe warmed up the crowd with a 45 minute set of his best known tunes including "Cruel to be Kind," and "I knew the Bride When She Used to Rock and Roll," which he played as an encore to the audience's standing ovation.
After the opening act, the audience was treated to another 30 minutes of Polka.
Elvis then strutted on stage, wearing his trademark horned rim glasses and clutching an umbrella with the map of the world. Dropping the umbrella, Costello promised a show that "would bring a new meaning to the words 'having the world at your feet.'"
By the end of the mammoth musical production few could disagree.
For the first hour of the performance, Elvis sang some of his more obscure songs. In between songs, the singer narrated a slide show which included photos of a naked woman, and the god Bacchus seated upon a tortoise, among others.
Costello then went on to play his tune "I Don't Speak English I Speak American Without Tears," back-dropped by a slide which displayed the word "THINK".
Throughout the performance Costello played on the audience's fear that he might make an early exit. Three times Costello shouted into the microphone, "Good night, and God bless," and then left the stage. Three times the English star was called back by chants of "Elvis" and standing ovations from the audience. He would play morethan an hour of encores.
For his third encore Costello and Lowe returnedtogether with their guitars and "sweet harmony"joined forces on "What's so Funny `Bout Peace,Love and Understanding."
But Costello's fourth encore was a peculiartwist on daytime television.
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