Review of concert in Sydney on 1999-01-27
The Daily Telegraph, 1999-01-28
Elvis Costello & Steve Nieve
- Dino Scatena


Costello a master of music



Music Writer

LIKE Marilyn Manson before him, Elvis Costello interrupts his performance to tell the audience about a conversation with God.

In Costello's version, God asks him which of the singers bothering him in heaven — Frank or that other guy called Elvis—is the best?

Costello replies that Frank Sinatra occasionally used to eat clams but never sang with any.

And there ends the similarities between Elvis Costello's performance last night at the Capital Theatre and Manson's show last week at the Showground.

There was a little trepidation about seeing Costello present his songs backed by just the piano of his old Attractions cohort Steve Nieve. All those words, all the word-play, all the stories. Would it be like sitting through a modern literature class?

Hardly. Elvis Costello has always been a showman be it when he was doing his old stupid dancing with the crooked legs routine or, like last night interrupting one of his classic songs to share a silly anecdote.

The song list ranged from such quarter-of-a-century-old classics as Red Shoes, Alison, Accidents will Happen and I Don't Want to go to Chelsea, to his most recent collaboration with Burt Bacharach, Painted From Memory.

Some may have missed the loud guitars of Costello's previous visits but it was a genuine pleasure to hear so many pop masterpieces presented in such a sophisticated, stripped-back manner.

It reminded us that Costello has always had one of the most beautiful voices to go with one of the most brilliantly musical minds.