In Double Time
interview with STEVE NIEVE - by Stephen Downie
Some artists spend weeks rehearsing, fine-tuning their setlist before a big performance. Then you have singer Elvis Costello & and pianist Steve Nieve, who breeze into town for the Sydney Festival, knuckle-down for a few days of fevered rehearsal and keep their fingers crossed it will be right on the night. According to Nieve, long-time Costello collaborator, who played in the singer's backing band The Attractions, the set list they'll play with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra will only be finalised on the day. "I'm armed with a suitcase of scores, it weighs a ton," Nieve says. "I haven't been able to sleep much at night, I have all these pieces of paper and I've been trying to put them in order, which is probably a mixture of jetlag and the anticipation of things. It remains to be seen until the final day of the show what the final list will be."
So, the rehearsals have been intense since they arrived in Australia? "They are intense because we don't have a great deal of time. Resources are what they are and you have to make use of them when you can get them," Nieve says. "It will be interesting to see how quickly we adapt to playing with the orchestra." Over the years, Nieve and Costello have formed a strong work relationship. Recently, they collaborated for Costello's album of jazz tunes, My Flame Burns Blue.
So why have they fostered such a close professional partnership? "I think it takes us to places we probably would not venture into by ourselves. We get to take unexpected musical turns," says Nieve. "The chief reason I play with Elvis is I love his voice. Accompanying him is a great pleasure and an honour." Costello and Nieve played a sold-out show at the State Theatre on Sunday night and will perform with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra at the Opera House tonight.