Daryl Hall at the Santa Barbara Bowl on June 14, 2024 | Photo: Carl Perry

It’s impossible to have a bad night at a double headliner concert that ends with Elvis Costello singing “Alison” and Daryl Hall crooning “You Make My Dreams (Come True).”

The whiff of nostalgia was in the air at the Bowl on Friday night — if you were older than 50 and had enough disposable income and time to spare — the double bill promise of Costello and Hall was playing our siren song, and this was definitely the place to be! 

Elvis Costello at the Santa Barbara Bowl on June 14, 2024 | Photo: Carl Perry

Elvis was up first, with no opener, just straight to the hits at hand. He jumped in with “Pump It Up,” a 1978 Elvis Costello and the Attractions classic (from This Year’s Model, an album cassette tape I wore out more than one copy of back in the day) that got the crowd on its feet pretty quickly. There was also an audible sigh along the lines of, “We’re so happy he’s playing his old stuff,” when 1977’s “Watching the Detectives” (from the iconic My Aim Is True album) was up next. The pace was perhaps a bit slower than I remember, but the band — with special guest Charlie Sexton on electric guitar, and the Imposters featuring Pete Thomas on drums, Davey Faragher on bass and backing vocals, and Steve Nieve on keyboards — was tight throughout his set, with Thomas as a particular standout to my ears. Costello’s voice took a little while to warm up, but he’s still got it — in spades. 

Next up was a streak of recent songs including “No Flag,” “Hattie O’Hara Confidential,” and “Wonder Woman,” followed by the aptly named “No Reason to Quit” (played for what was apparently only the second time in 38 years, if setlist.fm is accurate). The set also included the beautiful song “A Face in the Crowd,” from a stage musical of the same name (based on the 1957 film) that he’s been workshopping for years and is scheduled to run in London. 

Costello finished strong with a streak of oldies: “Clubland,” “Everyday I Write the Book,” “What’s so Funny About Peace, Love and Understanding,” and finally, the aforementioned “Alison,” which is one of my favorites — just like Costello himself. 

Daryl Hall at the Santa Barbara Bowl on June 14, 2024 | Photo: Carl Perry

Hall was up next, after a somewhat elaborate set change. His set was a bit uneven; he started out with “Maneater,” followed by “Dreamtime,” and “It’s Uncanny,” which featured a nice sax solo by the excellent Charlie DeChant, a standout throughout the night.

Hall’s voice warmed up with a run of familiar tunes that included “Foolish Pride,” and “Out of Touch,” and so did the energy of the crowd that stuck with him. We were justly rewarded with a strong finish that included “Everytime You Go Away” (a song Hall penned but a guy named Paul Young made into a familiar hit), “Sara Smile,” “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do),” “Can’t Say No to You” (a recent collaboration with Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics), and as I previously mentioned, “You Make My Dreams (Come True).”

My real dream would have been to have Costello join Hall onstage for the finale — perhaps “The Only Flame in Town,” a 1984 Costello song that featured Hall on backing vocals —  but all in all it was a fun, nostalgia-filled night of music.

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