Review of concert from 1999-11-12: Newcastle, City Hall
The Journal, 1999-11-13
- Howard Walker


SECTION: Regional News

THE last time I saw Elvis Costello play live, I have to confess it was a real disappointment.

It was when he was touring again with the reformed Attractions and I had eagerly anticipated hearing some of the best songs of the last 20 years. But what I got was a band who were all over the place and an impression that this was an unhappy ship.

What a difference a few years makes. The 1999 model of Elvis is a vast improvement and was lapped up with unbridled pleasure by an ecstatic crowd.

Costello was accompanied only by keyboardist Steve Nieve in a semi Unplugged arrangement. And this two-piece arrangement seemed to suit the singer down to the ground.

But it was the songs which really stood out. Stripped down to the bare essentials, the likes of Alison, Accidents Will Happen and Good Year For The Roses positively gleamed with Costello's powerfully tender voice reaching real heights.

He was also unafraid to tinker with well-known and well-loved songs. He turned Green Shirt into an intriguingly odd piece of electro pop and added a bit of latino spirit to Clubland.

No less than four encores included the delights of Oliver's Army and Pump It Up, a beautiful She and a striking version of Shipbuilding. For the final song, Costello even sang without a microphone and got the whole crowd joining in as well.

"We've been away too long, we'll be back soon," he vowed. Let us hope so.