Elvis Costello

With two new compilation CDs –

Rock and Roll Music


The Best of Elvis Costello: The First Ten Years

– each focusing on his blunt beginnings as an acerbic, angry young new waver, it stands to reason that the first stop by the peripatetic 52-year-old entertainer born Declan MacManus this season will be an aggressive evening that revisits the early years of his superb back catalog with vigor and vitriol.

Let's hope so, anyway. And for those interested in the softer side, Costello will return to town Sept. 8 to play with the Mann Festival Orchestra in Fairmount Park.

- Dan DeLuca

Andrew Bird/Joan As Police Woman

Violinist Andrew Bird played warmed-over hot jazz with the Squirrel Nut Zippers before embarking on a solo career, first with his rock band Bowl of Fire and then with a series of increasingly sophisticated and unusual solo albums. He loves wordplay-scientific terms, palindromes, and tongue-twisters, but he sings in an understated croon that makes the elaborate lines sound conversational. He is also a world-class whistler; one of the numerous highlights of the new

Armchair Apocrypha

is his whistle solo on "Dark Matter." Opening for him tonight at the Fillmore is Joan Wasser, another violinist who has stepped outside the sideman role. Wasser was in the Dambuilders and played with Antony and the Johnsons, Lou Reed and others. On her own, as Joan As Police Woman, she crafts dramatic, swooning art songs.

- Steve Klinge


The first rule of opening acts is not to overshadow the headliner. But in the last couple of weeks, the smooth-voiced hip-hop vocalist Akon has reduced top-billed Gwen Stefani to an afterthought. The attention is mostly unwelcome, stemming as it does from online video of the singer simulating sex with an underage preacher's daughter on a Trinidad nightclub stage, and sponsor Verizon Wireless' subsequent withdrawal from the tour. But Akon, whose current double-platinum album is called


, has always flaunted his outlaw image, and the controversy only burnishes it. Verizon, on the other hand, might want to vet its spokespeople a little more closely; it should come as no surprise that the singer of "Smack That" likes to get raunchy when he's not on a family-friendly arena tour.

- Sam Adams