Costello Previews 'Cruel' In NYC

Backed by his band the Imposters, Elvis Costello last night (April 18) gave a live preview of his forthcoming album, "When I Was Cruel," to a New York crowd made up largely of Island/Def Jam staff mem

Backed by his band the Imposters, Elvis Costello last night (April 18) gave a live preview of his forthcoming album, "When I Was Cruel," to a New York crowd made up largely of Island/Def Jam staff members, as well as select music industry figures and a handful of lucky contest winners. The setlist for the 110-minute performance at the intimate Bowery Ballroom was similar to a show held Tuesday in London, and will no doubt mirror a Sunday night show in Chicago for local radio outlet WXRT.

Backed by former Attractions members Steve Nieve (keyboards) and Pete Thomas (drums), along with bassist Davey Faragher (Cracker, John Hiatt), Costello performed 20 songs, nine of which appear on "When I Was Cruel," due Tuesday via Island. The set began with the new album's opening track, "45," but quickly switched gears to catalog favorites "Waiting for the End of the World" and "Watching the Detectives."

Other songs from the new album that made the cut for the sometimes raucous performance were "Spooky Girlfriend," "15 Petals," "Tart," "...dust," "Tear off Your Own Head (It's a Doll Revolution)," "Alibi," "Episode of Blonde," and "When I Was Cruel No. 2." The latter is a near trip-hop recasting of "Un Baccio e Troppo Poco," recorded in the late 1960s by Italian pop artist Mina, that found Costello playing guitar and singing to a pre-recorded sampled track, with the Imposters adding only sporadic instrumental flourishes.

While the new material was enthusiastically received, it was Costello's older material that thrilled the Rolling Stone contest winners in attendance. Elvis sprinkled the set with such classics as "Alison" (during which guitar snafus visibly irked the performer), "Man Out of Time," "Beyond Belief," "(I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea," "I Hope You're Happy Now," and "Pump It Up."

Closing the show with the second three-song encore of the night, Costello trotted out the classic "Lipstick Vogue" from 1978's "This Year's Model" and finished with a searing version of "I Want You," from 1986's "Blood & Chocolate." Unfortunately, as the prickly and emotionally dark song reached its quietest moments, the performance was nearly ruined by seemingly ceaseless conversation throughout the venue.

As previously reported, Costello will perform and sign autographs at Tower Records locations in Philadelphia tonight, Chicago on Sunday, and New York on Tuesday. A U.S. tour that will kick off May 18 in Portland has recently been expanded and is set to last through a June 24 show in Atlanta.

Here is Costello's updated tour schedule:

April 19: New York ("CBS Saturday Morning" taping; to air April 27)
April 19: Philadelphia (Tower Records; performance/autograph signing)
April 21: Chicago (Tower Records; performance/autograph signing)
April 21: Chicago (House of Blues; WXRT show)
April 23: New York (Tower Records; performance/autograph signing)
May 18: Portland, Ore. (Roseland Theater)
May 19: Seattle (Paramount Theatre)
May 21: Saratoga, Calif. (Historic Mountain Winery)
May 22: Berkeley, Calif. (Berkeley Community Theatre)
May 24: Las Vegas (Hard Rock Hotel / the Joint)
May 25: Reno, Nev. (Reno Hilton)
May 26: Angels Camp, Calif. (Mountain Aire Festival)
May 28: Los Angeles (Ackerman Grand Ballroom / UCLA)
May 29: San Diego (Copley Symphony Hall)
May 30: Hollywood, Calif. (Kodak Theatre)
June 2: Denver (Fillmore Auditorium)
June 5: Minneapolis (Orpheum Theatre)
June 7: Clarkston, Mich. (DTE Energy Music Theatre)
June 8: Chicago (Chicago Theatre)
June 9: Columbus, Ohio (PromoWest Pavilion)
June 11: Cleveland (Tower City Amphitheatre)
June 12: Toronto (Molson Amphitheatre)
June 14: Boston (FleetBoston Pavilion)
June 15: Wallingford, Conn. ( Oakdale Theatre)
June 16: Vienna, Va. (Wolf Trap Filene Center)
June 18-19: New York (Beacon Theatre)
June 22: Upper Darby, Pa. (Tower Theatre)
June 23: Portsmouth, Va. (NTELOS Pavilion @ Harbor Center)
June 24: Atlanta (Chastain Park Amphitheatre)