Elvis Costello performs with the Police on Monday, July 14, at the Shoreline Amphitheatre and on Wednesday, July 16, at Sleep Train Pavilion. Both shows start at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $40.50-$225.50; visit www.livenation.com.
Okay, so perhaps Elvis Costello has become a bit precious over the years, preferring to dabble in "grown-up" genres of jazz, standards, and classical music rather than to churn out rock 'n' roll. His dalliances with pretense are part of his charm, though, especially when tempered by his wit and comic sensibility. The essence of this dynamic was captured brilliantly in his Austin Powers cameo of a Carnaby Street busker duet with Burt Bacharach. Costello makes such pairings seem natural, with a knack for blending contradictory stylistic choices, which in turn work perfectly with the edgy rock that first linked him to the '77 punk explosion.