|The Elvis Costello
Review of concert from 2003-11-01: Ringsted, Denmark, Ringsted
Teater & Kongrescenter - with Steve Nieve
Elvis Costello & Steve Nieve
By Peter Elsnab
5 stars (of possible 6)
Love for the good and for the bad
The love from the audience was obvious when Elvis Costello, after two and a half hours of playing with his audience, artistry and demonstration of great musicality, finally left the stage, a long time after the idea of a seated concert had gone. At the beginning of the hour-long set of extras the audience went from their seats on the floor and on the balcony to the intimacy right in front of the stage.
A big part of the audience, who included several established rock artists and former goalkeeper from the danish national soccer team, came from far away. And they were not disappointed by the 49 year old Englishman, who delivered "good value for money and extreme honey" on this Saturday autumn evening. 900 people for a while said "goodbye cruel world" even though love, as a theme, was presented both for the good and for the bad.
Accompanied only by his faithful partner from The Attractions, "Professor" Steve Nieve, on the piano, the singing and guitar playing Elvis Costello stylefully guided his many fans through older and primarily newer songs from his enormous treasure of songs.
Both of them all in black on a simple stage with a black piano and black curtain. Costello was in the front and Nieve on the left of the stage by the piano, initially only lit-up by two static white spots.
The sound was excellent, and the long set, which length I feared due to the latest album "North"s uneven quality, was suddenly finished. The new songs did a lot better in these simple arrangements, than the album's string orchestration soaked versions. On top of that the low key jazz songs were mixed intellegently with older rockers with speed and noisy guitars. An emphasis of Elvis Costello's many facets from singer/songwriter over punk rocker to intense jazz crooner and classical renewer.
Technically he is not the best singer, but he has lots of expression and force in his voice. In "This House is Empty Now" he sang so intense that the loneliness felt overwhelming even with 900 people around you. It is very impressive when he sing some of the songs without the use of a microphone.
Lots of fooling around was taking place on the stage, not least in one of the highlights of the evening: "Gods Comic", about the funny god who was introduced as a woman, reading Cosmopolitan, watching Sex in The City and playing vinyl EPs.
"They still love vinyl in heaven" Elvis Costello said and played "God's Comic" which grew into "This is Hell" in one of many successful transitions, thematically, like from god to hell, or simply in a good flow.
Most obvious in the sublime "Deep Dark Truthful Mirror" which incorporated the Motown / Miracles classic "You've really Got A Hold On Me", with the fantastic line: "I don't like you, but I love you".
During the evening he and Steve Nieve, who with a body language like a classical concert pianist played vividly and emotionally, played all 11 songs from "North" and that was more than enough. It drew heavily on the audience's love of the artist and some of the new songs at the end of the concert were too much, at a night that otherwise was perfect.
Elvis Costello as a seeking artist has musically been many places in his carrer of a quarter of a century. A sparse instrumentation like this is risky, but Costello can handle it. And even though he may not be a Dylansk poet his songwriting has more presence than most. It is an emphasis of his class that he can leave out musical perls like "Alison" and "Watching the Detectives".