Live Concert Photography: Elvis Costello at SummerStage Rumsey Playfield 6/15/17
Born Declan Patrick McManus and deriving his stage name from an amalgamation of Elvis Presley and his father Ross McManus’ stage name Day Costello, the British-born and-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and producer Elvis Costello throughout his incredibly lengthy, prolific and critically applauded 40+ year career has maintained a long-held reputation for being both a musical chameleon and a mischievously literate yet accessible songwriter. Although he began his career as part of London’s pub rock scene in the early 1970s, he’s best associated as being part of the first wave of British punk and New Wave of the mid-to-late 1970s, along with acts like The Sex Pistols, Wire and others, his work has drawn upon a diverse array of influences and references including pop standards, jazz, soul, rock, reggae, pop and a lengthy list of others; in fact, a critic once described Costello as a “pop encyclopaedia,” able to “reinvent the past in his own image.”
Unsurprisingly, Costello’s first three albums, 1977’s My Aim Is True, 1978’s This Year’s Model, the first to feature his legendary backing band The Attractions and 1979’s Armed Forces, featuring his highest charting single, “Oliver’s Army,” which landed at number 2 on the UK charts all appear on Rolling Stone‘s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list. Costello has also won a Grammy Award, been twice nominated for the Brit Award for Best British Male Singer — and adding to a critically applauded career, Costello along with the attractions were inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2003, and in 2004 Rolling Stone ranked Costello number 80 on their 100 Greatest Artists of All Time list.
Costello’s backing band, The Attractions split up in 1986 and although he has reunited with members of the band throughout the years, much of Costello’s recorded output since then has been as a solo artist. And as a solo artist, Costello has penned songs for Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash, No Doubt and James Brown and collaborated with an incredibly eclectic array of songwriters including Burt Bacharach, with whom he wrote “God Give Me Strength” for the 1996 major motion picture Grace of My Heart; T-Bone Burnett, with whom he wrote the Oscar Award-nominated and Grammy Award-nominated “The Scarlet Tide” for the 2003 major motion picture Cold Mountain; his wife, jazz pianist and vocalist Diana Krall; The Roots on the gravely under-appreciated 2013 effort Wise Up Ghost and Other Songs and several others.
2017 marks the 35th anniversary of Costello’s Imperial Bedroom & Other Chambers and to celebrate the album and his prolific career, the legendary British singer/songwriter and his current backing band The Imposters have been on tour, focusing on material off the album, as well as his catalog with The Attractions — and the tour included a stop at SummerStage‘s Central Park homebase (and biggest stage) Rumsey Playfield. I had the unique pleasure of catching the legendary singer/songwriter. Check out some photos below.