Review of concert from 2002-09-13: London, Hammersmith Apollo
- with Imposters
Evening Standard, 2002-09-16
- John Aizlewood
Elvis stuck in his time warp
Evening Standard - London
Elvis Costello and the Imposters
IN their pomp, so keen were they to get started, that Elvis Costello
three-man Attractions would literally run on to the stage. Many years
the bodies may be less lithe and bones are certainly creakier, but Elvis
Costello and The Imposters (Attractions Steve Nieve and Pete Thomas,
bassist Davey Faragher replacing Bruce Thomas) do exactly the same thing.
Everything else, however, has changed.
Despite being one of Britain's most prolific and most lauded songwriters,
Elvis Costello's problem is shared by almost everyone with a similar
lifespan: his claim to greatness rests upon work he recorded in the
stages of his career before he eschewed melody in favour of rhythm.
Was Cruel, his current album, is thoroughly serviceable, occasionally
inspired, but it's no Get Happy!!
This dilemma permeated his live set, which flitted staccato-like between
I Was Cruel tracks and stalwart singles. He caressed the new material,
great pains to explain the provenance of the current single, 45, before
barking, "Excuse me, I'm speaking", at a heckler calling for
an old song. He
even instigated a successful singalong on Tart, and was sufficiently
confident to field Alibi, Episode Of Blonde and the jarringly abrasive
Petals among the hour of encores.
With neither ado nor introduction, he gave the people what they wanted:
myriad hits, from the still-heady (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace Love
Understanding and Oliver's Army to the dirges I Want You and Almost
Being the ever-restless Elvis Costello, however, means always having
And tinker he did, mostly resulting in new life being breathed into
he clearly wished to have long left behind.
With Costello's glare on full-beam, High Fidelity, (I Don't Want To
Chelsea and Accidents Will Happen were taut, cacophonous and blasted
if they were Green Day originals, while Watching the Detectives was
Nieve's theramin and was transformed into a psychedelic funk soup.
These were special moments, but that problem of Costello's remained
insurmountable when he departed at 11.10pm as it had when he had arrived