Review of concerts in Sydney on 1999-01-27 and 1999-01-28
Drum Media, 1999-02-16
- Paul Jones


Capitol Theatre
27 & 28/1/99

COME 8:45 p,m. and all was set for Costello and Nieve. From the word go, it was a performance for the true fans. Dipping deep into his bag of tricks, Costello avoided the `greatest hits' rouse and concentrated mainly on album tracks, b-sides and other rarities. The audience seemed to comprise of many hard core Costello fans and every song was greeted with warm applause.

OPENING with Accidents Will Happen, most of his 18 studio albums were touched upon over the two nights. Not content to just go through the motions, many of the older songs were reworked (Temptation, Talking In The Dark), and occasionally a sneaky cover version would be slipped in. On both nights the house was brought down when Radio Sweetheart was transformed into Jackie Wilson Said.

SELECTIONS from his latest album Painted From Memory were sung magnificently and greeted with much enthusiasm. Obviously there were some 'must plays' (Alison, Oliver's Army, Watching the Detectives) that made an appearance on both nights, but the diversity shown over the shows was a tribute to Costello's prolific talents as a songwriter.

BUT it was the voice of Elvis Costello that was the star of the show (Admittedly a little hoarse on the second night). At times he had the audience in stitches with genuine humour (God's Comic) only to bring them to the brink of despair (I Want You) and back to a singalong (The Angels Wanna Wear My Red Shoes was classic with the audience singing the response vocals with no prompting from Costello). At times you could hear a pin drop as he reached ever higher with his voice, and too scared to breathe - so quiet were songs like Indoor Fireworks. The covers kept coming when New Amsterdam became You've Got To Hide Your Love Away.

STEVE Nieve showcased his virtuosity with a brilliant display on the grand piano - his work with the Attractions only showing a glimpse of his true worth. Costello also ensured that Nieve received his fair share of applause.

ON both nights the audience didn't want to let the great man go, resulting in stings of encores and standing ovations lasting almost as long as the main performance itself. Costello was kind enough to take some requests (Shipbuilding, Almost Blue) with the only downer being some loud fool who repeatedly screamed out for Good Year For The Roses at inappropriate moments. Both nights ended with the already classic God Give Me Strength from Painted From Memory. Then the power was cut, and Costello and Nieve said goodbye with a beautiful 'acoustic' version of Couldn't Call It Unexpected No 4 which ended in another singalong.

IT may be some time before Elvis Costello comes out to Australia again, so these concerts will have to hold you fans for a while. As a self confessed Costello junkie. it was pure bliss.